Posted by Neharika Sabharwal on October 09, 2009

Menstrual cramps are the leading cause of absenteeism in young women. Although some degree of pain and discomfort during menstruation is normal, nearly 10 percent are temporarily disabled by symptoms.

Now, scientists from Southampton are on the verge of launching VA111913, a pill that can help make menstrual cramps a thing of the past.

Dr Jim Phillips, chief executive of Vantia Therapeutics, the company behind the drug being developed to tackle the agonizing period pains, stated, "Dysmenorrhoea [painful menstruation] affects a large number of women and there is currently not targeted therapy to treat the condition.

"I think it would be fair to call it a breakthrough there is certainly no other treatment like it. From our research there is nothing to suggest it won't work.”

Pill to target period misery
There are many over-the-counter pills in the market, but the existing oral medications cause significant gastrointestinal side effects for women, creating additional discomfort while alleviating menstrual pain.

The goal of the scientists was to find a specific way to treat the agonizing monthly pains. The scientists claim that the secret behind the miracle pill is that it aims to tackle the cause of the pain rather than treating the symptoms.

Menstrual pain, or dysmenorrhea, is the painful cramping caused at the initiation of menstruation and is due to contraction of uterine muscles and shedding of endometrium. VA111913 works by targeting the muscles that contract in the uterus wall, thereby alleviating the pain.

“This has the potential to directly target the cause of dysmenorrhoea by acting on the smooth muscle in the uterus wall. We believe this could offer an effective alternative to over-the-counter painkillers,” states Dr Phillips.

Second phase of trials
Initial trials of the drug have been promising without any adverse effects. The drug is now on the threshold of the second phase of tests in Britain and the United States to certify its safety and efficacy.

A six-day course of the medication will be administered to128 women aged between 18 and 35 who suffer intense pain during their menstrual cycle.

The trail will take place over the next two months, and its results shall be released in the middle of next year. The scientists are optimistic about the outcome of the test. The pill could be marketed for commercial use in a little over four years.

Other techniques used to combat menstrual pains
Medication is the most popular route women adopt to relieve themselves of menstrual cramps, though some prefer to rely upon natural solutions, such as taking a bath or using botanical supplements.

Other techniques women follow are to place a hot water bottle on the stomach or undertake relaxing exercises to stop the pain.

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