Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on intensity of primary dysmenorrhea

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2012 Apr;117(1):45-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2011.11.019. Epub 2012 Jan 17.


Objective: To examine whether dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids relieved symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea.

Methods: Women aged 18-22 years with primary dysmenorrhea were enrolled in a double-blind crossover study. Women assigned to group 1 (n=47) received 1 omega-3 capsule daily for 3 months, followed by placebo for 3 months. Women in group 2 (n=48) received placebo for 3 months, followed by omega-3 for 3 months. A washout period was performed in both groups. Participants used 400mg of ibuprofen as a rescue dose if severe menstrual pains were experienced.

Results: A marked reduction in pain intensity was observed after 3 months of treatment with omega-3 fatty acids (P<0.05). Women who received omega-3 fatty acids required fewer rescue doses than women who received placebo (P<0.05). The mean numbers of ibuprofen tablets used after 3 months with omega-3 fatty acids were 4.3±2.1 (group 1) and 3.2±2.5 (group 2); the mean numbers of tablets used after 3 months of placebo were 5.3±2.2 (group 1) and 6.0±2.6 (group 2) (P=0.001 for both).

Conclusion: Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids reduced the symptom intensity of primary dysmenorrhea. Supplementation efficacy was sufficient to decrease the ibuprofen rescue dose.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Dysmenorrhea / drug therapy*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ibuprofen / therapeutic use
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Ibuprofen