Objective.— To characterize menstrually associated headaches and migraine in adolescent girls and identify any developmental and pubertal changes.
Background.— Headache and migraine is a common problem in adolescents with a transition to adult patterns. One pattern of adult migraine is the menstrual association in a significant number of women.
Methods.— A retrospective analysis was performed of characteristics of adolescent's headaches including association with menstrual pattern. A detailed analysis of the patient- and parent-reported headache characteristics and patterns of longitudinal change with development and puberty was reviewed, including timing of headache with age and menstrual period and progression of these events over the adolescence.
Results.— Of the 896 girls between 9 and 18 years old reviewed at initial evaluation, 331 (50.3% of menarchal girls and 36.9% of all girls) report experiencing headaches with their menstrual period. Of those reporting a menstrual pattern, 63.6% reported migraines starting between day −2 and +3 of their menstrual period start. Girls with menstrual migraine reported increased associated symptoms compared with girls without menstrual migraine. There was no difference in disability between girls with a menstrual pattern and those without a menstrual pattern (t = 1.64; P = .10). Additionally, 160 girls reported a monthly pattern to their headaches prior to beginning menstruation, suggestive of a menstrually related migraine pattern prior to menstruation.
Conclusions.— The pattern of menstrual association begins to become apparent during adolescence. Once the menstrual pattern has developed, this association is stable. Early identification of this pattern has potential long-term benefit for improved lifelong outcome.