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Dysmenorrhea

Uses

Related Terms

  • Menstrual Cramps
Dysmenorrhea is the term for painful periods. It can cause pain in the pelvis, belly, back, or legs. Cramps, headache, and fatigue may also happen. It can get in the way of daily tasks.
It can be managed with medicine and healthy habits. Natural therapies have also been used to ease cramping and pain. They should not be used in place of standard care.

Natural Therapies

Likely Effective

These herbs and supplements are likely to ease symptoms:
Other therapies that are likely to help are:
  • Acupuncture is likely to ease symptoms and prevent cramps. A1-A6
  • Massage is likely to ease pain when used with aromatherapy. E1
  • Moxibustion burns dried mugwort on the body. It is likely to ease pain. F1

May Be Effective

These herbs and supplements may help ease pain:
  • Boron is an essential mineral found in natural substances and food. C6
  • Lavender is a purple flower that can be used for aromatherapy. C2
  • Valerian is a root that can be taken as a supplement or made into a tea. (Note: Valerian should not be taken by people taking medicine for diarrhea, pain, anxiety, and sleep problems.) C1
  • Vitamin B 1 is used by the body to help create energy. C3
  • Yarrow is a plant with white and yellow flowers. (Note: Yarrow should not be taken by people taking blood thinners.) C5
These therapies may also be effective:
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some may get in the way of treatment. They can also make illness worse or cause new problems. Examples include:
  • Valerian is not safe to take with medicine for diarrhea, pain, anxiety, and sleep problems.
  • Yarrow should not be taken with blood thinners.

References

A
Acupuncture
A1
Chung YC, Chen HH, et al. Acupoint stimulation intervention for people with primary dysmenorrhea: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Complement Ther Med. 2012 Oct;20(5):353-363.
A2
Xu T, Hui L, et al. Effects of moxibustion or acupoint therapy for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a meta-analysis. Altern Ther Health Med. 2014 Jul-Aug;20(4):33-42.
A3
Smith CA, Armour M, et al. Acupuncture for dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Apr 18;4:CD007854.
A4
Xu Y, Zhao W, et al. Effects of acupoint-stimulation for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhoea compared with NSAIDs: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 19 RCTs. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Aug 31;17(1):436.
A5
Woo HL, Ji JR, et al. The efficacy and safety of acupuncture in women with primary dysmenorrhea: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018;97(23):e11007.
A6
Luo F, Huang X, et al. Comparative efficacy and safety of NSAIDs-controlled acupuncture in the treatment of patients with primary dysmenorrhea: a Bayesian network meta-analysis. J Int Med Res. 2019;47(1):19-30.
B
Aromatherapy
B1
Song JA, Lee MK, et al. Effects of aromatherapy on dysmenorrhea: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Nurs Stud. 2018 Aug;84:1-11.
C
Herbs and Supplements
C1
Mirabi P, Dolatian M, et al. Effects of valerian on the severity and systemic manifestations of dysmenorrhea. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2011;115(3):285-288.
C2
Raisi Dehkordi Z, Hosseini Baharanchi FS, et al. Effect of lavender inhalation on the symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea and the amount of menstrual bleeding: A randomized clinical trial. Complement Ther Med. 2014;22(2):212-219.
C3
Hosseinlou A, Alinejad V, et al. Th effects of fish oil capsules and vitamin B1 tablets on duration and severity of dysmenorrhea in students of high school Urmia-Iran. Glob J Health Sci. 2014;6(7):124-129.
C4
Daily JW, Zhang X, et al. Efficacy of Ginger for Alleviating the Symptoms of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Pain Med. 2015;16(12):2243-2255.
C5
Jenabi E, Fereidoony B. Effect of Achillea Millefolium on Relief of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Double-Blind Randomized Clinical Trial. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2015;28(5):402-404.
C6
Nikkah S, Dolatian M, et al. Effects of boron supplementation in the severity and duration of pain in primary dysmenorrhea. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2015;21(2):79-83.
C7
Lee HW, Jun JH, et al. Herbal medicine (Danggui Shaoyao San) for treating primary dysmenorrhea: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Maturitas. 2016;85:19-26.
C8
Gao L, Jia C, et al. Wenjing decoction (herbal medicine) for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2017 Oct;296(4):679-689.
C9
Leem J, Jo J, et al. Herbal medicine (Hyeolbuchukeo-tang or Xuefu Zhuyu decoction) for treating primary dysmenorrhea: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019;98(5):e14170.
D
Manipulative Therapy
D1
Abaraogu UO, Igwe SE, et al. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Efficacy of Manipulative Therapy in Women with Primary Dysmenorrhea. Explore (NY). 2017 Nov - Dec;13(6):386-392.
E
Massage
E1
Sut N, Kahyaoglu-Sut H. Effect of aromatherapy massage on pain in primary dysmenorrhea: A meta-analysis. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2017;27:5-10.
F
Moxibustion
F1
Xu T, Hui L, et al. Effects of moxibustion or acupoint therapy for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a meta-analysis. Altern Ther Health Med. 2014 Jul-Aug;20(4):33-42.
G
Yoga
G1
Oates J. The Effect of Yoga on Menstrual Disorders: A Systematic Review. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Jun;23(6):407-417.
G2
McGovern CE, Cheung C. Yoga and Quality of Life in Women with Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2018 Jul;63(4):470-482.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
  • Review Date: 02/2020
  • Update Date: 05/26/2020
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