The efficacy of fish oil is better than ibuprofen on treatment of pain associated with menstruation


More than one half of women of reproductive age have some degree of pain associated with menstruation for 8 hours to 3 days each month; this kind of pain is called dysmenorrhea. There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea occurs in the absence of gynecological disorders and usually is caused by natural chemicals called prostaglandin; before menstruation starts, the level of prostaglandins increases in the lining of the uterus, and during menstruation this level decreases. Usually, pain decreases as the levels of prostaglandins decrease. Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by a disorder in the reproductive system (for example, endometriosis and ovarian cysts). On this occasion, we will talk about primary dysmenorrhea.

Dysmenorrhea has detrimental effects on women: school and work absenteeism, interference with daily living activities and social relationships, and higher intake of medications, for example.

Usually, dysmenorrhea is treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or hormonal medications; and regular physical exercise, getting enough sleep, and relaxation techniques can also be useful. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can increase the risk of several disorders, especially when used over a long time; besides, they can have side effects (among them, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, etc.). One of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used is ibuprofen (it works by reducing production of prostaglandin), which when compared to other drugs has more efficacy and lesser side effects.

Recent studies have shown that fish oil have beneficial effects on primary dysmenorrhea. As the main mechanism of fish oil is also the suppression of prostaglandin production, a study to compare the efficacy of fish oil and ibuprofen on the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea has been carried out.

This study has concluded that the efficacy of fish oil is better than ibuprofen on treatment of severe pain in primary dysmenorrhea, because the reduction of pain intensity with fish oil was higher than with ibuprofen. And to this may be added that fish oil has fewer side effects than ibuprofen. So, fish oil could represent an alternative to the use of some medications in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea.


Zafari M, Behmanesh F, Agha Mohammadi A. Comparison of the effect of fish oil and ibuprofen on treatment of severe pain in primary dysmenorrhea. Caspian J Intern Med. 2011 Summer;2(3):279-82.

Primary dysmenorrhea FAQ. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Habibi N, Huang MS, Gan WY, Zulida R, Safavi SM. Prevalence of primary dysmenorrhea and factors associated with its intensity among undergraduate students: A cross-sectional study. Pain Manag Nurs. 2015;16(6):855-61.



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