Living With Migraine in My 50s

A headache of varying intensity, often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine headaches are sometimes preceded by warning symptoms. Triggers include hormonal changes, certain food and drink, stress and exercise.

Migraine headaches can cause throbbing in one particular area that can vary in intensity. Nausea and sensitivity to light and sound are also common symptoms.

Migraine vs. headache

Many people use the word “migraine” to describe the headache itself. But head pain is just one symptom of migraine. And headaches can be caused by many other things. Some typical characteristics of migraine headaches include:

  • The pain is throbbing or pounding and feels worse when you move around.
  • You feel it mostly on one side of your head.
  • You also have at least one of these symptoms: sensitivity to light and/or sound, nausea, and vomiting.

Migraine in My 50s

You can’t take your foot off the gas when it comes to migraine disease. I know this because I took my foot off the gas somewhere around 2010. I forgot that migraine changes right along with the body’s hormonal cycles. It had been a long time since puberty, back in the late 1970s.

Menopause didn’t come out of nowhere. I just didn’t think about it until I answered the knock on the door and there it was with all its baggage. With all the research I had done over the years, I couldn’t believe I knew nothing about the relationship between menopause and migraine. After 5 decades of living, I thought I knew what I was doing.

Migraine had its own agenda, and it didn’t care what I thought I knew.

Game Changers in My 50s

  • Menopause: To be accurate, this game changer started in my 40s during perimenopause, the years leading to menopause. My migraine frequency increased during this time, right on schedule. By the time I celebrated my 50th birthday in 2014, I was taking a migraine preventative daily to reduce episode frequency, but I still didn’t connect migraine to menopause.

Tired of hot flashes and not sleeping well, I started researching menopause. That’s when I discovered the correlation between migraine and menopause. I headed back to the doctor with questions. My doctor and I discussed hormone therapy, which could help the situation or make the migraines worse. For me, menopause symptoms were mild enough that I decided to decline hormone therapy. Talk to your doctor and consider the option that best suits your life.

Some women stop having migraines after reaching this stage of life. I was not one of those women. Once I reached the peak of the menopause hill and headed down the other side, my migraine frequency decreased and I stopped taking that preventative medication. I still had episodes triggered by my nonhormonal triggers, but the frequency was manageable without preventative medication.

  • No apologies: The more I learn about myself and life, the less I apologize for who I am. Migraine is part of who I am. I don’t want it, but I live with it anyway. Migraine is my cross to bear, but it is not my fault. I do my best to prevent episodes from happening, but attacks will occur. I owe no one an apology for a migraine attack. I reached this mindset by way of education and experience.

Once I understood what migraine was and how it worked, I minimized exposure to my triggers and more effectively treated the episodes. I educated the people around me about my illness. Anyone still expecting an apology from me was not part of my migraine team. Life is short. Spend it with people who see you for who you are and your migraine disease for what it is.


Every decade has its issues. It’s easy to get sidetracked by the headlines of the times. Between 2014 and 2024, I’ve had plenty to focus on besides my migraine disease: COVID-19, being a caregiver to my mom, the aches and pains of aging, etc. No matter what is happening in the world, I need to remember to keep my foot on the gas when it comes to migraine.



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