If you are looking for a natural way to control your menstrual pain, you may want to consider supplements containing the polyunsaturated fatty acid omega-3 instead.
Menstrual cramping and omega-3s
Many women experience significant pain and cramping during their periods. It is especially true for women who suffer from symptoms of uterine fibroids. Usually, the preferred method for dealing with this pain is to take anti-inflammatory and pain medications, such as ibuprofen.
The natural anti-inflammatory action of omega-3 found in fish oils can relieve menstrual pain. This was confirmed in a study in which a group of women with painful periods (dysmenorrhoea) took 1 capsule of omega-3 fish oil or placebo daily for 3 months.
What are omega-3s?
Omega-3s are responsible for keeping you healthy in a number of essential ways. These include keeping your vision healthy, reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, and improving brain function. In addition, a key study indicates that omega-3s might also be effective at controlling menstrual pain.
What does a recent study show about the effects of omega-3s on menstrual cramps?
The study, which appeared in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, investigated the pain-relieving effects of omega-3s on a group of 95 young women (ages 18-22). One group of 47 women was given a daily omega-3 capsule for 3 months and then a placebo for three months. The other group was given the placebo and omega-3 capsule in reverse. Every participant was allowed to take 400 mg of ibuprofen whenever the cramps were too painful to handle.
Importantly, both groups took fewer doses of ibuprofen when they were taking the omega-3 supplements. That is, the supplements appeared to significantly reduce the amount of pain the patients suffered.
Why do omega-3s control period pain?
The answer to omega-3s’ effectiveness at relieving period pain may lie in the way that the fatty acid affects the body. In particular, omega-3s reduce inflammation, which may be contributing to pain. In particular, two important omega-3s are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which were in the supplements given to the study’s participants.
While these acids can be made in the body from omega-6 fatty acids consumed in the diet, the body generally only makes very small amounts of EPA and DHA. A better course of action is to consume it in fatty fish and supplements like fish oil, krill oil, and algae oil.
Consult a doctor — like VIVA EVE
Of course, you should talk with your doctor before starting a supplement. If omega-3s are right for you, you and your doctor may be able to find a dosage that helps to alleviate your menstrual pain, naturally.
However, your period pain may be caused by large uterine fibroids or adenomyosis. If so, know that the doctors at VIVA EVE have years of experience in the treatment of both. We provide high-quality, personalized care for each and every patient we see. We will partner with you to determine the best way to treat your problematic symptoms.
Sources for information referenced in this post
- Linus Pauling Institute. (2014). Retrieved from Essential Fatty Acids.
- Tokuyama, S., & Nakamoto, K. (2011). Unsaturated fatty acids and pain. Biol Pharm Bull, Feb; 34(8): 1174-1178.
- Rahbar, N., Asgharzadeh, N, & Ghorbani, R. (2012). Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on intensity of primary dysmenorrhea. Int J Gynaecol Obstet, Apr; 117(1): 45-57.