October 13, 2022
2 min read
Sannoh S. Abstract P-68. Presented at: North American Menopause Society Annual Meeting; Oct. 12-15, 2022; Atlanta.
Sannoh reports no relevant financial disclosures.
Diets high in foods that cause inflammation, such as meat, sugar and coffee, increased the severity of menstrual pain for adolescents and young adults, according to study findings presented at the NAMS Annual Meeting.
According to a press release, 90% of adolescents experience menstrual pain, and many use over-the-counter medication to manage it with limited effectiveness.
“I first started researching the effects of diet on menstrual pain to help remedy the pain I was experiencing,” Serah Sannoh, BS, a recent public health graduate from Rutgers University-New Brunswick in New Jersey, told Healio. “I was curious to see if any lifestyle factors, such as diet, could be a contributor to menstrual pain. This search started as something personal, but I wanted to learn more about the science and existing literature supporting that diet influences menstrual pain.”
Sannoh reviewed multiple databases for studies with keywords such as “diet,” “dysmenorrhea,” “foods,” “menstrual pain” and “period pain,” as well as terms such as “adolescent,” “college” and “university” to identify research investigating the link between diet and menstrual pain among girls and young women.
Analyses revealed that diets high in meat, oil, sugar, salt and coffee were associated with a greater risk for dysmenorrhea.
Additionally, omega-6 fatty acids increased inflammation and omega-3 fatty acids reduced it, studies showed.
“This is important because menstrual cramps are triggered by prostaglandins, which are chemical messengers active in inflammatory responses,” Sannoh said. “Diets high in omega-6 fatty acids and the inflammatory foods mentioned increase the presence of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins in your body. This increased presence of prostaglandins leads to more uterine contractions.”
Sannoh said people experiencing menstrual pain should avoid foods such as red meat and french fries and adopt a more plant-based diet, such as a vegan diet, to ameliorate the pain. Sannoh also emphasized the importance of looking more closely at the link between diet and dysmenorrhea.
“I would like to see more studies on the effects of diet on menstrual pain to evaluate when in the menstrual cycle women should adopt this change for it to be most beneficial,” Sannoh said. “In addition, research on these diet changes in relation to one’s hormonal levels, the long-term benefits of this diet change and whether this diet change could potentially be recommended as a treatment option are research topics I would like to learn more about and possibly conduct in the future.”