Science Update

Vitamin E and fish oil help relieve menstrual pain according to recent study

Dysmenorrhea is one of the most common complaints among young women. Pain starts a few hours before or at the onset of menstruation and often ceases within a few days. The pain can be debilitating, leading to nausea, vomiting, fatigue and diarrhea. Pharmacological therapies are often not effective and have undesirable side effects.

Previous studies have shown that nutrients such as magnesium, calcium and vitamin E may be helpful to treat menstrual pain. Metabolites of prostaglandins and arachidonic acid also play a role in dysmenorrhea, so improving fatty acid ratios in the diet may reduce inflammation leading to a reduction in pain.  Therefore, using these in combination should have synergistic effects.

According to a recent study published in Gynecological Endocrinology, researchers demonstrated that vitamin E and fish oil, in combination or separately, relieve menstrual pain.

In this double-blind, randomized clinical trial, 100 patients ranging from 18 to 25 years of age were randomly assigned to four groups receiving fish oil (180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA), vitamin E (200 IU), vitamin E and fish oil combination, or placebo daily for 8 weeks. The severity of the pain was measured by a visual analog scale (VAS) at the beginning and end of the study.

The symptoms reported during menses included leaving daily tasks (72%), fatigue (89.8%), nausea (51%), vomiting (31.8%), diarrhea (19.01%), and headache (42.1%).

According to the results, omega-3 and vitamin E supplements significantly reduced menstrual pain compared to placebo. The group that received the combined vitamin E and omega-3s experienced a greater positive effect on menstrual pain compared to the other groups.

Dysmenorrhea is also frequently associated with estrogen dominance; therefore, hormone assessment and support with progesterone, DIM, and/or calcium-d-glucarate may be helpful for balancing the estrogen/progesterone ratio.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS


Source: Sadeghi N, Paknezhad F, et al. Vitamin E and fish oil, separately or in combination, on treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a double-blind, randomized clinical trial. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2018 Mar 15:1-5. doi: 10.1080/09513590.2018.1450377