Supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the management of dysmenorrhea in adolescents

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1996 Apr;174(4):1335-8. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(96)70681-6.


Objectives: The purpose of the study was to examine whether dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can relieve symptoms of dysmenorrhea in adolescents.

Study design: Forty-two adolescents with dysmenorrhea were randomly allocated to two groups. In the first group 21 girls received fish oil (1080 mg icosapentaenoic acid, 720 mg docosahexaenoic acid, and 1.5 mg vitamin E) daily for 2 months followed by a placebo for an additional 2 months. In the second group 21 girls received placebo for the first 2 months, followed by fish oil for 2 more months. The Cox Menstrual Symptom Scale was used to assess response to treatment.

Results: There were no significant differences in the Cox Menstrual Symptom Scale between the two groups at baseline after 2 months of placebo administration. After 2 months of treatment with fish oil there was a marked reduction in the Cox Menstrual Symptom Scale from a baseline mean value of 69.9 to 44.0 (p < 0.0004).

Conclusions: This study suggests that dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids has a beneficial effect on symptoms of dysmenorrhea in adolescents.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / adverse effects
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / therapeutic use*
  • Dysmenorrhea / diet therapy*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / adverse effects
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / adverse effects
  • Fish Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Patient Satisfaction


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils