Objective: Previous reports have suggested that disturbances in calcium regulation may underlie the pathophysiologic characteristics of premenstrual syndrome and that calcium supplementation may be an effective therapeutic approach. To evaluate the effect of calcium carbonate on the luteal and menstrual phases of the menstrual cycle in premenstrual syndrome, a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, multicenter clinical trial was conducted.
Study design: Healthy, premenopausal women between the ages of 18 and 45 years were recruited nationally across the United States at 12 outpatient centers and screened for moderate-to-severe, cyclically recurring premenstrual symptoms. Symptoms were prospectively documented over 2 menstrual cycles with a daily rating scale that had 17 core symptoms and 4 symptom factors (negative affect, water retention, food cravings, and pain). Participants were randomly assigned to receive 1200 mg of elemental calcium per day in the form of calcium carbonate or placebo for 3 menstrual cycles. Routine chemistry, complete blood cell count, and urinalysis were obtained on all participants. Daily documentation of symptoms, adverse effects, and compliance with medications were monitored. The primary outcome measure was the 17-parameter symptom complex score.
Results: Seven hundred twenty women were screened for this trial; 497 women were enrolled; 466 were valid for the efficacy analysis. There was no difference in age, weight, height, use of oral contraceptives, or menstrual cycle length between treatment groups. There were no differences between groups in the mean screening symptom complex score of the luteal (P = .659), menstrual (P = .818), or intermenstrual phase (P = .726) of the menstrual cycle. During the luteal phase of the treatment cycle, a significantly lower mean symptom complex score was observed in the calcium-treated group for both the second (P = .007) and third (P < .001) treatment cycles. By the third treatment cycle calcium effectively resulted in an overall 48% reduction in total symptom scores from baseline compared with a 30% reduction in placebo. All 4 symptom factors were significantly reduced by the third treatment cycle.
Conclusions: Calcium supplementation is a simple and effective treatment in premenstrual syndrome, resulting in a major reduction in overall luteal phase symptoms.