PCOS Headaches: Causes and Treatment Options

PCOS Headaches: Causes and Treatment Options

PCOS Headaches: Causes and Treatment Options
by Tallene Posted January 12, 2024

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that can cause a myriad of different symptoms ranging from common to rare. One of the more common symptoms of PCOS women experience is headaches! 

If you’re a woman with PCOS and have headaches, but have always thought of the conditions as two separate issues, that’s probably not the case. Unfortunately, there are multiple ways PCOS could be causing regular headaches in Cysters like you!

So, I’m dedicating this post to PCOS and migraines. I’ll describe the relationship between the two and then give you some natural ways to improve your headaches and overall health as you naturally heal your PCOS

Here’s what you need to know:

pcos headaches causes and treatments

PCOS Headaches: Causes and Treatment Options

Headaches with PCOS can range from a dull ache to a splitting migraine. They can happen at any time, depending on the cause, but often a Cyster will experience migraines 2 days before your period or the first 3 days of your period. (Sometimes these are called menstrual migraines.) 

No matter when they happen or how bad they are, headaches totally disrupt your life. They can prevent you from doing things you love or enjoying the present. So, getting to the bottom of the cause and finding relief should be a priority of any Cyster! 

does pcos cause headaches

Does PCOS Cause Headaches?

Yes, PCOS can cause headaches in 3 different areas. The main culprit is hormonal imbalance. Women with PCOS often have imbalances of sex hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. Fluctuations of both hormones (specifically drops in estrogen levels during the menstrual cycle) are known to trigger migraines!

Another reason a woman with PCOS might get headaches is chronic inflammation.  Inflammation happens when the immune system attacks toxins and bacteria, and goes back down when the “threat is neutralized.” However, in women with PCOS, because of poor gut health and other triggers, the immune system often attacks healthy cells and inflammation never goes away! 

This chronic inflammation is taxing on the body, and can cause symptoms like swelling, pain, fatigue, and headaches! Plus, it can further throw your hormones out of whack, which could worsen your headaches and other symptoms as well. 

The last potential trigger of a PCOS migraine is insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when your body doesn’t properly process glucose, and instead of turning sugar to energy, it absorbs it into the body. This raises your blood sugar, worsens hormonal imbalances, triggers inflammation, and spirals into plenty other common PCOS symptoms headaches are one of those! 

And since insulin resistance can negatively impact inflammation and hormone balance, all three of these likely work together to give you chronic headaches. Luckily, there are natural ways to improve these conditions and hopefully improve your headaches as well!

how to treat pcos headaches

How To Treat PCOS Headaches

Try cutting gluten and dairy. 

Gluten and dairy both have proteins that the immune system sometimes identifies as harmful. Because of this, the immune system attacks the proteins, causing gut health issues and inflammation. I recommend you try cutting both gluten and dairy for 30 days and see if you identify improvements in symptoms like bloating, digestive trouble, fatigue, skin issues, and headaches! 

Eat balanced meals.

Eating the right foods can help all three of these problem areas! Of course, if you choose to cut dairy and gluten, that’s a great start for improving inflammation! But reducing processed foods, sugar, red meat, alcohol, and caffeine and instead eating more nutrient-rich foods will help you manage insulin resistance and hormone balance as well. You could experience more regulated hormone and blood sugar levels that could see improvements in headaches as a result. 

Here’s more on foods to avoid with PCOS and here’s also a list of my favorite PCOS-fighting foods! To make it really easy, though, I recommend downloading The Cysterhood app which is full of recipes that promote your healing goals and taste delicious!  

Prioritize sleep.

Sleep is essential for good health, but specifically for hormone balance and insulin resistance! Getting enough sleep can help you regulate everything in your body better and reduce the symptoms of hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance like migraines.  

However, I know this can be super hard for Cysters! Many women with PCOS struggle with sleep, and many even develop sleep apnea, insomnia, or other disorders. If this is you, here are some tips for getting better sleep with PCOS

Do low-impact exercises. 

Exercise can also improve your risk factors of developing migraines. But, I don’t recommend any and every type of workout! If the goal is to maintain hormone balance, you’ve gotta keep your stress levels low that means no heart-pumping exercises. 

I recommend low-impact exercises like yoga, pilates, light cardio, walking, and slow-weighted workouts. These exercises will help you increase insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, and balance your hormones, among so many other things! Because it can help with so much, headaches will likely improve too with other conditions. You can find PCOS-specific workout guides on the app

Practice stress management. 

Stress is another contributor to hormone imbalance, insulin resistance, and inflammation. By learning and practicing stress-management techniques, you can do a lot to help your headaches and other PCOS symptoms! 

Exercise can help with stress management, and so can things like practicing mindfulness, using essential oils, spending time in nature, getting enough sleep, and doing things you love. Here’s more on PCOS self-care. 

Take intentional supplements. 

Always consult your doctor before trying any new supplements, but supplements can be a good way of naturally supporting your body’s healing! Here are some of the best supplements for your PCOS headache: 

The effects of PCOS on the body can definitely cause headaches, but you can find relief! 

PCOS can be reversed and you can live symptom free! With a deep understanding of PCOS and the right lifestyle changes, you can thrive and we’re here to support you. For more ways to heal, head to the PCOS Weight Loss blog and don’t forget to listen to my podcast, “A Cyster and Her Mister!” The Cysterhood is here to help empower you to take back your life despite PCOS.

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2 thoughts on “PCOS Headaches: Causes and Treatment Options”

  1. Hi i was wondering if alcohol from tinctures like that have grain alcohol are okay to use for anxiety. Because i use them sparingly only in emergencies when i feel the absolute worst. They have chamomile or passionflower and so forth but their base is , ‘grain alcohol ‘ i was wondering if it has negative effects like straight vodka shots or beer on insulin levels.

    1. Alcohol impacts those of us with PCOS differently than the average person due to the prevalence of insulin resistance and our increased risk of fatty liver. Ultimately, it’s up to you how much of any type of alcohol you consume, but I tent to limit it myself!

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