Headaches and Nausea During Menstruation: Causes and Treatments

Headaches and nausea during menstruation, while not a serious issue, can have a significant impact on women’s health. In this article, we will introduce simple yet effective treatments for headaches and nausea that anyone can apply.

What is menstrual headache and nausea?

Menstrual headache and nausea refer to the condition where women experience headaches accompanied by feelings of nausea and vomiting before and during their “period.” As the month approaches, the increased concentration of prostaglandins causes the uterus to contract, leading to nausea.

Furthermore, hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle are also the cause of headaches. Some women experience headaches before their period or during their cycle.

Headaches and nausea during menstruation significantly affect women's health.

Headaches and nausea during menstruation significantly affect women’s health.

Causes of headaches and nausea during menstruation

Headaches and nausea during menstruation are caused by various factors. Among them, there are common primary reasons such as:

Menstrual headaches and nausea due to iron deficiency

Menstrual headaches and nausea are caused by iron deficiency, a condition that can reduce blood oxygen levels, affecting the brain and causing women to feel mentally and physically exhausted. Additionally, this is also a cause of the onset of headaches in the late stage of the menstrual cycle.

Premenstrual syndrome

This syndrome is caused by a decrease in estrogen and progesterone, resulting in a lack of serotonin in the brain, causing blood vessels to constrict and leading to headaches. In addition to the symptoms of premenstrual headaches, women also experience symptoms such as food cravings, forgetfulness, breast swelling, tension, or sleep disturbances.

Fluctuations in hormone levels

Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone hormone levels during the menstrual cycle can cause headaches in women. The increase in estrogen levels during the menstrual cycle is intended to stimulate egg release, while progesterone increases to facilitate the smooth passage of the egg into the uterus.

This condition does not affect patients as much as menstrual migraines but can cause persistent headaches or nausea, making the lives of affected individuals more challenging.


The condition of nausea during menstruation is also related to endometriosis. Endometriosis is the phenomenon of endometrial tissue developing outside the uterus and spreading to the fallopian tubes. These tissues hinder the process of expelling menstrual blood from the body and gradually become inflamed and swollen.

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Due to stress

If women experience stress, it can lead to a decrease in hormone levels, causing the uterus to contract strongly, resulting in abdominal pain and nausea during menstruation.

Headaches and Nausea During Menstruation

Pregnant women are susceptible to stress and tension.

Menstrual headaches and nausea due to illness

If affected by any of the following conditions, women are prone to experiencing menstrual headaches and nausea:

Pelvic inflammatory disease This is one of the diseases that can be sexually transmitted. In addition to the symptom of nausea, patients also experience other symptoms such as: Lower abdominal pain, chills, pain during urination or sexual intercourse,…

Gastritis Typically, people with gastritis often exhibit symptoms such as: Heartburn, nausea, upper abdominal pain every night or immoderate eating. When menstruation occurs, the hormone levels change, stimulating the stomach to produce more acid, causing nausea.

Gynecological diseases Women are prone to various gynecological diseases and when affected, they may experience headaches and nausea during menstruation.

Are menstrual headaches and nausea dangerous?

Experts affirm that menstrual headaches and nausea are usually not dangerous, as they are simply a result of changes in the levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones. However, these symptoms can affect the daily lives of women. Additionally, if nausea during menstruation is accompanied by sudden severe pain, it may be a warning sign of some serious illnesses.

If you experience the following symptoms, please visit the nearest reputable medical facilities for examination and early treatment to avoid dangerous complications:

Severe vomiting and abdominal pain. Sudden drop or increase in blood pressure. Severe abdominal pain, dark and foul-smelling blood discharge. High fever or chills accompanied by abdominal pain. Abdominal pain accompanied by diarrhea. Vaginal itching, abnormal vaginal discharge.

Read more: Headaches and Nausea During Pregnancy

Treating menstrual headaches and nausea

Depending on the severity of menstrual headaches and nausea, patients may require different treatment methods. If the condition is not too severe, the following methods can be applied.

Treatment with Western medicine

When menstrual headaches and nausea occur frequently, doctors may prescribe one of the following types of medication:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

This type of medication is specifically used to treat pain caused by menstruation. This group of drugs aims to reduce the level of prostaglandins, thereby alleviating headaches and nausea. Patients can purchase nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs at Western pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription.

Commonly used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include: Ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin, among others.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder can be treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Additionally, you can use antidepressants to increase serotonin levels in the brain.

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This group of medications is mainly used to treat emotional symptoms, so they may sometimes cause side effects such as nausea. Depending on the patient’s condition, the doctor will prescribe the SSRIs with the fewest side effects.

Birth control pills

Birth control pills are oral contraceptives that can regulate hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle and reduce some emotional and physical symptoms, especially nausea during menstruation.

Moreover, birth control pills are also used to treat: Menorrhagia, menstrual cramps, irregular menstruation, endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.


If you have pelvic inflammatory disease, the doctor will prescribe you antibiotics based on the specific type of infection. When using antibiotics, you should take the full dose, even if you no longer experience symptoms. Failing to adhere to the prescribed dosage by the doctor will result in the bacteria not being completely eradicated, leading to a more severe and difficult-to-treat recurrence of the disease.

When using Western medicine to treat menstrual headaches and nausea, patients need to follow the doctor’s instructions to prevent unwanted side effects. In case the symptoms do not improve, please inform the doctor immediately to switch medications or find timely solutions.

Non-drug treatments

In addition to the three methods above, when experiencing menstrual headaches and nausea, women can consider the following methods:

  • Control breathing rhythm: Deep breathing exercises can help you relax your muscles and reduce nausea and headaches caused by the menstrual cycle.
  • Massage the lower abdomen: To dispel the feeling of abdominal pain and nausea during menstruation. Patients should gently massage the lower abdomen. First, relax your body, place both hands on your abdomen, and rub around the abdomen in a circular motion. You can combine the massage with some types of essential oils to relax and relieve abdominal pain.
  • Apply warm compress to the lower abdomen: In addition to massage, patients can also use warm water to apply to the lower abdomen to prevent cramps and reduce the feeling of nausea. However, you should use specialized heating pads to avoid burns.
  • Acupressure: When experiencing menstrual headaches, you can press on the internal point or also known as P6 acupoint. This acupoint is located on the underside of the wrist. Pressing firmly on the acupoint will help alleviate nausea, headaches, and abdominal pain during the “red light” days.
  • Peppermint: This herbal remedy has the effect of reducing prostaglandin levels and alleviating nausea for women. You can use peppermint essential oil for aromatherapy, take a peppermint bath, or drink peppermint tea.
  • Eat bland foods: If you feel nauseous during menstruation, use bland foods until you feel better. The reason is that salty foods will retain water, making the abdominal pain worse.
  • Ginger tea: This is a remedy used in traditional medicine. Ginger not only reduces prostaglandin levels in the body but also improves the feeling of nausea and menstrual cramps. You can steep ginger with boiling water or boil it directly and drink it instead of plain water.
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Tips for patients

In addition to the aforementioned treatments for menstrual headaches and nausea, you should also pay attention to prevention methods to avoid affecting your health during these sensitive days.

Ensure adequate nutrition

Women should supplement their bodies with adequate nutrition, especially iron-rich foods such as: beets, animal liver, chicken liver, beef, red beets, papayas, bananas, pineapples,…

In addition, you should also stay away from stimulants, carbonated drinks, fast food, and oily foods before and during menstruation.

Gentle exercise

Exercise not only helps keep the body healthy but also helps women prevent and minimize nausea and headaches during menstruation.

However, during menstruation, women should not engage in intense exercise and avoid swimming.

Get enough sleep

Develop a habit of going to bed early and getting enough sleep to allow the body to rest after a stressful day. With sufficient sleep, one will not feel tired, work efficiently, avoid stress, and push back the phenomenon of nausea during menstruation.

In addition, women should not stay up late, rest more, and use warm water in their daily activities during the “red light” period.

Treat the underlying cause of the disease

Menstrual headaches are a common symptom in patients with vascular headaches. In this case, you may have developed Migraine syndrome if you experience symptoms such as:

  • Feeling pulsating pain along with heart rate, increased pain when moving or working.
  • During the pain, accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light, and noise, preferring quiet places.
  • Especially experiencing vision disturbances, seeing flickering lights in front of the eyes.

To treat the root cause of menstrual headaches and nausea, you should visit a doctor and identify the cause for complete treatment. For example, Migraine, which is a chronic headache, can be relieved by using the herb Feverfew to end the pain every time you have your period.

Menstrual headaches and nausea will be quickly treated if women know how to take care of themselves and apply some of the methods mentioned above. However, if the headaches occur frequently, it is advisable to see a doctor to prevent some dangerous diseases.

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