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Expert advice on advanced diagnosis and treatment of painful headaches and migraines from the leading headache clinic in New Jersey.

Birth Control and Migraines: For Better or Worse?

Gabriel Santos - Friday, May 27, 2016

Migraine headaches may be accompanied by auras, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. They can be debilitating. Migraines are more common in women – and even more common in women during their reproductive years. 

Migraine headaches

It is common for migraine headache pain to be localized to one side of the head. Movements of the head may make the symptoms worse and increase the feeling of nausea. A migraine usually peaks in 2-12 hours and then gradually eases. It is not unusual for a migraine to last up to 72 hours.

Once the headache passes, many people still do not feel well for several hours, and it is common for migraine sufferers to just want to sleep off their migraine. 

Birth control pills and migraines

At the New Jersey Headache Institute, we know that the level of hormones contained in birth control pills can affect migraines. In some instances, birth control pills have been noted to give slight relief for migraine headaches. In others, birth control pills may be one of the causes of these debilitating headaches. This is especially true if you already suffer from migraines. 

How hormones affect migraines

There are many factors that contribute to headaches in women. This includes your age as well as your family history.

Estrogen and progesterone play major roles in keeping your menstrual cycle regulated. Estrogen levels that remain at a steady level can improve headaches – while changes or dips may make them worse. 

Birth control pills help regulate these fluctuations in hormones. For some women, regulating hormone levels may change the patterns of their headaches, causing them to be more infrequent and less severe. For others, using hormonal contraceptives may cause the beginning of migraines or make them more severe and more frequent. 

In some cases, if an estrogen and progestin combination birth control pill is prescribed, using a progestin-only pill instead may improve the headaches. 

Avoid triggers

Many people suffer from migraine headaches. Unfortunately, some of the causes and aspects of these specific headaches remain a mystery, although migraines have been noted to have certain triggers.

  • Environment (smoky rooms, flickering lights)
  • Excessive dieting
  • Irregular meals
  • Red wine
  • Medications

Avoiding what triggers your migraines will help you manage your migraines, but we recognize that this isn't always possible. 

New Jersey Headache Institute

It is not unusual for people who suffer from frequent migraine headaches to think there is no hope. The professionals at New Jersey Headache Institute take migraine headaches very seriously. We offer our patients individualized treatment plans to alleviate their headaches.

We take the time needed with our patients to give them our undivided attention – there is no rushing through an exam. We take pride in our ability to listen to our patients and explore their conditions in order to effectively diagnose and treat their headaches.     



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