What are pure menstrual migraine and menstrual-related migraine?
Pure menstrual migraine is when women experience migraine only around their menstrual cycles. However, more women experience menstrual-related migraine, which means they have triggers other than just their period.
“And when you look at the word "menstrual migraine," that term that's used a lot, that refers to the woman [with migraine] who has a predictable headache around the time of her period. Now it could start several days before her period, it could be several days into her period, and it doesn't necessarily have to be with every single menstrual cycle. If the woman notices that association about 66% of the time, or about two out of every three cycles and it's predictable, that would define menstrual migraine.
“So that's very vulnerable, but the nice thing is it's predictable, so that can help lend to treatment because we can target treatment just around that vulnerable time of the month. And to take that a step further, some women that have menstrual migraine, it is just around the time of their period, and we call that pure menstrual migraine. So that woman's management could be approached just for that vulnerable time of the month, and she may not necessarily need to take something all month long. However, the majority of women that have menstrual migraine, it's called menstrual-related migraine. So that means they have triggers other than their period, so it becomes extremely important to keep a headache diary or calendar to identify other triggers.”
There are different types of migraine related to a woman’s menstrual cycle: pure menstrual migraine and menstrual-related migraine. The two types are treated differently, and the majority of women that have menstrual migraine have menstrual-related migraine, meaning they have attacks at other times of the month as well.
Susan Hutchinson, MD
Author - The Women's Guide to Managing Migraine
Orange County Migraine & Headache Center
Dr. Susan Hutchinson is a headache specialist and board-certified family practice physician. In February 2007, she founded Orange County Migraine & Headache Center, dedicated to serving patients with headache and mood disorders. Although she is not a psychiatrist, she has developed a special interest in treating mood disorders as well as headache. The mood disorders she treats include depression; anxiety; bipolar disorder; ADHD; and panic attacks. Dr. Hutchinson suffers from migraine headaches which gives her an empathy with her patients.
She felt such a calling to help patients with headache and mood disorders that she decided to specialize and devote her career to alleviating the suffering caused by both headaches and mood disorders. She lectures nationally on the subject of headache; has written dozens of articles for medical journals; participated in headache research projects and is very active in numerous professional organizations such as the American Headache Society and the National Headache Foundation.
She is the immediate post-chair of the Women’s Issues section of the American Headache Society after serving in the chair position for 5 years. Dr. Hutchinson is a dynamic and sought-after speaker. She speaks for community groups as well as professional groups. In 2010 she became the President of The Orange County Chapter of the California Academy of Family Physicians.