I had debilitating migraines every month until I went for birth control

I vividly remember the first time I got a migraine. It was eighth grade and I was in math class. I had felt a dull ache developing inside my head earlier that day, but figured it was just a typical headache. Soon the pain turned into a throbbing on the right side of my head. I got up to tell Teacher I had to leave and almost felt like I was going to pass out. I was excused from class and a friend escorted me to the principal’s office where my mother came to pick me up. That was the beginning of a persistent migraine that I still struggle with today.

For those of you who have not had migraines, think of a headache but 10 times worse. My pain is always stronger on one side, to the point where I feel like I have to lie down or pass out. Unfortunately, in my experience, it doesn’t help much.

After my first migraine, I had an over-the-counter pain reliever with me for years. If I felt the pain start to come up, I would try to stop it before it hit me with full force. This would sometimes temporarily improve the pain, but then the migraines found their way back later in the day. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I decided to try birth control to relieve the pain and hopefully make these occurrences less common.

My doctor was the first to suggest I take the pill and at first I was concerned. Not only was I worried about bringing the matter up with my parents, I also didn’t know if it would work. My doctor explained to me that since my migraines began around the time of my period, it was likely caused by the hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. Birth control could help balance these hormones and hopefully bring some relief from the migraines.

Related: Listen to me migraine sufferers: this cooling “headache hat” changed my life

I decided it would be worth taking birth control if it really relieved my migraines, so I spoke to my parents, who supported my decision to take the pill. It was obvious that there was a link between these hormonal surges and my headache, and birth control could play a big role in making the migraines less intense or even getting rid of them completely.

The story goes on

For the next several months I still had persistent headaches, but I could find that they were much milder.

The results weren’t instant. I started birth control in hopes that the migraines would magically go away. For the next several months I still had persistent headaches, but I could find that they were much milder. Instead of feeling like I was passing out, I could close my eyes for a few hours or take a pain reliever and get through the day. I still had to be proactive and have medication with me, but the migraines didn’t affect my life as much as it did before.

Now I only have migraines every few months. Other factors, like stress levels, definitely play a role. I can sometimes go four or five months without migraines, which I never thought possible before. I am so relieved that I was able to find a solution at a young age that will continue to have a positive effect on my general well-being.

If you are thinking of preventing your migraines, this is your sign – provided your doctor thinks this is the right decision. It might seem intimidating, or you might think it won’t work, but I know that I am very happy that I made the decision to give it a try. It made my migraines much less frequent and much more bearable.