Over 50% of all menstruating women in every age category experience Dysmenorrheal, the medical term for menstrual cramps. Derived from Greek, dysmenorrheal literally means “difficult monthly flow” and usually refers to the pain women experience either just before or during the first few days of their menstrual period. The pain may be in the lower back, pelvic region or may extend up and down the thighs. Sometimes symptoms like vomiting, nausea, headache, fatigue, among other things may accompany a women’s menstrual cycle. For some the symptoms of Dysmenorrheal may be so extreme that they are unable to work or go to school disrupting their everyday life. It is believed that 10% of the women who experience menstrual pain are laid up for 1 to 3 days every month.
Primary dysmenorrheal (classified as primary when the problem is physiological) begins after inflammatory prostaglandins from the endometrial cells are released inside the uterus. Typical treatment for this condition is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) or contraceptives that focus on suppressing prostaglandin release.
Vitamin D, known for its role in bone health and immune function may also reduce the release of cyclooxygenase-2, an inflammatory compound, which would then regulate prostaglandin production and reduce inflammation in the body and the endometrium.
60 women with primary dysmenorrheal and a Vitamin D deficiency participated in this study. Participants were required to have had 4 painful menstrual cycles in a row within the past six months. In addition their Vitamin D levels needed to be below 50 ng/ml. The participants received either a 50,000 IU oral dose of Vitamin D per week or a placebo. The study lasted 8 weeks.
In the group receiving the Vitamin D supplement before the study began 13% of the women experienced mild pain, 69.6% experienced moderate pain and 17.4% experienced severe pain. At the end of the study 95.7% of the women who supplemented with the Vitamin D experienced mild pain and 4.3% experienced moderate pain. No one had severe pain. There was a significant difference in pain intensity between the group receiving the placebo and the group receiving the Vitamin D supplementation protocol.
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