Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Vitamin D May Ease Painful Periods

Women Given Large Oral Dose Able to Skip Painkillers, but Approach Needs More Study
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 28, 2012 -- A single large dose of vitamin D may help women with painful periods feel more comfortable and skip painkillers, Italian researchers report.

Antonino Lasco, MD, of the University of Messina, and his team compared the use of the vitamin D dose with placebo pills. They studied 40 women, ages 18 to 40. All had painful menstrual periods, known as dysmenorrhea. It affects nearly half of women who menstruate.

Besides pain, there can be nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sleep problems.

"We observed a significant reduction of pain in the vitamin D group compared with the placebo group over the two-month duration of our study," writes Lasco. The study is published in the Archives of InternalMedicine.

The dose used was very high: 300,000 international units (IU). A dose of 4,000 IU a day is termed the ''upper tolerable'' by the U.S. Institute of Medicine. That would be about 240,000 IU over two months.

Women shouldn't try this approach on their own, warns Tarek Bardawil, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He reviewed the findings for WebMD. "The number of patients studied is very few," he says. "The dose is very high. Before we jump to conclusions, we need further studies."

Vitamin D for Painful Periods: Study Details

Excess production of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins can trigger painful periods. Vitamin D is known to reduce their production.

Lasco's team randomly assigned the 40 women to get either vitamin D or placebo pills. The women took them five days before the expected start of their cycle.

For two months, the women tracked their menstrual pain. They told whether they took any off-the-shelf painkillers, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Those on vitamin D not only reported less pain, none said they took any NSAID painkillers during the two months.

Forty percent of the women on placebo said they took an NSAID painkiller at least once.

The NSAID painkillers are typically prescribed for painful periods. However, long-term use can carry risks such as gastrointestinal problems.

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
Is it menopause or something else?
woman in bathtub
bp app on smartwatch and phone
estrogen gene

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
hot water bottle on stomach
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror