Here's Why You Get Headaches On Your Period

The week leading up to a period and the first few days of a monthly cycle can be dreadful for many. So many things are happening to your body when your period is on the way. You could feel bloated, stressed, anxious, and achy (via Office on Women's Health). Many women experience headaches as well, which can also be accompanied by dizziness.

It isn't unusual for women to become used to these symptoms because, for many of us, we've been experiencing these monthly shifts since puberty. We've almost come to expect to feel a little unwell when we go through premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Of course, if you notice symptoms that are extreme, such as uncontrollable mood swings, severe depression, or intense aches and pains, it's important to see your doctor. Worsened symptoms could be from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a severe form of PMS that is chronic and needs to be treated (via Johns Hopkins Medicine).

There's a biological reason why we get those pounding headaches once a month and luckily, there are also simple tips to help prevent them.

Period headaches usually come down to hormones

During the week before your period comes, so many changes take place in your body. If you're prone to migraines, one of the most common types of headaches, it's likely you'll experience them during this time. That's because your hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are rapidly changing as they prepare to trigger your period to start (via WebMD). Both hormones lower as your period draws closer, but estrogen drops quite dramatically right before it begins.

This can cause menstrual migraines. Menstrual migraines feel like an intense pounding on one side of your head, which may be accompanied by an aura. You may also feel sensitive to light, nauseated, and dizzy.

Tension headaches are also common during your period. When we feel more stressed, they can appear (via Mayo Clinic). Tension headaches are often described as a dull ache that feels like you're wearing a tight headband or rubber band around your head. They are less severe in intensity than migraines, but still annoying nonetheless. Luckily, there are some steps to take to help prevent getting a headache during PMS. 

Tips to prevent headaches before your period

Though there is still research coming out about headaches, many times they can be prevented, or at least lessened by daily habits. If you get headaches regularly during your period, doctors can prescribe a preventative medicine to help offset them. Medications have a wide range of options, from beta blockers and anticonvulsants to antidepressants and magnesium (via Mayo Clinic).

Yet, before turning to medication, it helps to try lifestyle modifications first. Some common triggers during your period include skipping meals. This wreaks havoc with your blood sugar, so make sure to eat three meals a day and healthy snacks in between. Avoid foods with too much salt, sugar, and preservatives which can bring on a headache.

Not getting enough sleep can also induce a headache, but so can sleeping too much (via Healthline). Ironically, it can be more difficult to sleep during PMS, so try these tips: Go to bed at the same time every night, darken your room, keep it at a cool temperature, and cut out screen time an hour or two before you go to sleep. Avoid caffeine and big meals before bed. To curb your stress, be preemptive and take a yoga class or practice mindful meditation. Even simply saying no can help keep too many things off your plate, which may do wonders for lowering stress levels.