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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 are some guidelines for the safe use of OTC products for menstrual cramps and PMS?
- Always read the labels and know the ingredients in the products. Never take more than the recommended doses without first checking with your doctor.
- Aspirin and NSAIDs can cause ulcers and should be avoided by patients with known peptic ulcer disease or reflux esophagitis. They can also increase the risk of bleeding and should be avoided by women with certain blood diseases. Women who are scheduled for elective surgery should inform their doctors that they are taking aspirin or NSAIDs. The doctor may ask them to withhold these medications for a period of time prior to the procedure.
- True aspirin allergy is rare. However, it may lead to hives, difficulty breathing, and/or shock within three hours of ingestion. Aspirin allergy is most common among individuals who have asthma, hives, or nasal polyps. Individuals with true aspirin allergy should also avoid NSAIDs because they are chemically similar to aspirin.
- Aspirin (and many other medications and some vitamins) can increase the anti-coagulant effect of the blood-thinning medication warfarin (Coumadin) resulting in an increased risk of bleeding. Patients taking warfarin to prevent strokes and other throbocytic diseases should not use prescription or OTC medications for menstrual cramps or PMS without first checking with the doctor supervising their warfarin dosages.
- Most healthy adults tolerate aspirin and NSAIDs well, but some may develop side effects such as headaches, dizziness, upset stomach, heartburn, poor appetite, constipation, or diarrhea. Taking these drugs with food can decrease the stomach upset and heartburn.
- Ammonium chloride, an OTC diuretic, is an acid that can cause stomach upset in high doses. It can also cause an excess accumulation of acid (acidosis) in the blood of patients with kidney and liver disease.
- Caffeine is a diuretic and a stimulant. It can cause restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia. Nervousness, irritability, and nausea can occur if caffeine-containing foods and beverages are consumed concurrently. Women taking certain asthma medications such as aminophylline or theophylline (Respbid, Slo-Bid, Theo-24, Theoair) should also avoid caffeine.
Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology