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- Menstrual cramps and PMS medication facts
- What are menstrual cramps?
- What is the treatment for common menstrual cramps (primary dysmenorrhea)?
- What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?
- What treatments are available for PMS?
- What medications are used to treat PMS?
- What are some guidelines for the safe use of OTC products for menstrual cramps and PMS?
Quick GuidePremenstrual Syndrome: A Visual Guide to PMS Symptoms, Causes and Treatments
What medications are used to treat PMS?
Medications used to treat the different symptoms of PMS include taking:
- Diuretics, which are medications that increase urine production, thereby eliminating excess fluid and relieving weight gain, bloating, and swelling. 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, and/or face.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) that 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) that 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 low-dose 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, and have been found to be helpful in treating 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 which 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). These are examples of antidepressant medications that have been found to be effective in treating the mood changes associated with PMS.