Treatment For PMS
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|Can Premenstrual Syndrome Be Treated?
Depending on the severity of symptoms, your doctor may recommend a lifestyle change, home remedies, or prescription medication to treat PMS symptoms like painful periods. As of 2011, no prescription medication has received written approval from the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of PMS. That said, certain drugs are regularly prescribed by doctors to help reduce premenstrual syndrome side effects. However before resorting to medication do consider trying simpler remedies, including lifestyle changes, making improvements to your diet and trying alternative natural medicine.
A recent finding showed that serotonin-inhibiting antidepressants (SSRIs), such as sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac), escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro) and paroxetine (Paxil) can reduce PMS symptoms by 60 percent if begun on day 14 of the menstrual cycle and finished on day 28. SSRIs are particularly effective in dealing with mood swings, depression, anxiety and headaches. Dosages of antidepressants for PMS are lower than prescribed for the treatment of depression. The anti-anxiety drug alprazolam (Xanax), if taken for 8 days before the start of the period, is also believed to be effective.
Another approach uses GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) analogs which induce a temporary reversible menopause. However these drugs are expensive and cannot be used regularly for fear of compromising bone density and causing brittle bones. Other nasty side effects include hair growth, acne and hot flashes.
Combined Oral Contraceptive
The 'Pill' is one of the most popular forms of medication for helping to stabilize hormone swings and regulate a menstrual cycle. One particular pill, Yaz has been shown to be more effective than regular contraceptive pills for reducing the symptoms of both PMS and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Yaz is a combination birth control pill, containing drospirenone & ethinyl estradiol. It may also help treat moderate acne. The older types of pills were surprisingly ineffective for dealing with PMS, in fact many women reported worse side effects.
NSAIDs, or Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are available over the counter and include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Midol IB, Nuprin etc), naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox) or ketoprofen (Orudis KT, Actron) can help ease cramping, period pains and breast soreness. NSAIDs seem to be more effective than aspirin in helping to prevent cramping. You may also find it useful to check out our list of women's health books which has a section on PMS.
Some women, who particularly suffer from water retention during periods, may consider using a diuretic or water pill. These pills help the body shed water through the kidneys. One of the most popular diuretics is Spironolactone (Aldactone). Consider combining a water pill or diuretic with a vitamin B6 supplement for maximum effect.
Never take any prescription medication or herbal remedy if you have missed a period and suspect you could be pregnant. Take a pregnancy test, and if the results are positive, read our prepare for pregnancy article.
• One 100-200mg vitamin B6 supplement per day, taken up to 14 days before a menstrual bleed.
• One 400 international units of vitamin E supplement taken twice a day for up to 14 days before a period can help prevent water retention and cramps. For more tips see how can I relieve period cramps?
•Recent studies show that a 1200 mg chewable calcium carbonate supplement (such as Tums or Rolaids) may help prevent PMS. In particular calcium reduces water retention, mood swings, back pain and cramps. The added benefit is that a calcium supplement will help osteoporosis prevention in the long term. Ideally combine this with a 400 mg magnesium supplement. Alternatively choose a good multi-vitamin which contains the correct dosage of both minerals.
• Herbal remedies used for treating PMS are infusions made from chamomile, hops, motherwort, mugworth, skullcap, spearmint, lemon balm and dandelion.
• Reduce your sodium intake by avoiding table salt, chips, cheeses, salted meat or fish and MSG foods. This will help prevent water retention.
Other Alternative Therapies
Finally, do check out holistic treatments for helping with PMS. Possible options include homeopathic prescriptions, aromatherapy, ayurveda medicine, acupuncture, energy-based therapies and Chinese medicine.
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