The Connection Between Headaches and Hormones

The Connection Between Headaches and Hormones

Headaches are a common ailment that affects people of all ages and genders. They can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, dehydration, lack of sleep, and certain foods. However, one factor that is often overlooked is the role that hormones play in causing headaches.

Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate various processes in the body, including growth, metabolism, and reproduction. They are produced by glands in the endocrine system and are released into the bloodstream to travel to target organs and tissues. Hormones can affect many different aspects of health, including mood, energy levels, and pain perception.

There are several ways in which hormones can contribute to the development of headaches. One of the most common ways is through changes in estrogen levels. Estrogen is a hormone that is primarily produced by the ovaries in women. It plays a critical role in regulating the menstrual cycle and is also involved in other processes in the body, such as bone health and cardiovascular function.

Estrogen levels fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle, with the highest levels occurring during ovulation and the lowest levels occurring during menstruation. These changes in estrogen levels can affect the brain and nervous system, leading to headaches.

One type of headache that is particularly associated with changes in estrogen levels is the menstrual migraine. This type of headache occurs in the days leading up to menstruation and is thought to be triggered by a drop in estrogen levels. Menstrual migraines are often more severe and longer-lasting than other types of headaches, and they may be more difficult to treat.

Another way in which hormones can contribute to headaches is through changes in cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. It helps to regulate the body’s response to stress and plays a role in many other processes in the body, including metabolism and immune function.

When cortisol levels are chronically elevated, as they often are in people who experience chronic stress, it can lead to a variety of health problems, including headaches. This is because high levels of cortisol can affect the brain and nervous system, leading to inflammation and other changes that can trigger headaches.

Other hormones that have been implicated in the development of headaches include progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid hormones. These hormones can affect various processes in the body, including inflammation, blood vessel dilation, and pain perception. Imbalances in these hormones can lead to headaches, particularly in people who are already predisposed to the condition.

There are several things that people can do to manage headaches that are related to hormones. One of the most important is to identify triggers and avoid them as much as possible. For example, if menstrual migraines are a problem, women may want to avoid certain foods, such as chocolate or caffeine, that can trigger headaches during this time of the month.

Other strategies for managing headaches related to hormones include lifestyle changes such as getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and reducing stress. Some people may also benefit from medications that can help to regulate hormone levels, such as birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy.

How physiotherapy can help manage headaches caused by hormones

Physiotherapy is a non-invasive, drug-free approach to managing headaches related to hormones. Physiotherapists are trained to identify the underlying causes of headaches and develop a personalized treatment plan to address these causes.

One way in which physiotherapy can help with headaches related to hormones is through the use of manual therapy. Manual therapy is a hands-on approach that involves the manipulation of soft tissue and joints to improve mobility, reduce pain, and promote healing.

Manual therapy can be particularly effective for headaches related to hormones because it can help to reduce tension in the muscles and improve blood flow to the head and neck. This can help to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with headaches and promote overall relaxation.

Physiotherapists can use manual therapy approaches to address the symptomatic areas, including the neck and shoulder muscles, the head, and face, and the jaw. One effective technique that often surprises patients is the use of manual therapy to the jaw muscles that are inside the mouth! Addressing tension here can be very effective and reducing tension in the neck, jaw, and shoulders, and resolving headaches.

In addition to manual therapy, physiotherapy can also involve the use of exercise and stretching to help manage headaches related to hormones. Exercise can help to reduce stress levels, improve blood flow, and promote overall health and wellness. This can be especially important for people who experience chronic headaches related to hormones, as regular exercise can help to reduce the frequency and severity of these headaches over time.

Stretching can also be an effective way to manage headaches related to hormones. This is because stretching can help to improve range of motion and reduce tension in the muscles, which can help to alleviate headaches and promote overall relaxation. Physiotherapists can develop a personalized stretching program for each individual patient, taking into account their unique needs and goals.

Another way in which physiotherapy can help with headaches related to hormones is through education and advice. Physiotherapists can provide patients with information about lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the frequency and severity of headaches, such as avoiding trigger foods, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress levels.

They can also provide advice on how to maintain good posture and ergonomics, as poor posture and ergonomics can contribute to tension headaches. By educating patients about these important factors, physiotherapists can help patients to take an active role in managing their headaches and improving their overall health and wellness.

Finally, physiotherapy can also involve the use of other modalities, such as heat or cold therapy, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation, to help manage headaches related to hormones. These modalities can help to reduce pain and inflammation, improve circulation, and promote healing.

Overall, physiotherapy can be a highly effective approach to managing headaches related to hormones. By addressing the underlying causes of these headaches, such as tension and inflammation, and developing a personalized treatment plan that includes manual therapy, exercise, stretching, and education, physiotherapists can help patients to reduce the frequency and severity of their headaches and improve their overall health and wellness.


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hormonal headaches typically occur on both sides of the head and are often accompanied by throbbing or pulsing sensations. They may also cause neck pain and tenderness.

No, it is not normal to have a headache every day. However, some people experience chronic headaches, which can indicate a more serious health condition. If you experience a headache every day, you should speak to your doctor.

Yes, it is important to speak to your doctor if you are experiencing frequent headaches. Your doctor can help determine the cause of your headaches and provide treatment options.

About Mathew Hughes

Body Science Therapy Mathew Hughes Registered Physiotherapist

Since earning his Masters of Science in Physiotherapy in 2013, Mathew has been specializing in acute injuries, complex injury histories, recurring injuries, performance enhancement, and concussion management.

He is one of few physiotherapists in Canada integrating advanced practices including P-DTR, Level 3 Neurokinetic Therapy, Anatomy in Motion, Cranial Therapy, and Neurofunctional Acupuncture.

He works hard to find and treat the cause of your pain or problem – in order to achieve results that last, while many other therapists repeatedly treat the symptoms which results in temporary improvement and returning symptoms.

What he values the most with his work is discovering the potential of the human body and mind, and helping his clients realize that potential. During his off-time, he enjoys nothing more than living a healthy lifestyle, learning, and connecting with family and friends. 

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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