Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is characterized by episodes of uncontrolled nausea and vomiting. Catamenial CVS is a subtype that’s tied to the menstrual cycle.
Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is a condition that causes episodes of uncontrolled nausea and vomiting. These episodes can last for several hours or several days. For some people, these episodes can include additional symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, paleness, and headaches.
Catamenial CVS is a type of CVS that’s linked to menstruation. People with this type of CVS have episodes of severe nausea and vomiting in connection with their menstrual cycle. Sometimes, catamenial CVS is temporary. It can affect people during adolescence and fade in adulthood. But for some people, catamenial CVS is a lifelong condition.
For people with the condition, this nausea can be severe and can make it difficult to leave bed. Unlike many other conditions that cause nausea and vomiting, vomiting typically doesn’t relieve nausea for people with CVS. Instead, the nausea commonly persists until the episode ends.
Other symptoms people with catamenial CVS might experience during an episode include:
- body aches
- abdominal pain
- sensitivity to light
- sensitivity to sound
Episodes of this condition can sometimes be difficult to manage. Some symptoms, such as dehydration caused by repeated vomiting, can be dangerous.
People with catamenial CVS can sometimes need hospitalization during severe episodes.
CVS episodes are often linked to triggers. A trigger is an event or environmental factor that brings on an episode. For most people with catamenial CVS, menstruation is the primary trigger for episodes.
Additional common triggers include:
There are a few different treatment options for catamenial CVS. Treatment is typically focused on preventing episodes, on shortening episodes that do occur, and on managing symptoms during episodes. Treatments are individual and based on symptoms and severity.
Treatment options include:
- Migraine medications: Many of the same medications used as migraine medications can also be used to prevent episodes of catamenial CVS. Common options include amitriptyline and parapropamol. Sometimes, triptans, medications used to treat active migraine episodes, are also an option to treat active catamenial CVS episodes.
- Antiseizure medications: Antiseizure medications such as topiramate, which is also sometimes used for migraine prevention, and phenobarbital are sometimes used to prevent episodes.
- Birth control: For some people, birth control or other hormonal treatment can help control catamenial CVS.
- Coenzyme Q10 and L-carnitine supplements: Some people report that these supplements help reduce nausea and vomiting. You don’t typically need a prescription to buy either supplement, but it’s a good idea to talk with a doctor before trying them.
- Antiemetics: Antiemetics are medications that can stop vomiting once an episode has started. They include medications such as ondansetron and granisetron.
- Intravenous (IV) fluids: IV fluids can help stop nausea during a severe CVS episode. They can also prevent dehydration.
Many people with catamenial CVS also use at-home management methods. This includes taking steps such as:
- Identifying triggers: Knowing triggers can help people avoid them or prepare for them.
- Personalizing your diet: Many foods are known to trigger CVS; learn more about what they are and how to avoid them here.
- Drinking sports drinks or juices: Sometimes, sports drinks and juices can help people rehydrate and calm nausea at home.
- Laying in a cool and dark place: Reducing light, sound, and stress can help lower the symptoms of CVS.
- Breathing exercise: Stress can be a trigger for catamenial CVS symptoms. Breathing exercises can sometimes help.
Catamenial CVS is a condition that causes episodes of nausea and vomiting. These episodes can last for hours or days. They can be severe. Some people with catamenial CVS might need to be hospitalized during episodes.
Catamenial CVS is linked to menstrual cycling. People with catamenial CVS might also have other CVS triggers, such as stress, certain foods, alcohol, infections, and motion sickness. The primary symptoms of catamenial CVS are nausea and vomiting, but it can also cause symptoms such as headache, abdomen pain, dizziness, light sensitivity, and dehydration.
Treatment depends on exact symptoms and severity, but often focuses on both preventing episodes and managing them when they occur. Often, the same medications that help prevent and control migraine can help people with catamenial CVS.
Sometimes, additional treatments, such as hormonal medications, Coenzyme Q10 and L-carnitine supplements, or IV fluids are also options.