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Study shows oral contraceptive may be effective on PMS symptoms

LOS ANGELES, CAL., Feb. 24  -- The physical and emotional symptoms associated with a woman's menstrual cycle were significantly reduced in women taking the combination of drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol contained in the oral contraceptive Yasmin, as reported in a study published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine.

This reduction of menstrual-related symptoms led to a significant improvement in women's health-related quality of life and overall sense of well-being.

"Many women suffer from menstrual symptoms such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that disrupt their quality of life in numerous ways," says Andrea J. Rapkin, M.D., study author and UCLA professor of obstetrics and gynecology. "This study of over 700 women's actual experiences reconfirms past data that Yasmin is effective in reducing these symptoms and, more importantly, shows that reduction of these symptoms can have a significant impact on a woman's life."

Although not a prerequisite for participation, prior to the study 72 percent of respondents reported suffering from PMS, a clinical condition with psychological and physical symptoms that can significantly influence social relationships, health-related quality of life and work productivity.

During the month before the study began, half were actively treating their symptoms with over-the-counter or prescription medications or herbs and vitamins. Before taking Yasmin, 67 percent of respondents had used some form of contraception and 46 percent had used another oral contraceptive.

"We conducted this study to determine how the reduction of menstrual symptoms can actually impact women's lives, and also because we have seen conflicting data addressing the question of whether oral contraceptives are an effective way to treat menstrual symptoms," Rapkin explains. "Many oral contraceptives can help with some symptoms while exacerbating others. The women participating in our study reported multiple symptom improvement leading to a significant positive impact on their lives."

Reduced behavioral, emotional and physical PMS symptoms and improved quality of life

Study participants reported being better able to perform daily activities after commencing therapy, and their general sense of well-being significantly improved during their menstrual cycle.

After starting therapy, the number of women reporting that PMS affected their daily activities moderately, quite a bit or extremely was cut nearly in half (from 30 percent of participants to 16 percent).

Similarly, the number of study participants reporting that PMS affected their general well-being moderately to extremely dropped 42 percent (from 35 percent of women to 21 percent) following therapy.

For new oral contraceptive users, significant improvements were noted in the water retention cluster (i.e., weight gain, skin disorders, painful breasts and swelling) and the negative affect cluster (i.e., crying, loneliness, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, mood swings, depression, tension and food cravings) during the four days before the period and during menstruation.

For these patients, the improvement in negative affect also extended into the remainder of the cycle (except crying and loneliness). For patients who had switched to Yasmin from other oral contraceptives, improvements were noted for all phases of the cycle.

Specifically, during the four days prior to the menstrual period, when PMS symptoms typically are greatest, study results revealed improvements in all categories of symptoms.

Study screening measures

Two standard health-screening measures were used to track and score the physical, behavioral and emotional symptoms of PMS reported by women at three different phases of their menstrual cycle and before and after therapy.

Through use of a long-established standard known as the Menstrual Distress Questionnaire (MDQ), this study shows that Yasmin significantly improves menstrual symptoms in the four days prior to a woman's period and during menstruation.  It also shows that Yasmin improves a patients' general sense of well-being and causes less impairment in activities due to menstrual symptoms.

The mental health components of the Short Form-12 (SF-12) Health Survey, a well-accepted and validated instrument used to measure health-related quality of life, showed improvement as well.

This study was designed and implemented by Zynx Life Sciences, which also performed all data analysis. This study was sponsored by Berlex Laboratories, Inc., which makes Yasmin. Dr. Rapkin speaks about Yasmin to other physicians as a participant in the Berlex speaker's bureau.

About UCLA

UCLA's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology offers a full range of women's health-related services such as those for high-risk pregnancy, gynecologic cancer, reproductive endocrinology and infertility. UCLA's obstetrics-gynecology department ranks fifth in the nation and UCLA Medical Center ranks as the best hospital in the Western United States for the 13th consecutive year, according to this year's U.S. News & World Report's annual guide to "America's best hospitals."

About Zynx

Zynx Life Sciences, a Cerner company, was established by physician executives and research professionals who are leaders in the field of evidence-based medicine.  Zynx designs, implements and publishes state-of-the-art research on effective medical practice and the clinical and economic benefits of therapeutics, devices and strategies.

Source: UCLA

Posted: February 2003