Progesterone is a natural female hormone. It’s called “the pregnancy hormone,” and is essential before and during pregnancy.
Progesterone supplementation is often necessary during Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedures, such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) because the medications you may use during these procedures can suppress your body’s ability to produce progesterone. Certain procedures can even remove progesterone-producing cells from your ovaries.
Sometimes, there are other reasons to use progesterone supplementation, such as little or no progesterone production from the ovaries or poorly developed follicles that do not secrete enough progesterone to develop the uterine lining.
The bottom line is this — all women who wish to become pregnant need progesterone to help the uterus prepare for and maintain a fertilized egg.
Two Reasons You Need Progesterone Before and During Pregnancy
- Progesterone prepares the uterus for pregnancy. After ovulation occurs, the ovaries start to produce progesterone needed by the uterus.
- Progesterone causes the uterine lining to thicken, helping to prepare a supportive environment in your uterus for a fertilized egg. After 8 to 10 weeks of pregnancy, the placenta takes over progesterone production from the ovaries and substantially increases progesterone production.
Several types of progesterone are available, including vaginal products that deliver progesterone directly to the uterus. Here are different forms:
- Used once a day for progesterone supplementation
- Unique — the only once-daily FDA-approved progesterone for ART for up to 12 weeks of pregnancy
- The only FDA-approved progesterone for replacement for donor egg recipients and frozen embryo transfers
- Over a decade of experience and over 40 million doses prescribed
- In studies where patient preference was measured, a majority of women preferred the gel for comfort and convenience over other progesterone formulations
- Some discharge reported during use
- Compounded at specialty pharmacists
- Widely used but not FDA-approved
- Used 2 to 3 times a day
- Leakage can be messy
- Designed for vaginal use
- FDA-approved for progesterone supplementation but not for progesterone replacement
- Effective in women under 35 years; no established results in women over 35 years
- Used 2 to 3 times a day
Progesterone oral capsules, used vaginally:
- Not formulated or FDA-approved for vaginal use
- Fewer side effects when capsules are used vaginally instead of orally
- Used up to 3 times a day
- An oil-based solution (sometimes called progesterone in oil)
- Widely used; the oldest, most established method of progesterone delivery
- Injected into the buttocks once a day
- Require long, thick needle to penetrate layers of skin and fat
- Difficult to administer by yourself
- Injections may be painful
- Skin reactions are common
Source: Columbia Laboratories