Primary dysmenorrhea ( painful menstruation with abdominal cramps) is defined as cramping pain in the lower abdomen occurring just before or during menstruation, in the absence of other gynaecology diseases such as endometriosis. Prevalence rates are as high as 90 percent. Primary Dysmenorrhea is one of the most common gynaecologic complaints.
According to a research study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a randomized controlled trial was conducted wherein it was found that women suffering from dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps) who were supplemented with an appropriate dose of vitamin D underwent much less ache and discomfort as compared to the women who received a placebo.
Another research was conducted by the research scientists from University of Messina, in Italy went on to recruit 40 women aged between 18-40 who were suffering from dysmenorrhea. The researchers randomly allotted 20 women to receive one dose of 300,000 IU of vitamin D3 five days before the beginning of their next menstrual cycle, and assigned rest other 20 women to receive a placebo.
The results were observed over the period of over two month’s duration. The researchers found that women in the vitamin D group reported significantly less pain when compared to the placebo group.
About 40% of women in the placebo group used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), the accepted drug for the management of dysmenorrhea, at least once during the duration of the study, while women in the vitamin D group did not use NSAIDs.
Dr Lasco concluded, “Our data supports the use of cholecalciferol (Vitamin D) in these patients, and allow these women to limit the use of NSAIDs.”
Another study reported by Medpage Today stated that women with a history of severe menstrual cramps exhibited suggestively less pain and discomfort on consuming specific amounts of vitamin D five days before their next expected period, according to results of a small randomized trial.
Out of 20 women in the trial study taking vitamin D, 15 reported pain scores at least two points lower than their average over a four-cycle baseline period, on a standard 10-point visual analog scale, as reported by Antonino Lasco, MD, of the University of Messina in Italy, and colleagues.
Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson, ScD, of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, suggested larger and longer trials not only to confirm the benefit of high-dose vitamin D, but also to determine how long it may last — and, thus, how frequently the doses would have to be given.
According to WebMD, a single large dose of vitamin D may help women with painful periods feel more comfortable and skip painkillers, Italian researchers have reported.
At least half of reproductive-age women suffer from painful menstrual cramps that begin shortly before the start of menstrual flow and continue for several days.
For some, the discomfort is a mild annoyance, but for others it can be so severe that it hampers the daily activities.
Severe menstrual cramps are actually among the most common reasons for missed work and school days among young women.
For treatment, many women rely on over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen for pain relief, and conventional physicians may even prescribe birth control pills, which prevent ovulation and reduce the severity of cramps.
Both of these “solutions” carry significant risks of side effects while doing nothing to treat the underlying reasons why menstrual cramps occur.
Now researchers have uncovered another option that might ease menstrual cramp pain naturally via the “sunshine vitamin,” or vitamin D.
When such condition arises, vitamin D might prove to be helpful. It might relieve menstrual cramp pain. During menstruation, the uterus contracts to expel its lining, a process that’s triggered by hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are associated with both pain and inflammation. Higher levels of these substances are linked to more severe menstrual cramps as they cause severe pain.
Vitamin D not only helps to decrease the production of prostaglandins, it also helps decrease the production of cytokines, which promote inflammation in your body.
Researchers have revealed recently that women with relatively lower vitamin D levels (less than 45 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) who took appropriate amounts of vitamin D had a significant reduction in menstrual cramp pains. Two months after taking the vitamin D, the women rated their pain more than 2 points lower on a scale of 1-10, and all had stopped using painkillers. On the other hand, those who had taken a placebo reported no reduction in pain, and 40 percent were still taking pain medications.
Although, there have been impressive results, consumption of Vitamin D doses should b done under an expert supervision of doctors. The ideal way to optimize your vitamin D levels is through safe sun exposure, as this carries virtually no risk of overdosing on vitamin D.