The Relationship Between Menstruation and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Most people are familiar with a woman’s monthly cycle. The uterus prepares for possible pregnancy, and if that doesn’t occur, the uterine lining, consisting of blood and other tissue, is discharged through the vagina. This happens, on average, every 28 days, but many women have cycles that are either shorter or longer, or even extremely irregular and unpredictable. Many women have very normal amounts of bleeding and very little discomfort, but other women suffer from extreme cramping and very heavy blood flow. If a woman is having irregular or very painful, heavy periods, she should always see a doctor to determine the cause. But, if a doctor finds nothing physically wrong, research has shown that consuming more omega-3 can actually help curb some of the pain and inflammation that can occur during this time of the month.

A Quick Introduction to Omega-3

Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids that have myriad health benefits. They are essential for brain development and function, but are also good for the heart, help joint issues, and can even improve symptoms of ADHD. The best food sources for obtaining omega-3 are fish (such as mackerel, tuna, halibut and salmon), walnuts, and chia, hemp and flax seeds. It is also possible to take omega-3 in supplement form if you aren’t getting enough from your diet.

How to Use Omega-3 to Help Period Symptoms

According to a study published in the journal “Nutrition Research,” ingesting omega-3 along with vitamin B-12 can help ease period discomfort. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests getting 6g of omega-3 each day to improve symptoms. Even more benefit can be realized when you get the proper amount of omega-3 on a daily basis for two months or more.

Be Aware of Side Effects

Omega-3 supplements are widely available at pharmacies and grocery stores, but you should always consult a doctor before taking them, especially if you have a pre-existing condition or are on other medications. You will need to use caution if you have a bleeding disorder, are taking blood thinning drugs, or have type 2 diabetes. Most people have no adverse effects from consuming omega-3 either in foods or in supplements, but it is possible to experience gastrointestinal issues such as gas or diarrhea.

In Summary

Women deal with their menstrual cycles for decades, so anything that can help make the process less unpleasant is welcome news. Fueling our bodies with the proper nutrients and supplements, including omega-3s, can help accomplish this.