Quick Dose: Can Ibuprofen Reduce Menstrual Flow?

Ibuprofen may be your best friend for dealing with cramps, but did you know it can help reduce your menstrual flow, too?

“Results are unique to each woman, but I’d say, on average, a woman may experience 30 percent less bleeding if she takes 800 mg of ibuprofen (four over-the-counter pills) three times a day, ideally starting right before or when her period starts,” says Northwestern Medicine OB/GYN Heather Beall, MD.

Why? When you’re menstruating, your body produces the hormone prostaglandin, which causes the contractions in the uterus (you probably know these as cramps). The contractions help your body to shed the lining of your uterus. Ibuprofen slows down prostaglandin production. Less prostaglandin means less uterine shedding, leading to fewer cramps and less bleeding.

If you take ibuprofen, here are some tips to remember:

  • Too much ibuprofen can cause gastrointestinal distress and other side effects.
  • You should always take ibuprofen with food.

Dr. Beall points out that birth control methods can also help with unwanted period symptoms, so if reducing your menstrual flow is your goal, talk to your physician to find the best approach for you.