The prevalence and characteristics of primary headaches in a large sample of postmenopausal women were investigated. Seventy-six out of 556 women (13.7\%) were affected by headache of either the migraine or tension type. In 82\% of cases onset had preceded the menopause. The postmenopausal course of headaches with a premenopausal onset differed according to type of headache and type of menopause. Indeed, while migraine improved in almost two-thirds of cases, tension-type headache worsened or did not change in 70\% of cases. However, in women who had undergone surgical ovariectomy, the natural course of migraine was worse than in those who had a physiological menopause (P = 0.003). Among the symptoms covered by the Kuppermann Index, only anxiety and insomnia were correlated with headache. The favourable course of migraine in the postmenopausal period can be attributed primarily to the absence of variations in sex hormone levels although psychological factors also seem to play a fundamental role.
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