Vitamin E may relieve menstrual pain

April 2005

Researchers in Iran have evaluated the efficacy of vitamin E for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea (pelvic pain around the time of menstruation).

This randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology [1], and showed that adolescents with menstrual pain, who took vitamin E for 5 days at the beginning of menstruation, reduced the severity and duration of their pain severity and duration, while also cutting blood loss.

Primary dysmenorrhea is thought to be related to prostaglandin production, which is associated with pain. As such, vitamin E, which inhibits the release of arachidonic acid and its conversion to prostaglandin, represents a potential therapy. Indeed, previous research has shown that taking 500 IU vitamin E daily significantly reduces pain severity [2].

Given that vitamin E is commercially available as a liquid capsule containing 200 IU, Dr Ziaei and co-workers, from Tarbiat Modarres University in Tehran, randomly assigned 278 girls, aged 15 to 17 years, to receive two such capsules, or placebo, twice daily, from two days before until three days after the start of menstruation.

Assessment of the girls after four months of treatment showed that, compared with placebo, vitamin E caused significant reductions in pain severity, as measured on a visual analogue scale, pain duration (1.6 hours vs 17 hours), and blood loss, as assessed by a validated Pictorial Blood Loss Assessment Chart.

“These data suggest that vitamin E represents a safe and effective treatment for primary dysmenorrhea,” conclude the researchers.

  1. Ziaei S, Zakeri M, Kazemnejad A. A randomised controlled trial of vitamin E in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhoea. BJOG 2005;112(4):466-9.
  2. Ziaei S, Faghihzadeh S, Sohrabyand F. A randomised placebo-controlled trial to determine the effect of vitamin E in treatment of primary dysmenorrhea. BJOG 2001;108:1181-1183.

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