Fish oil is more effective than ibuprofen in treating severe pain in primary dysmenorrhoea
The general incidence of dysmenorrhoea is between 40% and up to 95% (including 8% of pregnant women experience it during pregnancy). Although in most cases the contractions are not severe, in 10% they have a negative impact on activities for daily living. Dysmenorrhoea is treated with: aspirin, paracetamol, ibuprofen, naproxene and mefenamic acid; oral contraceptives and cervix dilation in severe cases; intrauterine devices; exercise; applying heat to the abdomen and back; electrical stimuli to nerves in the waist, abdomen and back; and use of various nutritional supplements (calcium, magnesium and vitamins E, B1 and C).
Ibuprofen (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)), which is more effective and has fewer secondary effects than other drugs, reduces production of arachidonic acid-derived prostaglandins and thromboxanes. Given that the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish oil also reduce prostaglandin synthesis, a team of investigators decided to compare the results of treatment with ibuprofen with those from treatment with fish oil in primary dysmenorrhoea.
The study showed a significant difference in the intensity of menstrual pain before and after receiving fish oil (results that corroborate previous studies), as well as before and after receiving ibuprofen. However, the effect of fish oil on intensity of pain was higher than for ibuprofen. These results support the use of fish oil in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhoea, also bearing in mind that it has fewer secondary effects than NSAIDs.