Teens' PMS Experience Mirrors That of Women : The worst symptoms among teens with PMS were identical to those reported in studies of women.


NEW ORLEANS — Premenstrual syndrome is common in adolescents, and symptoms are similar to those reported by women, a study suggests.

The findings debunk the “commonly accepted belief that adolescents suffer mostly from dysmenorrhea, and older women suffer mostly from PMS,” Michelle D. Vichnin, M.D., said, noting that in her experience, teens do indeed suffer from PMS.

A total of 94 girls aged 13–18 years took part in the 6-month study during which they completed the Daily Symptom Report (DSR), a validated tool for measuring 17 PMS symptoms in women.

A total of 31% of the participants had self-reported and confirmed PMS; 54% had self-reported PMS, but did not meet the criteria for confirmed PMS; and 15% had no PMS, Dr. Vichnin reported during the annual meeting of the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.

Confirmed PMS was defined as a self-report of PMS along with a 50% increase in premenstrual vs. postmenstrual DSR scores, said Dr. Vichnin of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

The worst symptoms among teens with PMS were mood swings, anxiety, irritability, food cravings, and increased appetite, swelling and/or bloating, and cramps. These symptoms are identical to those reported in studies of women with PMS, she noted.

As is also true in women, the greatest impact of these symptoms was on the home/family scale, she said.

In this study, older age and family history of PMS were significantly associated with PMS. Oral contraceptive use and dysmenorrhea were not associated with PMS.

Since these data suggest that PMS is the same condition in teens as it is in women, the next question is whether treatments shown to be effective in women would be effective in teens. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), for example, have been shown to be quite safe and effective for PMS in women, but their use for this purpose in teens has not been well studied.

“So I would like to see a randomized placebo-controlled trial of SSRIs in adolescents with premenstrual syndrome,” she said

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