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UNC trial: oral contraceptives may ease suffering of women with severe PMS
Date:8/18/2008

CHAPEL HILL A new clinical trial at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill using a popular low-dose contraceptive could uncover a more effective treatment for the 5 to 10 percent of women who suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

PMDD is much more severe than premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. The disorder interferes with a woman's ability to function effectively several days out of each month, every month. Physical symptoms include bloating, low energy, heart palpitations and joint or muscle pain. Far more disruptive emotional symptoms include irritability, anxiety, depression, mood swings, difficulty focusing and trouble sleeping. For many women with PMDD, five or more of these symptoms occur the week before menstruation starts and disappear a few days after the period begins.

The National Institute of Mental Health awarded UNC a $3 million grant for a five-year clinical trial using a low-dose contraceptive called YAZ (ethinyl estradiol/drospirenone). The trial is based on previous research by David Rubinow, M.D., the Asad Meymandi Distinguished Professor and chair of psychiatry in the UNC School of Medicine.

Rubinow discovered it is the change in not the level of reproductive hormones that triggers depression in women who are susceptible to PMDD. In other words, women with the disorder don't have abnormal levels of reproductive hormones, but are more sensitive to the shifts in them that occur prior to menstruation. That sensitivity triggers mood symptoms.

"This study will potentially demonstrate that it is the regimen of administration of birth control pills rather than their specific formulation that results in successful treatment of PMDD," Rubinow said. His colleague and fellow co-principal investigator of the trial, Susan Girdler, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, added: "If we can eliminate the hormone cycling, we should eliminate the PMDD symptoms."

There are no other studies of co
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Contact: Leslie Lang
llang@med.unc.edu
919-966-9366
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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