Menstrual versus non-menstrual attacks of migraine without aura in women with and without menstrual migraine

Cephalalgia. 2015 Dec;35(14):1261-8. doi: 10.1177/0333102415575723. Epub 2015 Mar 9.


Objective: The objective of this article is to compare clinical characteristics of menstrual and non-menstrual attacks of migraine without aura (MO), prospectively recorded in a headache diary, by women with and without a diagnosis of menstrual migraine without aura (MM) according to the International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD).

Material and methods: A total of 237 women from the general population with self-reported migraine in ≥50% of their menstrual periods were interviewed and classified by a physician according to the criteria of the ICHD II. Subsequently, all participants were instructed to complete a prospective headache diary for at least three menstrual cycles. Clinical characteristics of menstrual and non-menstrual attacks of MO were compared by a regression model for repeated measurements.

Results: In total, 123 (52%) women completed the diary. In the 56 women who were prospectively diagnosed with MM by diary, the menstrual MO-attacks were longer (on average 10.65 hours, 99% CI 3.17-18.12) and more frequently accompanied by severe nausea (OR 2.14, 99% CI 1.20-3.84) than non-menstrual MO-attacks. No significant differences between menstrual and non-menstrual MO-attacks were found among women with MO, but no MM.

Conclusion: In women from the general population, menstrual MO-attacks differ from non-menstrual attacks only in women who fulfil the ICHD criteria for MM.

Keywords: Menstrual migraine; characteristics; classification; headache diary; menstruation; migraine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstruation*
  • Migraine without Aura / diagnosis*
  • Migraine without Aura / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Report*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires