Research: SINGH and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 38

Abstract

SINGH and colleagues, Complementary Medicine Program, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore USA write that 30%-80% of women are believed to be affected by premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The authors studied to provide information regarding the incidence of PMS and therapies used by American women.

Background

Methodology

: Conducted in 1996, a national probability sample (n = 1052) of US women aged 21-64 years was surveyed by telephone using random digit dial methodology. The survey included demographic data, respondent knowledge of PMS, the incidence rates of common symptoms and remedies being used to control symptoms.

Results

41% of the women indicated that they suffered from PMS, and an additional 17% indicated that they experienced symptoms prior to their menstrual cycle commonly associated with PMS, including pain, bloating, feeling more emotional, weight gain, food cravings, although they didn't associate these symptoms explicitly with PMS. The most frequently cited severe symptom was that of "feeling more emotional". Of those women reporting PMS symptoms, about 42% took either prescription or over-the counter medications for relief of their symptoms. 80% of women taking any kind of medication relied upon over-the-counter medications. Prescription drugs used for PMS symptoms were mainly medications for pain relief, with hormone supplements the second most frequently prescribed drugs. Less than 3% of respondents used prescription medications. Of complementary therapies used for relief of symptoms, exercise was the most frequently used (18%) and acupuncture the least used. A small percentage of women used complementary therapies and for most of these therapies there was a near-perfect concordance found between usage and belief in efficacy.

Conclusion

Women were more frequently aware of symptoms related to PMS rather than a recognition of a formalised medical syndrome. Less than half the women reporting symptoms had taken either over-the-counter or prescription drugs. Women who tried complementary therapies generally found them to be effective.

References

Singh BB et al. Incidence of premenstrual syndrome and remedy usage: a national probability sample study. Altern Ther Health Med 4(3): 75-9 May 1998.

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