A new contraceptive pill could help to reduce the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome, it could also reduce a woman's monthly periods to just four a year. US researchers have almost completed trials of the pill.
The new pill is a combination of two commonly used hormones already available in various dosages in oral contraceptives. Women have to take it for 84 consecutive days and then skip a week. Researcher Dr Freedolph D Anderson said side effects should be the same as for any birth control pill. He said: "Low and ultra-low doses are used, so the side effects should be minimal.
"The main advantages are fewer periods per year - four versus 13 - less blood loss, fewer pads, and less risk of the side effects of menstruation such as anaemia. "Moreover, the hormonal fluctuations typical of a real menstrual cycle are smoothed out and this may help to relieve pre-menstrual tension syndrome."
Contraceptive pills work by artificially raising the level of female hormones in the blood. This overrides the normal hormonal signal from the ovaries and prevents the shredding of the lining of the uterus which is the bleeding seen during menstruation. If things go according to plan, the pill, named Seasonale, could be on the market by next year.