Dysmenorrhea is severe pain associated with the menstrual cycle. Dysmenorrhea is considered to be primary when there is no other pathology affecting the reproductive system. It is considered secondary if it is due to pathology, like endometriosis. The pain in primary dysmeorrhea is believed to be caused by the uterus contracting and from lack of oxygen in the area. Pain is usually perceived as cramps, but may be a dull, constant ache. Symptoms usually begin shortly before or during menses (bleeding), and may include nausea, diarrhea, frequent urination, depression or mood swings, or breast tenderness. There are some natural approaches that are helpful to women who suffer from PMS or dysmenorrhea.
A cross-over study, appearing in the Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal (2010; 16(4): 408-13) looked at 36 women with dysmenorrhea (age 18 – 22). The subjects were randomly given either a fish oil supplement (550 mg EPA and 205 mg DHA) or a placebo each day for three months. After three months, the roles of the subjects were reversed, with the original placebo group receiving the supplement and the supplemented group receiving the placebo.
The severity of symptoms were significantly reduced in the group receiving the fish oil. Those supplemented also had less back pain, less abdominal pain and used analgesics less than the placebo group. The results suggest that fish oil supplementation may be beneficial to women with dysmenorrhea.