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Jeffrey Ellis, M.D., Dr. Ellis is a Board-Certified Obstetrician Gynecologist with over 20 years of clinical experience in both academic and private practice settings.† He has served on the academic faculties of Rush Medical College, Northwestern University, and Emory University.† Dr. Ellis is the author or editor of 18 books, several of which have been used in medical training programs throughout the world.† His research interests include abnormalities of menstruation, specifically heavy menstrual bleeding and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).† While in practice in Chicago, he established one of the first centers for the treatment of PMS in Illinois.† Dr. Ellis is also the author of the chapter on PMS in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Talking To Your Doctor About Relief From Painful Cramps

Women have long given sweet-sounding nicknames, like "my friend," or "Aunt Flo," to their monthly menstrual periods.†

However, when more than 50 percent of all women suffer from dysmenorrhea, or painful, debilitating periods, it begs the question -- with a friend like this, who needs enemies?† For women with dysmenorrhea, menstrual periods are often accompanied by a combination of migraines, heavy bleeding and cramps even more severe than labor pains. In fact, the pain can be so severe that women with dysmenorrhea experience high rates of absenteeism from school and their jobs.

While over-the-counter medications can relieve some milder menstrual symptoms, real help is also available for women with dysmenorrhea from your healthcare provider.† According to a recent article in OBG Management, taking mefenamic acid, available only in Ponstel, can quickly and completely alleviate severe menstrual pain. The 35-year-old prescription medication, containing 250 mg of mefenamic acid, is one of the most extensively studied drugs for treatment of dysmenorrhea.

"Mefenamic acid effectively relieves severe menstrual pain while also reducing heavy menstrual bleeding, easing menstrual migraine, and easing the physical and emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome," said article author Roger P. Smith, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.† "Many women experience a combination of these conditions with primary dysmenorrhea, so it is very convenient to be able to provide relief with just one drug."

Ponstel's dual mode of action prevents the production of prostaglandins - the chemicals that cause uterine cramping - and blocks the action of pre-formed prostaglandins.† With other medications, complete relief comes only once the supply of pre-formed prostaglandins is exhausted, a process that can take up to two hours.

Though treatment options for dysmenorrhea vary, many healthcare providers prefer to stay with a drug that they know is effective and safe.† "Some COX-2 inhibitors, including Vioxx and the recently launched Bextra, require two to four times the dose recommended for arthritis to treat dysmenorrhea," said Smith.† "I would rather stay with a medication that has been proven safe over the years."

Please visit your healthcare provider to learn more about treatment options for dysmenorrhea.†

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Created: 10/5/2002  -  Jeffrey Ellis M.D.

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