Management of menstrual migraine.Neurology. 1999; 53(4 Suppl 1):S14-8.Neur
Migraines may occur at any time during the menstrual cycle but are commonly associated with the menses. Migraine-specific medications, such as the triptans, may be effective for acute management of menstrual migraine. However, it is important to recognize the relationship between migraines and the menstrual cycle because these headaches may not respond to the usual antimigraine medications. In that case, management may involve perimenstrual migraine prophylaxis, with migraine-specific medications used in addition for severe breakthrough migraines. Prostaglandin inhibitors started just before the time of headache vulnerability may prevent menstrual migraine attacks or reduce the severity of the headaches. Estrogen withdrawal has been shown to precipitate migraine headaches, and a sustained elevated level of estrogen will postpone the migraine. Transdermal estrogen started just before menstruation can provide a sustained low level of estrogen, decreasing the degree of estrogen decline, and thus may prevent induction of migraines. Ergotamine tartrate is usually taken only for acute migraine, but may also be effective for prevention of menstrual migraine when used regularly once or twice per day during the time of risk. By understanding the underlying pathophysiology of the relationship between migraines and the menstrual cycle, the physician can successfully treat migraines associated with menses.