Migraines are, emphatically, the worst. They’re debilitating, painful, and can completely sap your productivity. You might lose a whole day lying in a cold room, under a blanket, with the lights off. Worse is that some experience them as frequently as once a week, and despite many of our best attempts to study them, they remain a medical mystery. We still don’t really know what triggers them, or why some people are so much more likely to suffer from them. This can make treatment and prevention of migraines challenging, or even impossible.

Birth control pills sitting on a calendar

Is Birth Control Linked to Migraines?

However, recent studies have indicated that there could be a link between hormonal birth control and migraines in women. Some research has already shown that hormone levels can play a role in the frequency of migraines, with some women reporting that they are more likely to get migraines just before their period when their estrogen levels drop. Pregnant women also experience an increase in migraines due to the same reason.

Since most hormonal birth control contains synthetic versions of the naturally occurring female hormones estrogen and progesterone, those who experience migraines with changes to hormone levels could see drastic changes to their migraine frequency while taking birth control. Those changes could be for the better or for the worse, depending on the person: For some women, the way the pill regulates their hormone levels can actually help prevent migraines. For others, hormonal birth control can make migraines happen more often, and be even more painful. These side-effects along with increased rates of depression and anxiety have some women thinking twice about regularly using birth control.

Best Birth Control for Migraines

If you want to prevent pregnancy and prevent migraines at the same time, there are a number of different birth control options available that might help you prevent migraines. Of course, the best birth control for migraines isn’t always the same for every patient. You might need to try a few different birth control options to find one that works best for you.

The first options to explore are all of the non-hormonal options like barrier methods or non-hormonal IUD. Since hormonal changes can cause migraines with aura, it’s a good idea to stick with low-estrogen doses or those that contain progestin-only. Talk to your doctor to see what the best birth control for migraines is for you.

TMJ Can Worsen Migraines, Too

Temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ, is a system complex that describes a myriad of symptoms that occur in the jaw, including jaw painvertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and frequent headaches. If you suffer from TMJ, you are also at an increased risk of suffering from migraines. Not only can TMJ cause tension headaches and make migraines worse, but there is also even some evidence that it could trigger migraines as well. In fact, the trigeminal nerve, which studies show may play a role in the triggering of migraines, runs right past the temporomandibular joint — which can cause irritation with TMJ.

Unfortunately, whether your migraines are tied to TMJ or birth control or both, treatment for migraines is almost as mysterious as what causes them. Researchers disagree on the best treatments, and many of the medications prescribed for migraines have terrifying side effects.

Luckily, there is a drug-free treatment for TMJ proven to have an effect on migraines: TENS, a type of electric massage, that immediately reduces your muscle tension. A local dentist focused on treating TMJ can provide this treatment. During an initial appointment, your dentist can take measurements, and begin to relax the jaw muscles and tendons. When you pair this treatment with a custom-fitted orthotic appliance to keep your jaw in the proper position while you sleep, studies show that this treatment can significantly reduce the frequency of TMJ-related migraines, and may even reduce the severity.

TMJ treatment can reduce the frequency and severity of both migraines and other headaches. If you are unhappy with the results of other forms of headache treatment or have had trouble identifying and eliminating migraine triggers, you should visit us for a TMJ evaluation.

To schedule your TMJ evaluation, please call (803) 781-9090 or email Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC today.