Birth Control: Does it Really Help with PMS and PMDD Symptoms

By Ashley Danielle
Edited by Taj Schlebusch

Published September 23, 2021.

Birth Control: Does it Really Help with PMS and PMDD Symptoms main image

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a group of physical and behavioral symptoms that occur in a cyclic pattern during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is the more severe form of PMS. At first glance, PMS and PMDD may seem to be the same because they have many of the same symptoms but PMDD is different in that the symptoms are many degrees more extreme.

Studies have shown various hormonal contraceptives have the ability to diminish PMDD symptoms, as well as provide some PMS relief.

Can PMS and PMDD Be Treated With Birth Control?

PMS

There's no way to know for sure if treating PMS with birth control pills will work for you. But hormonal birth control is considered to be more likely to help PMS symptoms than to worsen them.

Mood symptoms (irritability, moodiness, anxiety) in people with PMS are thought to be caused by changes in hormone levels. Studies have shown that the steady release of hormones by birth control pills can lessen the emotional symptoms of PMS in some women.

Someone taking a hormonal medication that keeps estrogen and progesterone levels stable is far less likely to experience the natural yet massive hormone shifts that cause PMS.

PMDD

PMDD is a negative response to the normal fluctuations in female reproductive hormone levels. There are instances where an individual with PMDD is also suffering from a hormone imbalance, but for most, hormone imbalance is not the cause of PMDD symptoms.

Oral contraceptives may reduce PMDD symptoms by controlling or stopping your periods, but the evidence for the pill as a treatment for PMDD is mixed. Some people find it helps to reduce their symptoms, but others find it makes the symptoms worse.

Evidence suggests that triphasic (Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Tri Sprintec) or biphasic pills (Mircette, Azurette) may be more likely to affect mood symptoms than monophasic pills (Ortho-Cyclen, Sprintec). This is due to the hormonal fluctuations that occur with the tri- and biphasic preparations.

Which Birth Control Pill Is Best for PMS and PMDD?

Studies show that the benefits of hormonal birth control on mood in PMS or PMDD are complex and may vary considerably from one person to another. However, there is only one birth control pill that has been FDA approved to treat both, and that is Yaz. It has been proven to work better than placebos in improving symptoms such as negative moods, increased appetite, insomnia, etc.

Can Birth Control Help With Period Symptoms?

Because the pill delivers everything in steady doses, it can even out your hormone levels and make them more predictable. In summary, taking the birth control pill can get rid of many unpleasant period symptoms.