September 14, 2005

Oral contraceptive helps with severe PMS

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new low-dose oral
contraceptive pill reduces symptoms of premenstrual syndrome,
including a severe form called premenstrual dysphoric disorder,
US researchers report.

"Oral contraceptives are commonly used for premenstrual
conditions, usually milder syndromes, but the empirical
evidence supporting their use has been lacking," Dr. Kimberley
A. Yonkers of Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven,
Connecticut, told Reuters Health. "This is the first study to
show that an oral contraceptive is better than placebo for any
premenstrual syndrome, including premenstrual dysphoric

The agent contains "a low dose of ethinyl estradiol -- 20
micrograms -- and a newer progestin, drospirenone, that is an
analog of the diuretic agent, spironolactone," she explained.

To investigate its effects, Yonkers and colleagues randomly
assigned 450 women with symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric
disorder to receive the oral contraceptive or placebo. The
active formulation was administered for 24 days followed by 4
days of inactive pills.

"Response, defined as a 50 percent decrease in daily
symptoms scores, occurred in 48 percent of the active-treatment
group and 36 percent of the placebo group," the team reports in
the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Yonkers added that the dosing schedule, 24 days of active
treatment and 4 days of "blanks," rather than the usual 21 days
of active treatment and 7 days of blanks, "may have contributed
to its" therapeutic benefits.

SOURCE: Obstetrics and Gynecology, September 2005.