Hormone supplementation differently affects migraine in postmenopausal women

Headache. 2002 Oct;42(9):924-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1526-4610.2002.02215.x.


Objective: To evaluate the effects of three schemes of oral hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on migraine course in postmenopausal women.

Methods: Thirty-eight patients presenting for clinical evaluation of menopausal status and suffering from migraine were enrolled. The observational period lasted 7 months, during which women filled in a daily diary with the clinical features of headache attacks and analgesic use. We evaluated climacteric symptoms, anxiety and depression. After a 1-month run-in period, women were assigned to one of three regimens of HRT: estradiol hemihydrate 1 mg/day plus norethisterone 0.5 mg/day for 28 days, in a continuous combined scheme; oral conjugated estrogens 0.625 mg/day for 28 days plus medroxyprogesterone acetate 10 mg/day in the last 14 days, in a sequential continuous scheme; and estradiol valerate 2 mg/day for 21 days plus cyproterone acetate 1 mg/day from day 12 to 21 in a sequential cyclical scheme. Follow-up evaluations were performed at 3 and 6 months.

Results: During the run-in period, the three subgroups of patients were similar as far as the features of migraine are concerned. Overall, a progressive increase in attack frequency (from 2.2 +/- 1.0 to 3.8 +/- 1.3, P<.001), days with headache (from 3.4 +/- 1.3 to 4.9 +/- 1.9, P<.001), and analgesic consumption (from 3.4 +/- 1.3 to 5.6 +/- 2.2, P<.001) was observed after 6 months. Duration of attacks decreased (from 18.1 +/- 7.4 to 13.6 +/- 4.2 hours, P =.005), whereas severity worsened (from 1.9 +/- 0.2 to 2.1 +/- 0.2, P<.001). The increase in number of days with headache and number of analgesics used was smaller in the group receiving the continuous combined regimen than in the other two groups.

Conclusion: Although HRT typically will lead to some worsening of headache syndrome, estradiol hemihydrate plus norethisterone given in a combined continuous scheme was the regimen best tolerated by our patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Estrogens / adverse effects*
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Postmenopause*
  • Progestins / adverse effects*
  • Progestins / therapeutic use
  • Prospective Studies


  • Estrogens
  • Progestins