Menstrual Cramps and PMS Medication Guide (cont.)

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What medications are used to treat PMS?

Medications used to treat the different symptoms of PMS include:

  • Diuretics are medications that increase urine production, thereby eliminating excess fluid and relieving weight gain, bloating, swelling, and a full feeling. Ammonium chloride, caffeine, and pamabrom are mild diuretics that are ingredients in nonprescription OTC products such as Diurex PMS, Lurline PMS, Midol PMS, Pamprin Multisymptom, and Premesyn PMS. Spironolactone (Aldactone) is a prescription diuretic that has been used to treat premenstrual swelling of the hands, feet, or face.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are commonly used for menstrual cramps, headaches, and pelvic discomfort. NSAIDs are available as both prescription and non-prescription products. Examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox), ketoprofen (Orudis), and mefenamic acid (Ponstel).
  • Oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) are sometimes prescribed by doctors to decrease fluctuations in ovarian hormone levels. While older studies failed to provide evidence that OCPs can consistently provide relief for symptoms of PMS, the newer birth control pills, with their improved hormonal formulations, seem to be more beneficial.
  • Ovarian suppressors such as danazol (Danocrine) have been prescribed by doctors to suppress ovarian hormone production. Danocrine cannot be used over long periods because of side effects.
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogs, which cause the complete suppression of ovarian function, have been found to help some women with PMS. These GnRH analogs are not prescribed long term (more than 6 months) because of their adverse effects on bone density and an increased risk of bone thinning (osteoporosis).
  • Antidepressants are prescribed by doctors to treat the mood disturbances related to PMS. Antidepressants appear to work by increasing brain chemical (serotonin and others) levels that are affected by the ovarian hormones.
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Paxil) are examples of antidepressant medications that have been found to be effective in treating the mood changes associated with PMS.

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Menstrual Cramps and PMS - Symptoms Question: Describe your symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Menstrual Cramps and PMS - Treatments Question: What kinds of treatment, including lifestyle changes, have helped you deal with PMS?
Menstrual Cramps and PMS - Experiences Question: At what age did you start to get cramps? Describe your history and experience with menstrual cramps.
Menstrual Cramps and PMS - Medication Question: What medications have you tried for menstrual cramps? What works, and what doesn't?

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