Considering asking for the pill. Any thoughts?

I have very similar symptoms to those described by CarolineAnne below in her question about hemiplegic migraines (and am also hypothyroid), but I don't get the limb numbness. I get a 'dead' feeling on half of my face and I do get the pain and eye problems on one side, and the gut stopping is also true. I find I have to eat lots during an attack (blood sugar/absorption problems? I'm definitely not diabetic). They usually last 3-4 days of what I call 'head/neck deadness' and don't respond to triptans or any OTC analgesic. I was just about to suggest to my GP that I go on to continuous combined pill as it only happens at period/ovulation time, so, logically, cutting out my normal hormone cycle may help this. I've tried progesterone cream for about a year now and, after what seemed like some initial success, my headaches are getting worse. I've had this for around 15 years; particularly bad during pregnancy but absent during breastfeeding - makes me convinced its an hormonal thing. I don't want any more kids and would be very happy to go through the menopause now to stop these headaches, but I reckon I've got another 15 years (I'm 44 by the way, but from family history...!!!) so I need to do something. There seems to be some reluctance to use the combined pill among some people, and I certainly never chose to use it when I was younger, but I don't really care about fertility or cycles now, I just want rid of the pain. I would use it continually as I have endometriosis too and shouldn't have periods. My mirena coil is running out and I need to look at whether to renew it or to try the pill (or maybe both?). Any constructive thoughts appreciated!!

10 Replies

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  • What about the mini (progesterone only) pill? I think the combined pill is not advisable if you get aura due to increased stroke risk. I started taking the mini pill about six months ago in attempt to stabilise the hormones. It has helped. I still get migraines, but not every month and the ones I do get are less painful.

  • Hi. Thanks for your reply, and its interesting that you have some relief from the progesterone only pill, so this is definitely worth considering. Do you take it continually or have a break? Do you bleed? I need to avoid any bleeding because of the endometriosis.

    The thing is, I don't get migraine with aura (well I think I've had about 3 in my life and these don't really cause a problem - take a triptan and lie down for an hour. Feel OK the next day.) The migraines I get are far more debilitating and longer lasting. More like a hemiplegic migraine or trigeminal neuralgia type thing. I don't think the stroke risk would be an issue for me as I don't typically get migraine with aura, but I need to do something about them. It seems that they are definitely hormonal so I'm keen to treat the source rather than try taking beta blockers (I have low blood pressure anyway) or antipsychotics.

  • Have a look here. migraineclinic.org.uk/wp-co...

    All the usual side effects of the mini pill apply. It's quite common to have a light flow of blood most of the month for a few months until things settle down. But, it is also quite common that you get nearly no period at all after a while.

    As this trial has been quite successful for me, I am considering getting the depo provera jab. Just haven't got round to it.

    You might also want to look into supplements (e.g. magnesium, CoQ10, vitamin B complex, etc.)

  • Thanks for your continued interest and for the info. It was because of this fact sheet that I thought of the combined pill, but wanted to know if anyone had any personal experience. The mini pill is also an option, although I've not found the Mirena or progesterone cream to be much help for the migraines - maybe I need a higher dose of progesterone in the mini pill? I am going to discuss with my GP in a week, but wanted to hear any personal advice before going, so thank you.

    I'm already taking all the supplements I can. I must rattle!! I have borderline B12 deficiency (despite taking 1000mcg per day) and am currently waiting for my coeliac test result. Am considering going gluten free anyway, but not so easy for a (mostly) vegetarian (am trying to eat some fish but am not finding it easy). I'm also hypothyroid and have some peripheral neuropathy, so have a very good diet and supplement regime to try to help these.

  • My migraines get a lot worse during times of hormonal fluctuation - ie my period. First I tried the mini-pill, which stopped all bleeding and helped a small amount with the migraines, but the aid effects were just not worth it - acne and weight gain! Next my doctor at the NMC suggested the combined pill taken continuously without a break - so again I have no hormonal fluctuation and therefore no period. It has definitively knocked out those migraines I used to get at that time of the month. I get no side effects and I'm generally really happy on it. My gp has said it's unhealthy to take the combined pill continuously, but my migraine doctor says that isn't true and it's a common misconception. Anyway, I've been doing it for over a year now. I'm on Yasmin.

  • I should also add that I don't get auras either.

  • Thank you so much for your reply. I guess this is what I was hoping to hear from someone! It sounds like it could be worth a try, if my GP is willing to consider it. I just feel that progesterone only is not going to work for me.

  • Have you thought about trying Isoflavones?they are a herbal type of oestrogen and have proved popular with migraines and as hrt in menopause.im about to try them as my migraines are hormonal like yours and its the drop in oestrogen levels at ovulation and menstruation that apparantly triggers migraines. Im on the yasmin pill at the moment altho my doctor didnt want me to be as because im over 35 the risk of stroke doubles but i was so desperate to get some relief i decided the risk was sml.i do still get migrsines in the pill free week tho. Good luck.

  • Hi Poppyjoe. No I haven't tried that and will certainly look into it. I'm sure my GP will not be keen on me taking the pill (I'm 44) but I think my general CV risk is very low so I'm personally not worried by the increased stroke risk. I'd take it continually if I did take it at all as I can't be bleeding due to endometriosis and I don't want migraines!

    I've tried both oestrogen cream and progesterone cream. The oestrogen cream really made things worse. The progesterone cream seemed to help initially, but not longer term.

    Would be interested to hear any success you have with the isoflavones!

  • I started taking the pill continuously (microgestin 1/20) 3 months ago to address hormonal migraines and it is helping. I am 49 years old and have suffered from migraines since the age of 7. When the hormonal migraines began showing up last summer I was already on a preventative treatment of botox and topamax and used sumavel injections to treat the migraines I was still getting. The sumavel did not even touch the pain of those hormonal migraines!

    I can still 'feel' something now and for those four to five days a month I tippy toe around myself, but I am not complaining, it has improved. I hope it can help you.

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