There are a number of products available for use by women who experience pain during their monthly periods.

The symptoms of premenstrual tension vary a good deal. In the past most of the treatments offered have been designed to deal with specific symptoms (such as headaches, ankle swelling, and so on). Recently, research has shown that there are real physical causes for premenstrual tension which may be cured (temporarily or permanently) by the use of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), see p 180.

My advice to a woman who suffers from premenstrual tension and who would like to try treatment with pyridoxine would be to visit her own doctor first. There are, after all, other possible treatments which are not available without a prescription and which might prove suitable.

Those women who genuinely find it impossible to obtain pyridoxine on prescription can, however, purchase vitamin B6 tablets themselves. A dosage of 20-40 mg twice a day (totalling 40-80 mg) seems to help many women. The tablets should be taken for three days before symptoms are expected, during the time that symptoms appear or usually appear, and for three days after the disappearance of symptoms. Vitamin 136 is excreted from the body if taken in excess so potential risks are small, although some women find that even fairly low doses cause indigestion-type symptoms. After six months the vitamin tablets may be left off for a while and if symptoms recur then they can be taken again.

Incidentally, although the symptoms of premenstrual tension vary enormously from woman to woman there is one crucial diagnostic pointer: premenstrual tension problems always occur before a period and at approximately the same time in a sufferer’s cycle.

Women whose main complaint is of fluid retention are recommended by the advertisers to take a product called Aqua Ban. I do not recommend any diuretic .

Tampax are probably the best-known makers of tampons. Their name has gone into the language together with Hoover and Biro. They and Lil-lets, among others, make a range of tampons.

Towels are made by a considerable number of manufacturers. Well-known brands include Dr White’s, Kotex Simplicity, Kotex Sylphs, Libra and Lilia, and brands designed for use by women whose intermenstrual discharge is noticeable include Carefree Panty Shields and Kotex Brevia.