While working at a local Madison pharmacy in the late 70s, Marla Ahlgrimm and one of her pharmacist colleagues identified a syndrome of symptoms that affected several of their female patients severely. These symptoms occurred regularly, every month from day 14 or ovulation, to day 28 or the onset of menstruation. At the time, there was no known cause or treatment options to successfully manage these symptoms. Although Ahlgrimm would eventually identify the symptoms as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), it would still be years before the term “PMS” became widely used in the United States. In the meantime, Marla Ahlgrimm co-founded Madison Pharmacy Associates in 1982, a Madison, Wisconsin based practice where they counseled women on health issues and dispensed customized, natural hormone prescriptions for women.
Madison Pharmacy Associates was the first pharmacy in America to identify and develop treatment options for premenstrual syndrome in the U.S., which is estimated to affect more than 40% of all women between the ages of 14 and 50. With over 150 symptoms reported, PMS includes irritability, anxiety, crying for no reason, cravings for sweets, fluid retention, headaches, depression, and fatigue. Using natural progesterone therapy, Madison Pharmacy Associates was able to help many patients and their doctors manage symptoms without the use of tranquilizers or antidepressants. Progesterone is the most commonly prescribed medication for PMS, according to Madison Pharmacy Associates’ Ahlgrimm. Madison Pharmacy Associates dispensed progesterone in capsule, tablet, suppository, and transdermal cream dosages, individually compounded for each patient.
In addition to customized hormone therapy, the expert staff at Madison Pharmacy Associates counseled patients on self care options including diet, exercise changes and the use of specific nutritional supplements that can make a difference in managing PMS. “65% of patients were able to manage severe symptoms with self care alone, without the need for prescription therapy” Madison Pharmacy Associates co-founder Marla Ahlgrimm says.
Madison Pharmacy Associates provided prescriptions to PMS sufferers throughout the country. Madison Pharmacy Associates offered toll-free 800 lines to field women’s health questions and help them find knowledgeable doctors to work with.
Madison Pharmacy Associates also provided PMS information and education to any women who called. “It created anonymity, which helps when you’re talking about the menstrual cycle or personal symptoms,” Madison Pharmacy Associates’ Ahlgrimm says.
Madison Pharmacy Associates grew from its original 700-square-foot pharmacy to 17,000 over 30 years but the mission of its co-founder to always put patients first remained the same. Over the years, Madison Pharmacy Associates has helped more than 300,000 women with symptoms related to premenstrual syndrome, perimenopause, and menopause.
The information in this article has been previously published and is provided as a reference resource by Marla Ahlgrimm, R.Ph. The businesses referenced above were sold in 2011. Marla Ahlgrimm is also the co-founder and President of Cyclin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The company sells proprietary products for the women’s health market as well as ProCycle PMS and ProCycle Gold products. For more information, go online to www.cyclinpharma.com