Flaxseed may help improve your cholesterol levels and lower your risk for heart disease and cancer, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. These little seeds also have the potential to help make your menstrual cycle more regular and limit the side effects that sometimes occur during menstruation, although the evidence for this is still preliminary and conflicting.
Flaxseeds and Menstruation
Regularly eating flaxseeds may help make ovulation more regular. A study published in 1993 in “The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism” found that women who regularly ate flaxseed powder ovulated during every menstrual cycle, but when these women followed their regular low-fiber diet they didn’t ovulate during three out of 36 menstrual cycles. The phase of the menstrual cycle between ovulation and the start of the menstrual period, called the luteal phase, was also longer when the women consumed flaxseed powder. Having a short luteal phase is sometimes associated with infertility.
If you typically have premenstrual symptoms, adding flaxseeds to your diet may help. An article on the Fitness magazine website notes that studies have shown adding a teaspoon or two of flaxseed to your diet each day may help reduce cramping during menstruation. The omega-3 fats provided by flaxseeds may help slow the release of substances called prostaglandins, which are often responsible for cramping during menstruation. A study published in the “American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology” in April 1996 found that taking an omega-3 supplement helped reduce menstrual pain compared to taking a placebo.
Reducing Breast Pain
Adding about 25 grams of flaxseed to your diet each day for three months may also limit the breast pain that women sometimes experience at the beginning of their periods, according to a study cited by MedlinePlus. A review article published in the “Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada” in January 2006 backs up this recommendation, concluding that flaxseeds should be recommended as a treatment for this type of breast pain.
Flaxseeds may interact with birth control medications, blood thinners, and diabetes medications, so check with your doctor before adding them to your diet. People with hormone-sensitive cancers, such as breast or ovarian cancer, should also check with their doctor before using flaxseed because it may change the levels of certain hormones and it may act like estrogen in your body.
- Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: Effect of Flax Seed Ingestion on the Menstrual Cycle
- American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: Supplementation With Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the Management of Dysmenorrhea in Adolescents
- Fitness: Menstrual Cramps
- MedlinePlus: Flaxseed
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Flaxseed
- Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada: Mastalgia
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Menstrual Disturbances in Athletes: A Focus on Luteal Phase Defects
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