Menstrual-related pain conditions: dysmenorrhea and migraine

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2008 Jun;17(5):879-91. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2007.0440.


Menstrual disorders affect millions of women in the United States and represent an important health burden. The most common menstrual disorders are dysmenorrhea and headache; these conditions are leading causes of work or school absenteeism and substantially impact quality of life. Headache associated with menses is often migraine and referred to as menstrual migraine. Although the pathogenesis of menstrual-related pain conditions is not fully understood, menstrual-related overproduction of prostaglandins is implicated in the pathophysiology of both menstrual migraine and dysmenorrhea. In clinical practice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are considered the first-line therapeutic option for managing pain associated with dysmenorrhea. NSAIDs also play a role in the acute treatment and intermittent prophylaxis of migraine. Triptans, a class of highly selective serotonin receptor agonists, represent the gold standard for acute treatment of migraine. In addition, hormone therapy is effective in many cases for treating dysmenorrhea and may be beneficial in the management of menstrual migraine. Thus, overlapping treatment regimens may be advantageous in treating the coexisting menstrual-related pain conditions of dysmenorrhea and migraine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Dysmenorrhea / drug therapy*
  • Dysmenorrhea / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstruation / drug effects
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Migraine Disorders / prevention & control
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tryptamines / therapeutic use*
  • United States
  • Women's Health


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Tryptamines