A menstrual period occurs when the blood, tissue and unfertilized egg leave the uterus, through the vagina. In most women, the menstrual period occurs between every 24 to 34 days and is essential for her fertility. Most women experience irregular menstruation, including abnormal or frequent bleeding, and pain during the period at some point. However, it is best to consult a doctor if you experience menstrual problems regularly to determine the underlying cause. Certain supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids may help manage problems associated with menstrual periods.
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About Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, or polyunsaturated fatty acids, are essential fatty acids that are important for normal growth and development of children, and for proper brain function. They can be obtained from fish such as salmon, halibut and tuna, as well as nut oils and flaxseeds. Your doctor may also prescribe omega-3 fatty acid supplements to treat a variety of conditions, including heart disease, arthritis, ADHD, schizophrenia and certain types of cancers. The supplements are available in capsule and paste form. The dose and form depends on the age and condition being treated.
Link Between Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Periods
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements along with vitamin B-12 can help significantly reduce discomfort associated with menstrual cramps, according to a study published in the May 2000 issue of the journal “Nutrition Research.” The University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC, recommends 6 g of omega-3 fatty acids per day to lower the inflammation and pain during a period. Tekoa L. King, author of the book “Pharmacology for Women’s Health,” also points out that daily consumption of omega-3 fatty acid supplements for two months can significantly improve dysmenorrhea, or menstrual pain, along with inflammation.
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are generally safe to use, although side effects such as gas, bloating and diarrhea may sometimes occur. UMMC also warns that the supplements increase bleeding in individuals taking blood thinning medications and in those with bleeding disorders. Also, individuals with type 2 diabetes may experience increased fasting blood sugar levels.
Although omega-3 fatty acid supplements are available at most pharmacies without a prescription, always talk to a doctor before taking them to treat menstrual problems. Inform your doctor about any pre-existing conditions and other medications you might be taking to help your doctor make an informed decision.
- "Nutrition Research"; Menstrual Discomfort in Danish Women Reduced by Dietary Supplements of Omega-3 PUFA and B12 (Fish Oil or Seal Oil Capsules); Bente Deutch, et al.; May 2000
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Menstrual Pain
- "Pharmacology for Women's Health"; Tekoa L King, et al.; 2009
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids