Marla Ahlgrimm R.Ph.

Marla Ahlgrimm | Retired Pharmacist | Leading Expert in Women's Health

Retired Pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm Looks at PMS Treatments

Marla AhlgrimmA retired pharmacist with over 40 years of experience in treating women’s health issues, Marla Ahlgrimm is intimately familiar with the pain and discomfort of premenstrual syndrome. Here, Ahlgrimm touches on a few of the most common pharmaceutical treatments for PMS.

Q: My doctor recently diagnosed me with PMDD and has prescribed an antidepressant. Why don’t I have to take it daily the entire month?

Marla Ahlgrimm: When antidepressants are prescribed for depression, they are taken every day. However, women with severe PMS and PMDD may not need medication during the time when their hormones are least active. It is common for doctors to prescribe antidepressants only to be taken the two weeks prior to menstruation, at which time symptoms typically subside on their own.

Q: What are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs?

Marla Ahlgrimm: NSAIDs are over-the-counter medicines such as Aleve and ibuprofen. They are taken to ease cramping and reduce breast discomfort and back pain in women with mild to moderate PMS symptoms.

Q: I limit my salt intake and exercise daily but I still can’t get rid of bloating and swelling just before my period. Should I take a diuretic?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Diuretics, which are also known as water pills, can help push excess fluid through your kidneys. They may relieve temporary weight gain and bloating relating to water retention. Although they are available over-the-counter, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor before taking a diuretic as they may interfere with other prescription medications.

Q: I’ve heard that birth control can be used to stop PMS completely. Is that true?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Oral contraceptives have been used for many years to mitigate the symptoms of PMS. Birth control is prescribed in 28 day courses – 21 days on and seven days off. During the off days, a woman will still take a pill, although it will not contain any active medication. When oral contraceptives have been prescribed to treat PMS, your doctor may suggest that you skip the off pills and move straight to a new pack. Talk to your doctor about using your birth control in this way before skipping any pills.


Author: Marla Ahlgrimm

Pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm revolutionized the field of women’s health in the 1970s and continues to do so today. After introducing the term “premenstrual syndrome” to the American public in the late 1970s, Marla Ahlgrimm has continued to focus her pharmacy practice over the years to successfully address hormone concerns that affect women as they age. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Marla Ahlgrimm co-founded Madison Pharmacy Associates, and it was there she fine tuned individualized care protocols and prescription medication to optimize a woman’s hormonal health. One of the first hormone issues that Marla tackled was Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS. At that time, there were no diagnosis or treatment options to address the severe symptoms that many women were reporting. As a result of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s intense attention to women’s health, Madison Pharmacy Associates gained a national reputation as an innovative practice. Founded in 1982, Madison Pharmacy Associates was the first pharmacy to special in women’s health in the nation. Thanks to the expertise of Marla Ahlgrimm, Madison Pharmacy Associates became known for the management of PMS. Over the years, Madison Pharmacy Associates evolved with Marla Ahlgrimm’s careful guidance, providing the national PMS Access newsletter, as well as a toll-free line where patients could obtain referrals to physicians who had the expertise to help them manage their symptoms. Marla Ahlgrimm founded Women’s Health America, Inc. in 1993 to help women by providing individualized hormonal medications to address the complex health issues of women and also to provide practical, helpful women’s health information. Over the years, Marla Ahlgrimm’s vision has grown to include Women’s Health America, Madison Pharmacy Associates, PMS Access and Cyclin Pharmaceuticals. In addition to her accomplishments with these landmark organizations, Marla Ahlgrimm is an author, having published two watershed books, The HRT Solution and Self-Help for Premenstrual Syndrome. Marla Ahlgrimm has also been published in numerous national publications, including serving as a columnist for The American Journal of Natural Medicine. Today, the primary work of Marla Ahlgrimm centers on natural hormone therapy, an important area for the large number of women who are menopausal and postmenopausal. Marla Ahlgrimm ’s work is unique because of her focus on individualized, natural hormone therapy options. According to pharmacist, Marla Ahlgrimm, many health issues facing women today are related to hormone changes. Using an individualized approach to therapy, she reports that many women feel reenergized for the first time in years. In addition to recognition in publications and journals, Marla Ahlgrimm has been recognized with a number awards over the span of her career. Some of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s most notable awards have been the YWCA’s acknowledgment of Marla Ahlgrimm as one of its Women of Distinction and recognition by her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, as one of its Distinguished Alumni. Above all of the awards and honors, Marla Ahlgrimm finds that helping so many women is the greatest accomplishment of all. In fact, says Marla Ahlgrimm, she still works with some of her very first patients and their doctors. These women once sought the help of Marla Ahlgrimm for PMS, she says, and today she is helping them manage symptoms of menopause and the years that follow.

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