Introduction: A woman has premenstrual syndrome (PMS) if she complains of recurrent psychological and/or physical symptoms occurring during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, and often resolving by the end of menstruation. Symptom severity can vary between women. Premenstrual symptoms occur in 95% of women of reproductive age. Severe, debilitating symptoms occur in about 5% of those women. There is no consensus on how symptom severity should be assessed for PMS, which has led to the use of a wide variety of symptom scores and scales, thus making it difficult to synthesise data on treatment efficacy. The cyclical nature of the condition also makes it difficult to conduct RCTs.
Methods and outcomes: We conducted a systematic overview, aiming to answer the following clinical question: What are the effects of continuous hormonal treatments in women with premenstrual syndrome? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to April 2014 (Clinical Evidence overviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this overview).
Results: At this update, searching of electronic databases retrieved 132 studies. After deduplication and removal of conference abstracts, 132 records were screened for inclusion in the overview. Appraisal of titles and abstracts led to the exclusion of 102 studies and the further review of 30 full publications. Of the 30 full articles evaluated, one systematic review and three RCTs were added to this overview. We performed a GRADE evaluation for three PICO combinations.
Conclusions: In this systematic overview, we categorised the efficacy for three interventions based on information relating to the effectiveness and safety of continuous combined oral contraceptives, continuous transdermal estradiol, and continuous subcutaneous estradiol implants.