4 common medications used in PMS treatment

I’d love to do a survey on PMS treatment that has been offered to women suffering every month.

I’ve been told my many women they were not offered anything and have often been told that ‘PMS is a normal part of the menstrual cycle’ and then dismissed.

There are also many women who have never seeked help or treatment as they themselves have believed that ‘PMS is a normal part of the menstrual cycle’.

On a positive note for women who do seek help they may be asked to try lifestyle changes first. These suggestions usually include:

  • Exercise regularly – at least 2.5 hours of exercise in the week
  • Reduce salt
  • Reduce caffeine
  • Reduce alcohol
  • Quit smoking

Next point of call requires symptom management and the following medications can be used to give symptomatic relief in PMS treatment:

  1. The Oral Contraceptive Pill (OCP)

The synthetic hormones that formulate the pill override the bodies natural hormone system. This shuts down the hormonal communication between your brain and stops your own internal production of hormones. You then experience a medicated cycle where the synthetic hormones are controlled and women may see improvements in their PMS symptoms.

The side-effects of the OCP

The OCP has a shopping list of side-effects (this includes all delivery methods of the synthetic hormones such as: pill, implanon, injection, nuva ring), but the most devastating is that your internal hormone production is completely switched off. You essentially stop your menstrual cycle and from then on you experience a synthetically induced cycle and lose all the beneficial benefits of your endogenous (internal) hormones.

And here’s your shopping list of side-effects: mood changes, lowered libido, blood clots, post-pill amenorrhoea, migraines and/ or headaches, insulin resistance, hair loss among many others.

  1. Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs are for symptomatic relief only. They help to reduce symptoms of pain, cramping, headaches and sore breasts. This form of treatment needs to be used every month when PMS symptoms are experienced. It is recommended that NSAIDs are taken 1-2 days before pain commences, as they block the inflammatory chemicals that may be causing the pain and do this more effectively before the pain begins. NSAID medication includes: ibuprofen (common brand names are Nurofen and Advil) and naproxen (common brands are Naprogesic, Aleve, Naprosyn and many others).

The side-effects of NSAIDs

This medication can cause heartburn, gastrointestinal bleeding and increase your risk for stomach ulcers. NSAIDs also put additional stress on your heart, kidneys and liver. And if you’re an asthmatic, this medication can worsen your asthma symptoms.

  1. Diuretic

Diuretics also known as a water pill, such as Spironolactone (Aldactone), may be given to reduce bloating, fluid retention and breast tenderness when taken during the weeks leading up to your period (the premenstrual time).

The side-effects of diuretics

This medication may cause: skin rash, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, wind and stomach pain.

  1. Anti-depressants

Anti-depressants such as SSRI’s (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) may be prescribed for physical and emotional symptoms related to PMS. This medication addresses the neurotransmitter involvement of PMS and changes the serotonin levels in the brain. The downside to anti-depressants is that they are given all month long even though they are not needed for the whole menstrual cycle, and in my opinion they never actually address the cause.

The side-effects of anti-depressants

Possible side-effects of SSRI’s include: nausea, diarrhoea, nervousness, drowsiness, insomnia, headache, dry mouth, reduced sexual desire etc.

There are times and circumstances where the above medications may have been necessary for you to manage your symptoms of PMS. However, if these are used to manage your PMS symptoms long-term, you may want to review the side-effects a little more extensively. Please know that the above medications are simply managing your symptoms, they are not addressing the underlying reasons why the PMS is happening in the first place.

If you’d like to be more in control of your PMS symptoms, you might be interested in the next blog in the PMS series. Naturopathic treatment can help balance hormones and then alleviate symptoms. When it feels right for you, I’d love to help in your health journey. Skype consults mean that location is no longer a barrier and are great for busy women, and that’s all of us, if you’d like to book an appointment click here. Look forward to hearing from you.

Amanda xx