Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: a meta-analysis

Obstet Gynecol. 2008 May;111(5):1175-82. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31816fd73b.


Objective: To systematically review evidence of the treatment benefits of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for symptoms related to severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Data sources: We conducted electronic database searches of MEDLINE, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, Embase, PsycINFO, and Cinahl through March 2007, and hand-searched reference lists and pertinent journals.

Methods of study selection: Studies included in the review were double-blind, randomized, controlled trials comparing an SSRI with placebo that reported a change in a validated score of premenstrual symptomatology. Studies had to report follow-up for any duration longer than one menstrual cycle among premenopausal women who met clinical diagnostic criteria for PMS or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. From 2,132 citations identified, we pooled results from 29 studies (in 19 citations) using random-effects meta-analyses and present results as odds ratios (ORs).

Tabulation, integration, and results: Our meta- analysis, which included 2,964 women, demonstrates that SSRIs are effective for treating PMS and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (OR 0.40, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.31-0.51). Intermittent dosing regimens were found to be less effective (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.45-0.68) than continuous dosing regimens (OR 0.28, 95% CI 0.18-0.42). No SSRI was demonstrably better than another. The choice of outcome measurement instrument was associated with effect size estimates. The overall effect size is smaller than reported previously.

Conclusion: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors were found to be effective in treating premenstrual symptoms, with continuous dosing regimens favored for effectiveness.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Citalopram / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / therapeutic use
  • Fluvoxamine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Paroxetine / therapeutic use
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Sertraline / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Fluoxetine
  • Citalopram
  • Paroxetine
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Sertraline