Medications for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Here are the basics about each of the medicines below. Only common problems with them are listed.

Over-the-Counter Medicines

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen sodium

Prescription Medications

Oral Contraceptives

  • Estrogen and progestin taken together
  • Progestin only

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

  • Citalopram
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Paroxetine
  • Fluoxetine
  • Sertraline

Benzodiazepines

  • Alprazolam
  • Lorazepam

Over-the-Counter Medicines

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Common names are:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen sodium

NSAIDs may ease cramps, headaches, and back and breast pain.

Problems may be:

  • Belly pain or discomfort
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea and vomiting

Prescription Medications

Oral Contraceptives

Hormonal contraceptives suppress ovulation, so they may provide PMS relief in many women. Combined oral contraceptive pills (which contain both estrogen and progestin) or a progestin-only contraceptive may be used.

Problems may be:

  • Mood changes
  • Tender breasts
  • Headaches
  • Spotting

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Common names are:

  • Citalopram
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Paroxetine
  • Fluoxetine
  • Sertraline

SSRIs are used to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a rare and severe form of PMS. It can help ease depression, irritability, and some physical symptoms. SSRIs may also be helpful to women who have severe PMS.

Problems may be:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual problems
  • Weight gain
  • Risk of severe mood and behavior changes, including suicidal thoughts in some people (Young adults may be at a higher risk.)

Benzodiazepines

Common names are:

  • Alprazolam
  • Lorazepam

Benzodiazepines may help women who have severe premenstrual anxiety that is not eased by other methods. These drugs can cause dependency when used for three months or more.

Problems may be:

  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness

References:

Premenstrual syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/premenstrual-syndrome. Updated August 22, 2019. Accessed January 16, 2020.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated July 25, 2018. Accessed January 16, 2020.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) fact sheet. Office on Women's Health website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated March 16, 2018. Accessed January 16, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 1/16/2020

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