Can Vitamin E Supplements Help With Period Cramps?

vitamin E and cramps
Photo Illustration by Zack Angeline for Verywell Health; Getty Images.

Key Takeaways

  • Vitamin E may be a complementary treatment for primary dysmenorrhea but studies are limited.
  • Vitamin E shouldn’t be used in combination with blood thinners, anti-coagulants, or chemotherapy treatments as it can interfere with these medications.
  • Research on women’s healthcare is lacking in general, especially on supplements and alternative medicines.

More than half of all people who menstruate experience cramps a few days each month. Birth control and painkillers such as ibuprofen are considered first-line treatments for menstrual cramps, but new research suggests that vitamin E supplements might also help.

A recent review examined eight clinical trials on vitamin E and menstrual cramping caused by the release of prostaglandins, a group of pain-inducing chemical compounds. Researchers found that vitamin E may reduce period pain, especially after two months of taking it.

According to the review, it’s not well understood how vitamin E reduces cramps, but it may be related to the vitamin’s anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin E also inhibits arachidonic acid, which otherwise would turn into pain-inducing prostaglandins.

While there is some emerging evidence supporting vitamin E’s role in period pain management, most of the clinical trials so far have been conducted outside the United States with relatively small sample sizes.

“For vitamin E, we have smaller trials with less subjects, largely conducted in a population of women living in a certain geographic area, for example, Iran. It’s unclear if we can generalize clinical response from this population to the greater population,” Cathi Dennehy, PharmD, a clinical professor in the School of Pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco, told Verywell.

Vitamin E Alone Likely Won’t Relieve Cramps

The review concluded that vitamin E could be used alongside other treatments for women with menstrual cramps.

Some research has also evaluated the effectiveness of a mix of vitamin E and other supplements to manage period pain. A 2018 randomized controlled trial found that a combination of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acid supplements was more effective in managing period pain when compared to using either supplement alone. A study from 2021 found that a combination of vitamin E and vitamin C helped reduce menstrual cramp symptoms and pelvic pain.

However, you should consult with a healthcare provider before taking vitamin E supplements along with other medications. If taken with blood thinning medications, vitamin E may increase the risk of bleeding, according to Dennehy. She added that vitamin E supplements may also reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy agents.

Supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so look for third-party verification from groups like USP or NSF to ensure that the products are of high quality.

“Consumers should always monitor for dietary supplement side effects when starting a new product,” Dennehy said. “Stop usage if the product causes symptoms of a rash, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, altered mental status, chest pain or other concerning side effects.”

Researchers Are Testing a Variety of Treatments for Menstrual Cramps

Vitamin E is just one alternative treatment that has been studied for managing period pain. Researchers have looked into a wide range of potential treatments, including vitamin D, acupuncture, castor oil packs, and cramp bark tea.

“There are many patients who will not take medication for painful periods,” said Susan S. Khalil, MD, an OB-GYN at Mount Sinai, New York.

However, Khalil said that studies are lacking on the potential role of supplements, non-medical, and non-hormonal agents in women’s health care.

“I would love to see this studied with good national support from organizations that really can impact the research infrastructure for women’s health, for pelvic pain, for dysmenorrhea for young women and children, and even across the lifespan with how that pain changes,” she said.

Until more studies are conducted, Khalil said it’s important for people experiencing painful periods to speak with a healthcare provider to see if they can get a diagnosis for primary dysmenorrhea.

“Come in for evaluation even if it’s something that you take for granted as a normal part of life,” she said.

What This Means For You

Vitamin E may help reduce menstrual cramps, but there isn’t enough evidence to say that it’s more effective than other first-line treatment options. Since vitamin E supplements can interfere with certain medications, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider before taking them.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dysmenorrhea: painful periods.

  2. Mount Sinai. Menstrual pain.

  3. Alikamali M, Mohammad-Alizadeh-Charandabi S, Maghalian M, Mirghafourvand M. The effects of vitamin E on the intensity of primary dysmenorrhea: a systematic review and meta-analysisClin Nutr ESPEN. 2022;52:50-59. doi:10.1016/j.clnesp.2022.10.001

  4. Sadeghi N, Paknezhad F, Rashidi Nooshabadi M, Kavianpour M, Jafari Rad S, Khadem Haghighian H. Vitamin E and fish oil, separately or in combination, on treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a double-blind, randomized clinical trial. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2018;34(9):804-808. doi:10.1080/09513590.2018.1450377

  5. Pakniat H, Chegini V, Ranjkesh F, Hosseini MA. Comparison of the effect of vitamin E, vitamin D and ginger on the severity of primary dysmenorrhea: a single-blind clinical trialObstet Gynecol Sci. 2019;62(6):462. doi:10.5468/ogs.2019.62.6.462

  6. Amini L, Chekini R, Nateghi MR, et al. The effect of combined vitamin C and vitamin E supplementation on oxidative stress markers in women with endometriosis: a randomized, triple-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Pain Res Manag. 2021;2021:5529741. doi:10.1155/2021/5529741