If you're among the millions of women who get painful headaches during their periods there's good news for you, Dr Bruce Hensel reported.
Ten to 15 million women experience excruciating migraines around the time of their periods. Studies show hormone fluctuations are to blame. Experts are studying a new drug combination that may completely eliminate these monthly migraines.
While most of us enjoy a sunny day, someone who suffers migraine headaches would rather hide. That's what it's like for Traci Fulmer. Her debilitating headaches used to strike at the same time every month.
"It was like clockwork with, in conjunction when I was not taking birth control pills for that week off, that it was always hitting on that same day," Fulmer said.
Dr. Patricia Sulak says that like millions of other women, Traci gets menstrual migraines from changes in her hormone levels.
"Migraine headaches that occur around the time of the menstrual period are the worst migraine headaches that women get," Sulak said.
So Traci is participating in a groundbreaking study looking at a combination of continuous birth control pills and a prescription headache medicine called frovatriptan. The drug works by narrowing blood vessels around the brain and helps reduce nausea, light sensitivity, and other migraine-related symptoms.
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Every few months, Traci takes a break from the continuous birth control pills.
"But before they take that four day break, we're gonna start this preventative medicine called frovatriptan or they're going to get the placebo," Dr. Sulak said.
So far Traci is convinced she's getting the real medicine. Her headaches are almost non-existent.
"I've been able to do a lot more with the kids, I'm not spending time where I have to say, 'Please go away. Mom's got a headache today.' It really makes a difference," Fulmer said.
"Frovatriptan is FDA approved for treating migraine headaches, but not for preventing them. More studies are needed. Ask your doctor what's right for you," Dr. Hensel said.
29.5 million Americans get migraines.
Up to 55 percent of women with migraines get them around their menstrual cycle.
Women who take standard oral contraceptives may have an increased risk for menstrual migraines.
Researchers are now studying the addition of another medication, called frovatriptan (FROVA), for women with menstrual migraines.
For more details, refer to our comprehensive research summary.
For information on migraines or menstrual migraines:
American Headache Society, http://www.achenet.org
National Headache Foundation, http://www.headaches.org
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, http://www.ninds.nih.gov
National Pain Foundation, http://www.nationalpainfoundation.org