Effective antidepressants

Every month some women suffer from symptoms more or less violent before the onset of menstruation. Different treatments have been tried to prevent these premenstrual syndromes. Among the latest drugs proposed, a new oestroprogestative pill.

A new test pill

It is usually estimated that three out of every four women have experienced, at one time or another, premenstrual syndrome. This is characterized by the appearance of the most diverse symptoms in the days preceding the onset of menstruation. They can include headaches, heavy legs, diarrhea, irritability, tension in the breasts. But the most severe form of premenstrual syndrome is that manifested by mood disorders, often with a depressive tendency. Between 2 and 9% of women would suffer from these cyclical mood disorders. Symptoms usually occur one week before menstruation and give up completely on arrival.

Further studies are needed

Often, fortunately, the disorders are not very intense and women do not even feel the need to talk to their doctor. But sometimes the embarrassment is considerable and can prevent any work and social life. Medications directed against major symptoms can provide some relief. In the case of mood disorders, several studies have shown the efficacy of certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (a family of antidepressants led by Prozac). However, such treatment can only be applied to severe syndromes.

A contraceptive pill, currently being tested in the United States, could prevent premenstrual syndromes. This, in itself, is not surprising. Indeed, although its effectiveness is not fully proven, oral contraception has been proposed for a long time in the treatment of these disorders which affect, to varying degrees, many women. What is newer, on the other hand, is that the laboratory experimenting with this pill plans to apply to the Food and Drug Administration for marketing precisely in this indication, unlike the other pills, which remain officially intended To contraception.

Premenstrual syndrome seems to be related to ovulation and sparing pregnant or post-menopausal women, treatments inhibiting ovulation have of course been tried, and primarily the oestroprogestative pills. However, while initial surveys were encouraging and showed that women on pills generally had fewer premenstrual symptoms, controlled trials showed little difference from placebo. What about the new oestroprogestative pill, baptized Yasmine, developed by the Berlex laboratories? The first study, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, is favorable: 258 women who took the pill for six months reported a marked improvement in their symptoms. There is no evidence, however, that the results will be as conclusive when the pill is compared to a placebo.