Metabolism of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in women with dysmenorrhea

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008:17 Suppl 1:216-9.


Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) is one of the main complaints in clinics for women. The pain is often accompanied by other symptoms such as headache, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, urinary frequency, and vomiting which often leave the patients incapacitated for work or school for a few days. Dietary supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) has been shown to alleviate the menstrual pain. The purpose of the present study was to compare the effect of dietary supplementation with PUFA (sunflower seed oil, borage oil and fish oil concentrate) for three months on RBC membrane fatty acid composition in healthy and dysmenorrheica young women. Conversion of linoleic acid, via gamma-linolenic acid, to dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (a precursor of anti-inflammatory prostaglandin E1) in dysmenorrheic subjects as compared to the controls was slower whereas the level of arachidonic acid (a precursor of pro-inflammatory PGE2) was not affected by the supplementation. Since there are no known side-effects associated with supplementation of these nutrients, management of dysmenorrhea through nutrition modulation should be an acceptable alternative to drug treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dysmenorrhea / drug therapy*
  • Dysmenorrhea / metabolism
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / chemistry
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / metabolism
  • Fish Oils / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Plant Oils / metabolism
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Treatment Outcome
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid / metabolism
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid / therapeutic use


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fish Oils
  • Plant Oils
  • Sunflower Oil
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid
  • borage oil