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Extended Oral Contraceptive Use May Help PMS Symptoms

A 168-day regimen produces fewer physical symptoms and mood swings than the regular 21/7-day regimen

TUESDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Taking a continuous 168-day course of oral contraceptives can reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, compared to the 21/7-day regimen, according to the results of a study published in the November issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Andrea L. Coffee, Pharm.D., of Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas, and colleagues conducted a study of 111 women who had switched from a 21/7-day regimen of an oral contraceptive containing 3 mg of drosperinone and 30 μg of ethinylestradiol to a continuous 168-day regimen.

A subgroup of 55 women (54 percent) with the greatest cyclical variation in physical symptoms and mood swings was identified and taken to resemble patients with premenstrual syndrome. Those women who experienced the most severe cyclic variability when taking the oral contraceptives on a 21/7-day basis benefited the most from a 168-day regimen, with the biggest improvement noted during the sixth month.

"Since many patients discontinue oral contraceptives because of premenstrual-type symptoms including breast tenderness, bloating, headaches and mood swings, warning patients of their possible occurrence and management options can be crucial to oral contraceptive continuation," the authors write. "Those with significant cyclic variation in symptomatology can be offered the option of an extended regimen."

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