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Can Menopause Cause Nausea and Headaches?

Menopause is a time of extreme hormonal changes that typically occurs when women reach their late 40s and early 50s. Many different physical symptoms appear during menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, insomnia, vaginal dryness, hair loss, headaches, and nausea.
A woman is experiencing a headache during menopause

The full menopausal transition usually lasts about 7 years, but it can be as long as 14 years. True menopause does not occur until one year after your last period. Women often have questions about the menopausal symptoms that they are experiencing and wonder if menopause can cause nausea and headaches. The answer is yes. Different women experience different symptoms, though, and to varying degrees. However, nausea during menopause, your period, and pregnancy is quite common. 

Nausea during menopause: why does it happen? 

For some women, nausea and menopause seem to come together as a package. When we look at what happens during perimenopause and menopause, it isn’t surprising that this phase of life comes with so many physical symptoms. 

During perimenopause, the ovaries start to shut down. This is because the ovaries have fewer eggs left, so their need to function decreases. As a result of this, the ovaries start to make less estrogen. The hormones don’t stop all at once though; they fluctuate quite a bit leading up to menopause. These fluctuations in hormone levels cause various symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, hair loss, and more.

It is thought that the decrease in progesterone levels can cause nausea in menopause. Progesterone is another hormone that is produced on a regular basis during your reproductive years. It is produced each month by the ovaries after ovulation and helps regulate your cycle.

Just like with estrogen, your ovaries also produce less progesterone approaching menopause. Research has shown that low progesterone levels can cause gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, indigestion, and heartburn. These side effects of low progesterone can also lead to nausea. Menopause has also been shown to cause higher levels of stress and fatigue. These too can lead to nausea during menopause. 

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Causes of headaches during menopause 

Research studies have established a strong link between headaches and female sex hormones. The most common culprit is estrogen. Hormone levels can also influence the severity of headaches during menopause as well as during your period and when you’re pregnant.

Fluctuating hormone levels during the perimenopausal phase can increase the frequency of headaches. Recent research has even shown that the use of hormone replacement therapy can actually lead to an increase in headaches and a higher risk of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease in some women.

Because of this, some women have chosen to manage menopausal symptoms with non-hormonal medication options that include antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Others have turned to more natural ways to manage their menopausal symptoms

How to treat headaches and nausea during menopause 

Nausea and headaches can be extremely unpleasant at any time in your life. Many women come to expect these symptoms during their period or with pregnancy. However, they’re less commonly thought of as symptoms of menopause. 

Just like with pregnancy, nausea during menopause tends to be worse in the morning. It can also be associated with symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) during the perimenopausal phase. To alleviate nausea or prevent it from occurring entirely, try to avoid foods that are spicy, fatty, or greasy. 

You can also try removing things from your bedroom that can cause strong odors and adjust the temperature to a comfortable setting for better sleep. If necessary, open a window for a few minutes to remove any stuffiness or stale air. Fatigue can make nausea worse.

You might try some natural remedies for nausea that are believed to be effective during menopause and pregnancy. Upon awakening, take your time getting out of bed. Herbal teas, ginger, and plain crackers or toast might help alleviate nausea, particularly first thing in the morning. However, there’s no scientific evidence of their effectiveness.

Remedies for headaches during menopause are similar to those for nausea. You will need to avoid certain triggers that can cause your headaches or make them worse. These can include strong smells, particular foods, lack of sleep, and stress. Studies have shown that women experiencing menopausal headaches should incorporate certain things into their daily routine. Some of these include:

  • A healthy diet — Fresh foods are less likely to have additives and preservatives that can lead to increased headaches.
  • Hydration — Water flushes out toxins and waste products from your body.
  • Regular exercise can alleviate the pain associated with headaches.
  • Get at least six to eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Find ways to reduce or eliminate stress. Exercises such as yoga and tai chi can help clear your head, elevate your mood, and reduce stress.
A woman is practicing yoga to treat headaches during menopause

Some doctors may prescribe creams or tablets containing estrogen, progesterone, or both if you have severe menopausal symptoms in addition to nausea and headaches. Make sure to educate yourself about the possible side effects of hormone replacement therapy. They include an increased risk of breast cancer, deep vein thrombosis, and changes in cholesterol levels. Always discuss any concerns you have about your health and about any new medication with a health professional. 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397

https://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/guide-perimenopause

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-42451-4_3

https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0038-1673681

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