Medicine does not know why menstruation is uncomfortable, or why it is much more uncomfortable for some women than for others, or from month to month.
Occasionally, severe menstrual pain indicates the presence of endometriosis (a condition in which uterine tissue is growing in places other than the uterus) or uterine fibroids (benign tumors in the uterus). In most cases, no identifiable abnormality can be found. Natural substances known as prostaglandins seem to play a central role in menstrual pain, but their detailed actions are not fully understood. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen relieve pain and reduce levels of some prostaglandins. These drugs are the mainstay of conventional treatment for menstrual pain. Oral contraceptive treatment may also help.
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Fish Oil article.
It is not clear how vitamin E could affect menstrual pain.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Vitamin E article.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Magnesium article.
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
The herb cramp bark has traditionally been used to relieve menstrual pain. Unfortunately, it has not received any significant scientific attention. Numerous other herbs and supplements have been suggested for menstrual pain relief, including boswellia , bromelain , Coleus forskohlii , dong quai , turmeric , and white willow . However, there is no reliable scientific support for these treatments.
Various herbs and supplements may interact adversely with drugs used to treat dysmenorrhea. For more information on this potential risk, see the individual drug article in the Drug Interactions section of this database.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -