The relationship of ovarian steroids, headache activity and menstrual distress: a pilot study with female migraineurs

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; Estradiol; Female; Humans; Menstruation Disturbances; Middle Aged; Migraine Disorders; Pilot Projects; Progesterone


Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Preventive Medicine


Fourteen female volunteers who met diagnostic criteria for migraine headache monitored their headache activity and menstrual distress symptoms for one menstrual cycle. Serum estradiol and progesterone levels, and menstrual distress measures were collected at four points of the menstrual cycle: menstrual, ovulatory, luteal and premenstrual. Results indicated that one patient (7.1%) had menstrual migraine, 10 patients (71.4%) had menstrually-related headache and 3 (21.4%) had migraine headache unrelated to their menstrual cycle: subsequent analyses were conducted with the first two groups. Headache activity for the sample was highest during the premenstrual phase. Headache activity during the luteal and premenstrual phases was related to luteal phase progesterone levels. Menstrual distress was highest during the menstrual and premenstrual phases of the cycle, and these symptoms were related to higher estradiol levels, higher estradiol/progesterone ratios, and increased headache activity. These results indicated that for women with menstrual migraine or menstrually-related migraine, luteal progesterone and estradiol and the estradiol/progesterone ratio may be significantly related to menstrual distress during the premenstrual phase of the cycle. The estradiol/progesterone ratio was not more related to headache or menstrual distress than either of these ovarian hormones alone. Suggestions for future research in this area are offered.

DOI of Published Version



Headache. 1992 Jun;32(6):292-7. DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.1992.hed3206292.x Link to article on publisher's website

Journal/Book/Conference Title



At the time of publication, Lori Pbert was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

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Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID