Can vitamin E help to manage period cramps?

Many women experience period pain every month. So, should you take vitamin E to get rid of period cramps?

Period cramps are felt by many women before or during menstruation. Also known as dysmenorrhea, it refers to the intense pain felt in the lower abdomen. It may even radiate to the lower back or thighs. What makes it worse is that the pain may be accompanied by other symptoms such as bloating, headaches, nausea, and diarrhea. Women often use heat or pop pills to reduce period pain. It has been found that vitamin E supplement may also help to get rid of menstrual cramps. Read on to know if vitamin E can reduce period pain.

What are period cramps?

Period cramps are the bodyโ€™s response to the uterus contracting to shed its lining when a woman is down, says senior gynaecologist, obstetrician and robotic surgeon Dr Aruna Kalra. These menstrual cramps can range from mild discomfort to intense pain, caused by hormonal changes and the release of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances responsible for uterine contractions during period.

Period cramps are a natural part of the menstrual cycle. Image courtesy: Freepik

Period cramps, medically known as dysmenorrhea, are primarily caused by the contraction of the uterus as it sheds its lining during menstruation. These contractions are triggered by the release of prostaglandins, which promote inflammation and pain. Also, imbalances in other hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, can exacerbate cramping. Period cramps are a natural part of the menstrual cycle, but their severity and duration can be managed with various treatments and lifestyle changes, says the expert.

How do vitamin E supplements help with period cramps?

During a 2022 analysis, published in the Clinical Nutrition ESPEN journal,
researchers found that vitamin E supplement may reduce period pain, especially after taking it for two months.

Vitamin E supplements may help alleviate period cramps by reducing inflammation and promoting muscle relaxation in the uterus, says Dr Kalra. Also, vitamin E can potentially regulate hormone levels, contributing to more balanced menstrual cycles and potentially reducing the severity of cramps.

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What are the side effects of having vitamin E supplement for period cramps?

It is generally advised not to exceed 1,000 milligrams of vitamin E per day to avoid potential side effects, says the expert. Here are some potential side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping.

In some cases, excessive vitamin E intake may lead to blurred vision, headaches, or an increased risk of bleeding. It is essential to consult a doctor before starting any supplement regimen, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

VitaminE supplement on a spoon
Donโ€™t mix vitamin E supplement with your medications. Image courtesy: Freepik

What medications should not be mixed with vitamin E supplement?

You should not mix vitamin E supplement with the following medicines:

  • Mixing vitamin E with anticoagulant medications like warfarin (Coumadin), heparin, or antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding due to potential additive effects on blood thinning.
  • Vitamin E supplement might interfere with the effectiveness of certain chemotherapy medications.
  • Statin medications are taken by people to lower cholesterol levels. But mixing it with vitamin E supplement might reduce their effectiveness.
  • Vitamin E supplement might potentially interact with immunosuppressive drugs like cyclosporine or tacrolimus altering their effectiveness.
  • Vitamin E supplements might interfere with the effectiveness of hormonal medications like birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy.

Can foods rich in vitamin E help to get rid of period cramps?

Foods rich in vitamin E, such as nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and fortified cereals, can contribute to overall health and may potentially help alleviate period cramps due to their anti-inflammatory properties, says Dr Kalra. However, relying solely on dietary sources of vitamin E may not provide enough to significantly impact cramping.

What are the other ways to get rid of period cramps?

You can do the following to get rid of period cramps:

  • Apply a heating pad or take a warm bath to help relax uterine muscles and reduce cramping.
  • Gentle physical activity, such as walking or yoga, can help release endorphins, which act as natural pain relievers.
  • Consume foods rich in calcium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid caffeine and alcohol to help minimise discomfort.
  • Practices like mindfulness, deep breathing, or meditation can help manage stress, which may exacerbate period cramps.
  • Some herbs like ginger, cinnamon, or chamomile may have anti-inflammatory properties and can be consumed as teas or supplements.

You can have vitamin E supplement with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle for more comprehensive relief from period cramps, but donโ€™t just rely on it.

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