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Headache. 2017 Jan;57(1):17-20. doi: 10.1111/head.12942. Epub 2016 Oct 5.

Presenting a New, Non-Hormonally Mediated Cyclic Headache in Women: End-Menstrual Migraine.

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Departments of Psychiatry and Anesthesiology, University of North Carolina, and Carolina Headache Institute - Research, Durham, NC, USA.
Carolina Headache Institute - Neurology, Durham, NC, USA.



This retrospective observational study describes what appears to be a not-uncommon yet not previously typified headache disorder, "end-menstrual migraine" (EMM) named for its proximate occurrence with the terminal days of menstrual bleeding each month.


Our menstrual migraine (MM) clinic's database was queried for patients with migraine, regular menses, and the locally used diagnostic code of EMM, signifying the patient's assertion that she had migraine at the end of menses as well as calendar data confirming that association. Serum ferritin levels were available for all subjects with EMM.


Among the most recently seen 119 women in the clinic, 85 had both regular menses and a diagnosis of migraine, and were thus appropriate for evaluation. In this selected population, 30 women (35.3%) were confirmed to have EMM. Twenty-eight of those 30 patients (93.3%) had ferritin levels that fell below the generally accepted lower desirable limit of 50 ng/mL (mean = 21.9 ng/mL) - half of whom fell below 18 ng/mL, the established minimum levels for women.


EMM is a common complaint in women evaluated for menstrual-related migraine (MRM), yet these migraines occur many days after the estrogen withdrawal that precipitates MRM. The authors do not believe that EMM is hormonally mediated, but rather that it is causally related to menstrual blood loss, resulting in a brief relative anemia with consequent migraine. Further study is needed to substantiate this association, search for confounders, and evaluate response to iron therapy.


anemia; end-menstrual migraine; ferritin; migraine

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