Eating Fish 1–3 Times Weekly Can Decrease Menstrual Cramps
Most women in the United States suffer from painful periods. Cramps are common, but they are not normal. Although the pain of menstruation is not fully understood, it is associated with an increase in inflammatory prostaglandins around the start of your period.
In a 2022 Japanese study, 2,060 women filled out questionnaires about their period pain, fish consumption, and other co-factors such as age, weight, BMI, smoking status, alcohol intake, socioeconomic factors and gynecologic health. Women who consumed fish two or three times weekly were 64 percent less likely to have moderate-severe period cramps than women who ate fish less than once a week after controlling for other co-factors.
Women who only ate fish once a week fared almost as well. They were 59 percent less likely to have period pain than women who ate fish less than once a week after controlling for other co-factors. Although not reported, it is likely these women were eating cold water fish, since this is both culturally normative and readily accessible in Japan. Cold water fish (like anchovies, cod, mackerel, halibut, salmon, tuna, and sardines) are higher in omega-3 fatty acids than warm water fish.
Omega-3 fatty acids convert into anti-inflammatory prostaglandins to decrease pain. So to reiterate, the takeaway message is this: eat fish once a week to decrease menstrual cramps by 59 percent or eat fish two to three times a week to decrease them by 64 percent.
Dr. Caroline Peterson is a board-certified chiropractic physician. For more information, visit NaturalWomensHealthInstitute.com.