5 Foods That Help With Menstrual Pain

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Over half of menstruating women experience some degree of pain for at least one or two days every cycle. For some, it’s merely mild discomfort. For others, the menstrual pain is severe, preventing them from taking part in everyday activities. For both groups, finding ways to alleviate the pain is often a priority. One option involves making diet adjustments, as there are foods that may help with menstrual pain.

Generally, beneficial foods are anti-inflammatory and are typically part of a broader healthy diet. Research has shown that diet and nutritional factors have a direct influence on menstrual pain. Patients who eat more fruits, vegetables, fish, and dairy have been shown to have less menstrual pain. On the other hand, patients who did meal skipping and weight-loss dieting had worse menstrual pain. Here’s a look at five foods that may potentially help with menstrual pain.


Bananas are high-fiber foods and also provide a variety of nutrients. Fiber can assist with bowel movements, which may reduce feelings of being bloated. Plus, they contain magnesium, which may help limit period pain. Bananas and other fruits are not only part of a healthy diet, but they may also help you with your menstrual pain. Try adding bananas to your diet to see if they help. You can eat bananas plain or try blending them into a smoothie.


Broccoli is high in fiber, iron-rich, and full of vitamins and minerals. Broccoli and other vegetables are part of a healthy diet, and they may also help with menstrual pain. You can try increasing your broccoli intake to see if it lessens your period pain. Broccoli can be steamed or roasted and served as a side dish at dinner.


Generally speaking, kale is rich in critical nutrients – like calcium and magnesium – and it also contains a lot of fiber and water, which can promote regularity and reduce bloating. Kale and other vegetables may help reduce your menstrual pain and are part of a healthy diet. Kale can be steamed and served with dinner or blended into a smoothie. 


Fatty fish like salmon are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are generally considered anti-inflammatory. Salmon and other fish are part of a healthy diet and can potentially help reduce your menstrual pain too. You can try to eat more salmon and fish, to see if it helps reduce your pain. There are many ways to prepare salmon, such as baking and grilling it. Aim for getting fish in your diet at least once a week to maximize its health benefits. 


Milk and other dairy products have healthy vitamins like vitamin D, phosphorus, and calcium. Milk is also a good source of protein. Getting enough milk and dairy in your diet is important for maintaining a healthy diet, plus it can help with menstrual pain. Try increasing your milk intake to see if that helps. You can drink milk plain, add milk to your cereal or coffee, or eat yogurt. 

Next Steps

Menstrual pain can be difficult to deal with. If you’re experiencing menstrual pain and it doesn’t get better with treatments you try at home, such as diet changes, you should speak with your doctor. There are options to help you. Sometimes there is a medical cause for very severe menstrual pain, and your doctor can help you get the right testing. If you’re curious to know more about improving your diet for your overall health or for helping your menstrual pain, ask your doctor for a referral to a registered dietician.

Medical content reviewed by Brittany Stopa, MPH.

Further Reading:

  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Dysmenorrhea: Painful Periods.” Last reviewed Jan 2022. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/dysmenorrhea-painful-periods 
  2. Nagy H, Khan MAB. Dysmenorrhea. [Updated 2022 Jul 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560834/ 
  3. Bajalan Z, Alimoradi Z, Moafi F. Nutrition as a Potential Factor of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review of Observational Studies. Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2019;84(3):209-224. doi:10.1159/000495408