If you’re one of the 80% of women that experience period pain on the regular, magnesium may be of benefit to you. Common period pain can also be referred to as primary dysmenorrhoea. Pain can typically last 12 to 72 hours around the first day of your cycle; and you might have other symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and even diarrhoea. There is another type of dysmenorrhoea that is usually caused by another condition; pain from secondary dysmenorrhea usually begins earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than common menstrual cramps. 

During your menstrual period, your uterus contracts to help expel its lining. Hormone-like substances, called prostaglandins, involved in pain and inflammation trigger the uterine muscle contractions. Higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more painful menstrual cramps. If you have a condition like endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis, or excess inflammation, you likely have higher levels of prostaglandins [1]. This can make your period cramps feel much worse. How can magnesium be helpful here? Magnesium works by relaxing the smooth muscles of your uterus and reducing levels of prostaglandins. It is also useful for premenstrual migraines or headaches [2]. 

A study by Fathizadeh, et al. [3] concluded that a combination of B6 and Magnesium significantly decreased PMS over two months. Since dysmenorrhoea can be part of PMS, let’s look at this more closely. Parazzini, et al. [4] read a lot of research papers and found extensive evidence that magnesium supplementation can prevent dysmenorrhoea, PMS, and menstrual migraines. Another review of evidence by Boyle and Dye [5] suggests we need more randomised trials, since the inclusion of women in medical studies is (in the grand scheme) fairly new, evidence is still building. They do report, however, that the evidence they found suggested magnesium is also effective in reducing premenstrual anxiety, another PMS symptom. A very recent research paper from Shin, Na and Do [6] was looking into magnesium for pain management. As magnesium’s main mode of action of magnesium involves its antagonist (inhibitory) action at the NMDA receptor where we perceive pain, this can enable us to feel less pain [6]. For dysmenorrhea, most people use ibuprofen or paracetamol to help reduce the inflammation and lessen the pain, but magnesium can provide just as effective of a result without putting pressure on the liver and stomach (like ibuprofen and paracetamol do). They didn’t discover a superior dose, as this is person dependent, however they did note that most people with dysmenorrhea had lower magnesium levels than normal. Why is this important? This means using magnesium is working both to lessen the pain of dysmenorrhoea, and to build up reserves to prevent future pain. Topical magnesium is a great option here, as it can be used directly on the inflamed area (i.e. your uterus/stomach), and you can’t overdo it! You may also prefer a warm magnesium salt bath. This has the added benefits of heat to help reduce the cramping.

We have all experienced cramping with our periods, but hopefully this is useful in helping you understand your body and how to help yourself. 




[3] PMID: 22069417 

[4] PMID: 28392498



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