Treating Premenstrual Syndrome

July 18, 2010

There are many medications that can be used to treat the symptoms that accompany premenstrual syndrome (PMS). These medications include oral contraceptive pills, pain killers, diuretics, ovarian function suppressants, and antidepressants.

Some Benefit

*Oral contraceptive pills (OCPs)—"the pill" may be prescribed in an effort to smooth out the hormonal fluctuations brought on by abnormal ovarian function. Though early studies never proved that OCP's alleviate the symptoms of PMS, the newest pills on the market seem to contain improved hormone formulations that do seem to provide some benefit.

*Analgesics (pain killers)—pain killers are the first line of defense against period cramps, pelvic pain, and headaches. The analgesics that seem to be among the most effective for this purpose are of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory class (NSAID's). Among the most common NSAID's prescribed for this purpose are: naproxen (Anaprox, Aleve), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and mefenamic acid (Ponstel). 

Premenstrual Bloating

*Diuretics—these medications make you urinate more than usual so you can get rid of the excess fluid that comes with PMS and causes bloating of the body tissues. Popular PMS remedies that can be obtained without a prescription often include diuretics. Such OTC medications include: Midol PMS, Premsyn PMS, Pamprin Multisymptom, Diurex PMS, and Lurline PMS. These remedies contain either pamabrom or caffeine. One prescription diuretic that can be used to treat premenstrual bloating of the face, hands, and feet is called Spironolactone (Aldactone). This medication is not always effective. 

*Ovarian suppressors—medications such as danazol (Danocrine) are sometimes prescribed to suppress the production of the ovarian hormones. But this medication cannot be used for the long term since there are some significant side effects associated with its use. 

Some women with PMS have found relief with gonadotropin releasing hormone analogs (GnRH) which can effect a complete suppression of ovarian function. Physicians will prescribe GnRH analogs for no longer than a six month period, however, because they can lead to osteoporosis (bone thinning and density issues). In some cases, GnRH is given in tandem with hormone supplements.

*Antidepressants—very effective for the mood disturbances that accompany PMS. These medications raise the levels of brain chemicals that are lowered by the ovarian hormones such as serotonin and opioids, for instance. Opioids help regulate emotions and mood. Paroxetine (Paxil) and fluoxetine (Prozac) are typical of the antidepressant medications that are beneficial for treating the mood issues that sometimes attend PMS. 

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