For women who suffer from PMS or premenstrual syndrome, new research compares the efficacy of low-dose estrogen oral contraceptives vs. a similar contraceptive with higher doses of estrogen–specifically pertaining to PMS mood symptoms.

Low Dose Estrogen Birth Control Pills and Premenstrual Syndrome:

A recent study compared two oral contraceptives with the same quantity of progestin, but differing amounts of estrogen on the effect on premenstrual mood symptoms (Greco et al, 2007).

For women who suffer from PMS related mood symptoms, the low estrogen BCP seems to be a better option.

“This study compared two oral contraceptives (OCs) with the same triphasic regimen of progestin (norgestimate 0.18, 0.215 and 0.25 mg) but differing doses of ethinyl estradiol (EE) – 25 and 35 microg EE – in their effects on androgens, mood and sexual interest in women starting on OCs” (Greco et al, 2007).

“The lower EE pill reduced FT less and was associated with greater improvement in premenstrual mood. A causal relation between these two effects is uncertain” (Greco et al, 2007).

The results of these studies suggest that low-dose estrogen contraceptives are better for mood symptoms in women with premenstrual syndrome.


  1. Greco T, Graham CA, Bancroft J, Tanner A, Doll HA. The effects of oral contraceptives on androgen levels and their relevance to premenstrual mood and sexual interest: a comparison of two triphasic formulations containing norgestimate and either 35 or 25 microg of ethinyl estradiol. Contraception. 2007 Jul;76(1):8-17. Epub 2007 May 23.

Written by 

Dr. Jarret Morrow, MD CCFP, is a licensed family physician currently practising in Edmonton, AB. He has a declared special interest in cosmetic dermatology.

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