Pamprin vs Midol, Which OTC Menstrual Painkiller Is Best For PMS Cramps [2021]

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Medically reviewed by, Russell Braun RPH

Is there any woman that does not know what premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is? PMS affects almost all women at some point in their life. PMS is so common it is said to affect 90% of women, 43% have pain with every period!

Symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to two weeks. The collection of symptoms range across the physical and emotional spectrum. Consequently, the symptoms lead to a disruption of daily life that leaves many looking to self medicate with drugs sold Over The Counter (OTC).

Here are PMS signs & symptoms that may have women reaching for Pamprin or Midol.

Crying spellsSad or hopeless feelingIrritability
AnxietyDifficulty dealing with stressMood swings
Weight gainWater retentionBreast tenderness
Upset stomachBloatingConstipation
DiarrheaHostility and angerDifficulty concentrating
Impaired judgementIncreased fearsDifficulty sleeping
Excessive sleepingHunger cravingsIncreased sex drive
Decreased sex driveLight sensitivityLowered self image
AcneHeadacheJoint and muscle pain

Pamprin and Midol have long been marketed for this condition, so which one is better? In this post we will compare these medications to help you pick the best option for you.

However, no healthcare professional should jump right into medication without first reviewing a few basic non medication tips.

Lifestyle Will Affect PMS Symptoms?

Similar to most things in life, the choices you make can affect how severe your PMS symptoms are. In addition to helping with PMS symptoms, these lifestyle changes can make you healthier overall.


1. Drink plenty of fluids, 2.5 to 3 liters per day is optimal for an adult female.

  • Water or juices are best
  • Limit soft drinks
Healthy meal on plate

2. Eat small frequent meals

  • Instead of three large meals try to eat smaller meals every 3-4 hours.
  • Complex carbohydrates are key, these help feed the bacteria making up your microbiome in your intestines.
  • Limit salt intake to help prevent water retention.


1. Frequency

  • The Surgeon General physical activity guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week.

2. Intensity

  • Alternatively 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week can replace the 150 moderate minutes.
  • Higher intensity workouts for shorter durations have numerous health benefits.
Woman exercising with ropes

3. Benefits directly related to PMS

  • Increasing excercise has been shown to decrease PMS related depression and fatigue.
  • Endorphins released during exercise can help limit the amount of pain perceived during PMS.


1. Get 7-9 hours of sleep

  • Sleepfoundation.org recommends adults be in this range for optimal health.
  • Lack of sleep will make the symptoms of PMS worse.
  • Power naps earlier in the day are fine, but no long naps in late afternoon or evening.
Woman sleeping in bed


1. Don’t smoke

  • Numerous studies show that smoking can bring on and worsen PMS symptoms.
Cigarette burning

2. Avoid excessive drinking

  • Drinking in excess can increase the number and severity of PMS symptoms.

Pamprin vs. Midol comparing apples to apples

Pamprin and Midol are brand name products that have more than one active ingredient to help with PMS symptoms. In addition, they both have more than one formulation (different ingredients or different strengths).

Why is that important to you?

This is key because, comparing apples to apples will guide you to buying the right product for you. You may want to avoid one of the ingredients if you do not have symptoms it is used for. Also, it is important to know when you have a health condition where the ingredient(s) should be avoided.

Pamprin and Midol Products

The naming of these products often confuses women. Things like max strength or complete don’t exactly scream out what this product will do specifically. Both Pamprin and Midol contain one or all of the following ingredient classes of drug:

For headaches, stomach cramps and general aches associated with PMS.

For reducing irritability and to have a calming effect.

To relieve bloating and decrease swelling

Pamprin products

Pamprin Menstrual Pain Relief Maximum Strength Multi-Symptom, 40 CapletsPamprin Pamprin Maximum Strength Pain Releif Caplets, 24 each (Pack of 3)
Pamprin MultisymptomPamprin Max Formula
Acetaminophen 500mg – Pamabrom 25mg – Pyrilamine 15mgAcetaminophen 250mg – Aspirin 250mg – Caffeine 65mg

Pamprin Multi-Symptom

This contains the pain reliever acetaminophen, the antihistamine pyrilamine and a diuretic pamabrom. The dosage that is recommended per the manufacturer is 2 caplets every 6 hours as needed.


  • Three ingredients in one caplet is easy to take.
  • Claims to treat more symptoms (cramps, headache, backache, irritability, bloating)
  • May help with sleeping due to the antihistamine effects.
  • Antihistamines may also help with allergy symptoms.


  • Taking 2 tablets every 6 hours as needed puts you at the maximum daily dose for acetaminophen per day (4000mg). Any other product with acetaminophen or any alcohol would be a problem for your liver.
  • May cause daytime drowsiness, a side effect of the antihistamine.
  • Antihistamines can cause side effects such as dry mouth, dry eyes and constipation.
  • Can increase trips to the bathroom due to the diuretic effect.
  • Use caution with other drinks containing high amounts of caffeine. Those plus the diuretic could lead to dehydration.


  • 40 caplets cost ~$7.54 which is $0.19 per caplet, or $0.38 per dose.**
  • Buying the individual ingredients may be a cheaper option.
  • Individual ingredients are available generically and can be bought in bulk.

**Prices subject to change.

Pamprin Max Formula

This contains two pain relievers acetaminophen & aspirin, as well as a caffeine a diuretic. The dosage that is recommended per the manufacturer is 2 caplets every 6 hours as needed.


  • Taking three ingredients in one caplet is easy and convenient.
  • The lower dose of acetaminophen decreases the chances of liver problems if taken every six hours around the clock.
  • Aspirin is an NSAID pain reliever. NSAIDs have been shown to be very effective at treating menstraul cramping due to the effect they exert on prostaglandins.
  • Caffeine acts as a stimulant which if taken during the day can help with fatigue and drowsiness.


  • Aspirin can interact with other blood thinning medications. You should consult with your doctor or pharmacist before starting aspirin containing products.
  • Aspirin can upset the stomach and in some cases cause ulcers when taken for more than a few days.
  • The amount of caffeine in Pamprim Max Formula is equivalent to a cup of coffee. Avoid taking this for a few hours before bedtime to avoid insomnia.


  • 24 caplets cost ~$10.78 which is $0.45 per caplet, or $0.90 per dose.**
  • This is more costly than Pamprin Multi-Symptom or individual ingredients bought generically.

**Prices subject to change.

Is Pamprin good for menstral cramps?

Both Pamprin products contain pain relievers. However, the Pamrin Max Formula contains aspirin, which would be more likely to relive pain from cramping than acetaminophen.

How does Pamprin help with irritablity?

Irritability can stem from feeling tired, excessive pain from cramping or emotional distress caused by PMS. That said, Pamprin Multi-Symptom has an antihistamine, which may help calm you down. This could make Multi-Symptoms better than Max Formula for helping with irritability. However, this could vary from woman to woman.

Midol products

Midol Complete, with Acetaminophen, Menstrual Period Symptoms Relief Including Premenstrual Cramps, Pain, Headache, and Bloating, Gelcaps, 24 Count (Packaging May Vary)Midol Long Lasting Relief, with Acetaminophen, Pain Reliever & Fever Reducer, Menstrual Period Pain Symptoms, 20 CountMidol Caffeine Free Menstrual Pain Relief Caplets with Acetaminophen for Menstrual Symptom Relief - 24 Count, Packaging Ma...
Midol CompleteMidol Long Lasting ReliefMidol Caffeine Free
Acetaminophen 500mg –
Caffeine 60mg – Pyrilamine 15mg
Acetaminophen 650mgAcetaminophen 500mg – Pamabrom 25mg

Midol Complete

This contains the pain reliever acetaminophen, the diuretic caffeine and an antihistamine pyrilamine. The dosage that is recommended per the manufacturer is 2 caplets every 6 hours as needed.


  • The dosage of acetaminophen is high enough that it should provide some pain relief.
  • The manufacturer recommends no more than 6 caplets per day, which limits the total daily acetaminophen to 3000mg per day. This amount is less likely to cause any potential liver problems.
  • Since the diuretic is caffeine, it is also a stimulant and can provide relief from fatigue.
  • The antihistamine could provide relief from allergy problems.


  • May cause daytime drowsiness, a side effect of the antihistamine.
  • Antihistamines can cause side effects such as dry mouth, dry eyes and constipation.
  • Could cause insomnia from caffeine being a stimulant and diuretic.
  • Use caution with other food or drinks containing high amounts of caffeine. Midol Complete contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.


  • 24 gelcaps cost ~$4.99 which is $0.21 each, or $0.42 per dose.**
  • This is $0.04 more costly per dose than Pamprin Multi-Symptom, which contains similar ingredients.

**Prices subject to change.

Midol Long Lasting Relief

This contains the pain relievers acetaminophen. The dosage that is recommended per the manufacturer is 2 caplets every 8 hours.


The higher dosage of acetaminophen is high enough that it should provide some pain relief.


  • A slightly higher dose of acetaminophen doesn’t really mean this will have a much longer duration of effect like the name implies.
  • With only a single ingredient, it is not likely to treat multiple symptoms.


  • 20 caplets cost ~$5.99 which is $0.30 per caplet, or $0.60 per dose.**
  • Using Midol Long Lasting does not make much sense given its higher cost for only one ingredient. Acetaminophen can be bought generically for much less and should be you choice over Midol Long Lasting.

**Prices subject to change.

Midol Caffeine Free

This contains the pain relievers acetaminophen, as well as a pamabrom a diuretic. The dosage that is recommended per the manufacturer is 2 caplets every 6 hours as needed.


  • The diuretic pamabrom does not cause stimulation like caffeine. Therefore, patients may have relief from bloating and swelling without anxiety or jitteriness.
  • The manufacturer recommends no more than 6 caplets per day, which limits the total daily acetaminophen to 3000mg per day. This amount is less likely to cause any potential liver problems.


  • If taken before bedtime, could cause frequent trips to the bathroom due to the diuretic effect.


  • 24 caplets cost ~$5.99 which is $0.25 per caplet, or $0.50 per dose.**
  • This is less costly than Pamprin Max Formula, which is similar based on the ingredients. However, Pamprin Max Formula does have aspirin included which is another pain reliever.

**Prices subject to change.

What makes Midol different?

Midol Complete contains caffeine vs Pamprin Multi-Symptom does not. If you are someone who reacts well to caffeine in other products then Midol may be the better choice for you.

Midol Long Lasting really has no reason to be used, when you could easily just buy acetaminophen instead.

Midol Caffeine Free is comparable to Pamprin Max Formula. If you want to avoid caffeine, then Midol is cheaper and does not contain aspirin. The addition of aspirin in the Pamprin Max Formula may provide more pain relief if that is your chief symptom.

Can you take Pamprin and Midol together?

Both of these products contain similar ingredients. In cases where they contain different ingredients they are the same class of drugs. That means they produce the same effects. Therefore, there would be no benefit to taking both together or alternating them.

Key Points For Pamprin Vs Midol

  • These product are only to be taken for a short timeframe unless supervised by a doctor.
  • If symptoms get worse, or new symptoms appear, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Talk to your pharmacist before taking other Over The Counter Medications.
  • If you take a blood thinning medication ask your doctor before using these products.
  • Avoid other products that have acetaminophen (APAP) in them.
  • Prescription medications may contain acetaminophen as well.
  • Taking too much acetaminophen can result in liver failure and or death!
  • Avoid drinking alcohol if taking these medications, look for NSAID options instead.

Babies and Breastmilk

Don’t use these medications if you are pregnant or could be pregnant. Your doctor may allow you to use them, but they should always be consulted in this situation.

It is also important to remember that acetaminophen, pamabrom and pyrilamine pass into breastmilk. Therefore, breastmilk should be discarded while taking these medications or they should be avoided while breastfeeding.

Pamprin and Midol are great, but what else works?

Reading reviews from online sights or forums about medications for PMS is one way to get your information. A better way is to listen to recommendations from reputable and authoritative organizations.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG) is that organization when it comes to medication for PMS. They recommend NSAIDs as the best treatment for PMS cramps and lightening heavy menstrual bleeding.


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This is great news!

Not only are NSAIDs effective they are less costly than Pamprin or Midol because they are available as generics. The table below lists the most common over the counter NSAIDs to choose from.

IbuprofenTake with food.
NaproxenTake with food.
Lasts longer than Ibuprofen.
AspirinMore risk of stomach upset.
Don’t use if taking blood thinners.

Oral contraceptives can reduce the symptoms of PMS. These are prescription only products so you must see your doctor to obtain these medications. If PMS is a recurring problem then looking at oral or other types of contraceptives can be very effective.

Finally, a long time proven remedy for cramp is the application of heat. Heating pads or heat wraps can be used in addition to medications and offers a solution that many women love. Examples of heating pads or wraps are listed below.

Sunbeam Heating Pad Back Wrap with Adjustable Strap | Contoured for Back Pain Relief | 4 Heat Settings with 2 Hour Auto Off | 23 x 15 Inch, Slate Grey
Heating wrap

MIGHTY BLISS™ Large Electric Heating Pad for Back Pain and Cramps Relief -Extra Large [12"x24"] - Auto Shut Off - Heat Pad with Moist & Dry Heat Therapy Options - Hot Heated Pad
Heating pad

In Conclusion

Pamprin and Midol both make products that are similar. The ingredients overlap, so the only real differences are how to you feel about caffeine and if antihistamines help reduce irritability for you?

Final verdict

1. Use Heat & NSAIDs if cramps are your main problem and for relief at bedtime.

2. Pamprin Max Formula during the day if caffiene does not bother you.

3. Midol caffeine free during the day if caffeine causes anxiety or jitteriness.

Click here to get Dr. Jason Reed’s exclusive list of medication questions you MUST ask your doctor, for FREE!

Share your story

Have you used Pamprin or Midol? Also, please share how they worked for you. Chime in below with your comments and thoughts.

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