Medical Treatments for PMS

PMS reliefPMS relief can sometimes seem elusive for many women, however, treating PMS can be as easy as popping an over-the-counter pill a few days before your period or as involved as taking a prescription medication coupled with vitamins and supplements. Talk to your doctor about the ideal course of action for your individual symptoms of PMS.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications
Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medications are usually a first stop for women experiencing pain caused by PMS. Taken a few days before your period begins, NSAIDs can help alleviate cramping, headaches, muscle aches and other types of pain. These include:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Naproxen Sodium (Aleve)

WARNINGS:
Due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome, aspirin should not be given to children or teenagers. Aspirin works as a blood thinner, do not take if you have a bleeding disorder or recently underwent surgery. Acetaminophen can be fatal if taken in large quantities, do not take more than the recommended dosage. NSAIDs can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke, according to Drugs.com, take only as needed and talk to your doctor if you have pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any other medications.

Antidepressants
If your symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily activities, or if you have another mood disorder such as seasonal affective disorder or clinical depression, your physician may prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)antidepressant. Some women only need to take the medication during the two weeks before their period, while others may need to take it every day. Antidepressants commonly used to treat PMS include:

  • Fluoxetine (Serafem, Prozac)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

Side effects from antidepressants vary, but can include dry mouth, sexual dysfunction, difficulty sleeping and upset stomach. For some women, antidepressants can cause more severe side effects, including thought of suicide, extreme agitation and, ironically, depression or anxiety. Regular monitoring by a physician is vital while taking antidepressants, especially during the first few months.

Diuretics
Diuretics, commonly referred to as “water pills” may help alleviate bloating and weight gain caused by water retention. These medications come in both prescription and over-the-counter strengths, and work by helping your body get rid of excess salt or water. Typically, over-the-counter diuretics are sufficient for treating PMS symptoms. However, if the bloating is severe enough, your doctor may prescribe a stronger medication. Midol and Pamprin, two popular PMS OTC meds, contain a mild diuretic.

Contraceptives
If your doctor suspects that hormonal issues are the culprit behind your PMS, she may prescribe an oral or injectable contraceptive. These medications contain a combination of estrogen and progestin to help balance hormones and lessen the severity of cramps or the duration of menstruation. However, in some cases, contraceptives can worsen the symptoms of PMS. They come in several different strengths and forms. Examples include:

  • Yaz, a low-dose oral contraceptive specifically designed for women suffering from PMDD.
  • Seasonale, a continuous-dosing medication, can decrease the frequency of menstruation to about four times a year.
  • Depo-Provera, an injection similar to progesterone that prevents ovulation.

Since all women are different, finding the best PMS relief treatment is something you should discuss with your doctor so the two of you can decide on a plan that will be the most beneficial to you as an individual.