SCIENCE / MEDICINE : PMS Treatment Doubted

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Progesterone suppositories, the most common treatment for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), are not significantly effective for the condition that afflicts up to 7 million American women, University of Pennsylvania researchers said last week in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

The researchers studied 168 women who reported various PMS symptoms, including irritability, mood swings and breast tenderness--the largest such study ever conducted. Women in the 1988 study received vaginal suppositories containing progesterone for two months, followed or preceded by two months of treatment with a placebo.

Forty-four percent of the 121 women studied reported at least a 50% decrease in PMS symptoms. But because all the women had received both progesterone and a placebo, researchers said the improvement could not be attributed to the hormone.