Oral contraceptives may ease suffering of women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), suggests a new study.
The research team from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill would be conducting clinical trials to with the help of popular low-dose contraceptive, called YAZ (ethinyl estradiol/drospirenone) that would further help in development of possible new treatments.
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.
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, where he discovered that it is the change in, reproductive hormones and not the level triggers depression in women who are susceptible to PMDD.
"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," said Rubinow.
"If we can eliminate the hormone cycling, we should eliminate the PMDD symptoms," added fellow co-principal investigator of the trial, Susan Girdler, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry.
During the trial, researchers will test three groups of 27 women for a three-month period. One group will take a full 28-day dose of oral contraceptives continuously, while another would be given the standard 21-7 regimen each month. A third group will be given a placebo.
After the three months, researchers will measure hormone cycling, as well as metabolites of progesterone, which are involved in activating brain centres.
"They're regulators of mood and emotion, so if you can eliminate the metabolites that have been implicated in PMDD you may create a huge benefit for women with PMDD," Girdler said.
"We believe this trial will help us understand the underlying physiology, which will allow for the development of a range of possible new treatments," Rubinow added.