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Recording and treatment of premenstrual syndrome in UK general practice: a retrospective cohort study
  1. Cormac J Sammon1,
  2. Irwin Nazareth1,
  3. Irene Petersen1,2
  1. 1Department of Primary care and Population Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Cormac Sammon; c.sammon{at}


Objectives To investigate the rate of recording of premenstrual syndrome diagnoses in UK primary care and describe pharmacological treatments initiated following a premenstrual syndrome (PMS) diagnosis.

Design Retrospective cohort study.

Setting UK primary care.

Participants Women registered with a practice contributing to The Health Improvement Network primary care database between 1995 and 2013.

Primary and secondary outcome measures The primary outcome was the rate of first premenstrual syndrome records per 1000 person years, stratified by calendar year and age. The secondary outcome was the proportions of women with a premenstrual syndrome record prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, progestogen, oestrogen, combined oral contraceptive, progestin only contraceptive, gonadotrophin-releasing hormone, danazol and vitamin B6.

Results The rate of recording of premenstrual syndrome diagnoses decreased over calendar time from 8.43 in 1995 to 1.72 in 2013. Of the 38 614 women without treatment in the 6 months prior to diagnosis, 54% received a potentially premenstrual syndrome-related prescription on the day of their first PMS record while 77% received a prescription in the 24 months after. Between 1995 and 1999, the majority of women were prescribed progestogens (23%) or vitamin B6 (20%) on the day of their first PMS record; after 1999, these figures fell to 3% for progestogen and vitamin B6 with the majority of women instead being prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (28%) or combined oral contraceptive (17%).

Conclusions Recording of premenstrual syndrome diagnoses in UK primary care has declined substantially over time and preferred prescription treatment has changed from progestogen to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and combined oral contraceptives.

  • premenstrual

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