If women were fed soy-based formula milk when they were babies, they are at increased risk of suffering from severe pain during their menstrual bleeds, according to the latest study to investigate the link.

In a study published today (Friday) in Human Reproduction, one of the world’s leading reproductive medicine journals, researchers looked at data from 1,553 women aged between 23 and 35 who were enrolled in the Study of Environment, Lifestyle & Fibroids in the USA between 2010 and 2012. A total of 198 (13%) reported ever being fed soy formula milk.

They found that women who had ever been fed soy formula as babies were 40% more likely to have used hormonal contraception at some point to alleviate menstrual pain compared to women who had not been fed soy formula as babies; between the ages of 18 and 22 years they were 50% more likely to have experienced moderate or severe menstrual discomfort or pain with most of their periods.

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