Background: The symptoms of women with premenstrual syndrome improve in response to suppression of ovarian function, although these women have no evidence of ovarian dysfunction. We undertook a study to determine the role of estrogen and progesterone in this syndrome.
Methods: We first studied the effect of ovarian suppression with leuprolide, an agonist analogue of gonadotropin-releasing hormone, or placebo on symptoms in 20 women with the premenstrual syndrome. Ten women whose symptoms improved during leuprolide treatment were given estradiol and progesterone in a double-blind, crossover design, each for four weeks, during continued leuprolide administration. Women without premenstrual syndrome (normal women) participated in a similar protocol. Outcomes were assessed on the basis of daily self-reports by the patients and biweekly rater-administered symptom-rating scales.
Results: The 10 women with premenstrual syndrome who were given leuprolide had a significant decrease in symptoms as compared with base-line values and with values for the 10 women who were given placebo. The 10 women with premenstrual syndrome who were given leuprolide plus estradiol or progesterone had a significant recurrence of symptoms, but no changes in mood occurred in 15 normal women who received the same regimen or in 5 women with premenstrual syndrome who were given placebo hormone during continued leuprolide administration.
Conclusions: In women with premenstrual syndrome, the occurrence of symptoms represents an abnormal response to normal hormonal changes.