"Menstrual" migraine: towards a definition

Cephalalgia. 1996 Feb;16(1):11-21. doi: 10.1046/j.1468-2982.1996.1601011.x.


"Menstrual" migraine, a term misused by both patients and doctors, lacks precise definition. This dissertation critically reviews papers on the subject and examines the problem from a clinical perspective. A definition is proposed that the term "menstrual" migraine should be restricted to attacks exclusively starting on or between day 1 +/- 2 days of the menstrual cycle; the woman should be free from attacks at all other times of the cycle. This definition, unlike many used previously, links to a specific mechanism; the timing is consistent with oestrogen withdrawal. If this is correct, "oestrogen withdrawal" migraine may be a better term. Future studies, necessary to support or refute these proposals, are suggested.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology
  • Menstruation Disturbances / diagnosis
  • Menstruation Disturbances / physiopathology*
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*


  • Estrogens