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Vitamin E May Help Treat Menstrual Pain
 

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Vitamin E could help ease the pain of menstrual cramps, recent study findings suggest.

High levels of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins have been implicated in dysmenorrhea, or painful menstruation. Because vitamin E can help block prostaglandin formation, Dr. S. Ziaei of Tarbiat Modarres University in Iran and colleagues decided to test the vitamin as a treatment for dysmenorrhea.

The researchers studied 100 high school students aged 16 to 18 who reported experiencing mild, moderate or severe pain during menstruation. Half of the students took five vitamin E tablets per day for 2 days before and 3 days after they began menstruating, while the other half, the comparison group, took five inactive placebo tablets.

At the 2-month follow-up, individuals in both the vitamin E group and the comparison group reported experiencing less menstrual pain than they did at the start of the study, according to a report in a recent issue of the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Students in the vitamin E group, however, reported slightly less pain than those in the comparison group.

For example, at the start of the study, the median pain score on a scale of 0 to 10 was virtually the same in both groups: 5.5 in the vitamin E group and 5.4 in the comparison group. Two months later, teens in the vitamin E group reported an average pain score of 3.5, while their peers reported a pain score of 4.3.

The difference between the two groups was less than one point, Dr. Roger Smith of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Truman Medical Center, pointed out in an interview with Reuters Health. Smith is not affiliated with Ziaei's research.

``It looks like it (vitamin E) is not doing a lot or there would have been more dramatic change,'' he said.

``If it works, it's fine,'' Smith said. ``At these doses it's probably not dangerous.'' But the vitamin E treatment will probably not replace topical heat, oral contraceptives, or other well-established treatments for menstrual pain, he added.

SOURCE: British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2001;108:1181-1183.


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