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National Menstrual Migraine Coalition Launched

April 18, 2005

"We're going to identify needs in this area and put together educational materials for patients and health care providers. From that, we'll be able to give people good education, lifestyle tips, and information on how to maintain a good quality of live while living with Menstrual Migraine."

Suzanne Simons
Executive Director, National Headache Foundation

The National Headache Foundation (NHF) has announced the formation of the National Menstrual Migraine Coalition to raise awareness of a distinct, but little known Migraine condition, estimated to affect nearly 13 million women in the U.S. Menstrual Migraines are often severe, long-duration Migraines that have a higher probability of recurrence than other Migraines. The NHF has assembled a group of leading headache specialists and others to form the coalition. The National Menstrual Migraine Coalition is sponsored through an educational grant from Endo Pharmaceuticals. A special web site for the Coalition has been set up at Tennis pro Serena Williams, who suffers with Menstrual Migraine is acting as a spokesperson for the Coalition.

“Women often tolerate menstrual Migraine pain without understanding that it is treatable,” said Suzanne Simons, executive director of the National Headache Foundation. “Women will be able to get the information they need at our web site and then talk to their healthcare providers if they think they might suffer from menstrual Migraines.”

Up to 60 percent of Migraines in women are menstrually related. Menstrual Migraines can have a serious and debilitating impact on women’s lives because they last longer than other Migraines, come back more often and are harder to treat. Many women may not realize that the severe, recurring headache they get during menstruation could be a menstrual Migraine. Women who experience headaches around their period for three months or longer should definitely consult their doctors.

“Doctors and patients alike should be better informed about the signs and symptoms of menstrual Migraine,” said Larry Newman, M.D., Director of the Headache Institute at Roosevelt Hospital, and Chair of the National Menstrual Migraine Coalition. “If we can improve awareness of menstrual Migraine as a distinct condition, diagnosis should improve, and more women will gain access to appropriate treatment.”

The coalition will help educate both patients and healthcare providers about the prevalence, diagnosis and treatment of menstrual Migraines. Among its activities, it will survey women Migraine sufferers to identify their needs and then help to educate patients and their healthcare providers about how to better manage this unique type of Migraine. Information on headache causes and treatment is available at the NHF web site,

Menstrual Migraine
Menstrual Migraines can be classified in two types: pure menstrual Migraines and menstrually related Migraines (MRM). Pure menstrual Migraines occur exclusively during menstruation. Women who suffer from MRM consistently experience Migraines during their menstrual cycle but may also suffer from Migraines at other times of the month. Menstrual Migraine pain can disrupt a women’s ability to function for up to three days at a time. While the exact causes of menstrual Migraine are uncertain, the drop in estrogen levels during the menstrual cycle may trigger a menstrual Migraine.

Migraine Disease
Migraine is a genetic neurological disease affecting nearly 33 million Americans. Migraine disease can be disabling, as evidenced by missed days of work, lost time with family and friends, and a disrupted daily routine. Migraine attacks result in 112 million bedridden days per year for U.S. Migraineurs alone. The best estimate is that the cost to U.S. industry of absenteeism and reduced productivity due to Migraine is $13 billion dollars per year and that U.S. Migraineurs lose more than 157 million workdays each year to Migraine attacks.

Migraine is characterized by recurrent, usually painful headaches lasting 4 to 72 hours, when untreated, and with symptoms that may include moderate to severe headache pain that is aggravated by routine activity, throbbing head pain, head pain located on one side of the head, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and/or sound. In some cases, the headache phase of a Migraine attack does not occur, so it is possible to have a Migraine without the headache.

Kudos to the National Headache Foundation for forming the National Menstrual Migraine Coalition and to Endo Pharmaceuticals for the grant funding the project. One of the most frustrating things women have told me is that their doctors have actually recommended a hysterectomy as treatment for their Menstrually Associated Migraines (MAM). Unfortunately, I've that advice is still given all too frequently, and it's not the answer. There is no guarantee that a hysterectomy will reduce the frequency or severity of MAM. In fact, a hysterectomy could increase the frequency and severity or make no difference at all. It's time for this educational initiative. Bravo.


Press Release: "National Headache Foundation Announces First Menstrual Migraine Coalition to Educate Millions of Women and Their Healthcare Providers." Chicago. April 12, 2005.

Telephone Interview: Suzanne Simons, Executive Director, National Headache Foundation. April, 2005.


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other headache disorders and their family, friends, and care partners.
Anyone interested in the concerns or patients with these disorders is welcome to join.

The AHMA exists to EASE the burden of Migraine and other headache disorders through Education, Awareness, Support, and Engagement.


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