How many times you have prayed for someone to invent a pill that could cure menstrual cramps? How may times have we been laid-up on the sofa with a hot water bottle or heating pad plastered to our aching belly wondering “we can put a man on the moon but can't seem to come up with a cure for period pains?”
Between 45 and 90 percent of women of child-bearing age suffer from painful menstrual cramps, or dysmenorrhea. It is the leading cause of teens and women in their 20s for missing school or work.
Period cramps are caused by contractions of the uterus, severe pain coming from abnormal contractions. Symptoms range from backaches, nausea, dizziness, anemia, headaches and vomiting.
Currently, the only options for treating dysmenorrhea are oral contraceptive pills, anti-inflammatory drugs or pain killers. These are only effective in a small percentage of women and are really just masking the problem. The relief is temporary, often with side effects such as stomach upsets and mood swings.
Finally, there might be an end in sight with a new pill designed specifically to treat the cause of the pain and not just the symptoms. Scientists have found a possible new drug with no apparent side effects. The drug is intended to suppress the vasopressin hormone that causes the contractions and can be taken orally as a pill.
The scientists searched through literally hundreds of different chemical variations to find a compound that worked. The new drug, which has been named VA111913, has been able to reduce contractions of smooth muscle, like that in the uterus.
The first phase of clinical trials had hopeful results and worked well at controlling pain and other symptoms. They are currently into the second round of trials taking place in Europe and the U.S., with results expected in the second half of 2010. If these trials are a success we can expect a drug to be on the market in about four years.
The scientists presented their study at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in San Francisco in March 2010.
The drug was developed by Vantia Therapeutics, a UK based pharmaceutical company.