Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Best pain relievers for cramps

January 20th, 2010 by Elizabeth Kissling

A new meta-analysis of previous research on acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol outside the U.S.) vs. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for treatment of menstrual pain indicates that NSAIDs are more effective. NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium, which are all readily available over-the-counter in the U.S. The research pooled results from 73 randomized controlled trials comparing the effectiveness and safety of NSAIDs vs. placebo, vs. acetaminophen, and each other.

The results don’t indicate whether one NSAID is any better than any other for menstrual pain. Researcher Jane Marjoribanks, M.D., Cochrane Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group in Auckland, New Zealand, says they work by reducing prostaglandins, the substance manufactured by the uterine lining to help the uterus contract and expel menstrual fluid.

“Research has shown that women with dysmenorrhoea have high levels of prostaglandins, hormones known to cause cramping abdominal pain. …NSAIDs are drugs which act by blocking prostaglandin production.”

The study was published today in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

3 responses to “Best pain relievers for cramps”

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  2. Tori says:

    Hah. I’m wondering when someone will do a study for what happens when OTC products and/or prescription NSAIDs don’t work. 😛

  3. Happenschance says:

    I’ve done some reading about magnesium recently and learned that it helps the body relax muscles. For instance when your hand is in a fist, magnesium helps you to unclench the hand. It is also recommended to help relax menstrual cramps. I believe most women should be taking a minimum of 350 mg.

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