What other names is Progesterone known by?
Corpus Luteum Hormone, Hormone de Grossesse, Hormone du Corps Jaune, Hormone Lutéale, Hormone Progestative, Luteal Hormone, Luteohormone, Lutine, NSC-9704, Pregnancy Hormone, Pregnanedione, Prégnanedione, Progestational Hormone, Progesterona, Progestérone, Progesteronum, 4-Pregnene-3; 20-Dione.
What is Progesterone?
is a hormone that occurs naturally in the body. It can also be made in a laboratory.
"Progestin" is a general term for a substance that causes some or all of the biologic effects of progesterone. The term "progestin" is sometimes used to refer to the progesterone made in the laboratory that is in oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy. However, all progesterone and progestin products are made in the laboratory. The term "natural progesterone" is really a misnomer. "Natural progesterones," including the prescription products Crinone
, are made from a chemical called diosgenin that is isolated from wild yam
or soy. In the laboratory, this constituent is converted to pregnenolone and then to progesterone. The human body
is not able to make progesterone from diosgenin, so eating wild yam or soy will not boost your progesterone levels.
Over-the-counter (OTC) progesterone products may not contain progesterone concentrations as labeled. According to a British report, two-ounce jars of Progest cream used in a clinical trial contained 100 mg progesterone per ounce rather than the 465 mg claimed by the manufacturer.
Topical progesterone products (preparations applied to the skin) marketed as cosmetics
require no FDA approval prior to marketing. There is currently no limit on the amount of progesterone allowed in cosmetic products. In 1993 the FDA proposed a rule limiting progesterone-containing cosmetic products to a maximum level of 5 mg/oz with the product label instructing users not to exceed 2 oz per month. But this rule was never finalized.
Women take progesterone by mouth for inducing menstrual periods; and treating abnormal uterine bleeding
associated with hormonal imbalance, and severe symptoms of premenstrual syndrome
). Progesterone is also used in combination with the hormone estrogen to "oppose estrogen" as part of hormone replacement therapy. If estrogen is given without progesterone, estrogen increases the risk of uterine cancer
Progesterone is also used to ease withdrawal symptoms when certain drugs (benzodiazepines) are discontinued.
Progesterone cream is sometimes used in hormone replacement therapy and for treating menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes
. Topical progesterone is also used for treating or preventing certain allergies
in which hormones play a role; and for treating bloating
tenderness, decreased sex drive, depression
, lumpy (fibrocystic) breasts, headaches
, low blood sugar
, increased blood clotting, infertility
, irritability, memory loss, miscarriages, brittle bones (osteoporosis
), bone loss
in younger women, symptoms of PMS
, thyroid problems
, "foggy thinking," uterine cancer
, uterine fibroids
, water retention, weight gain, and vaginal irritation (vulval lichen sclerosis).
Progesterone gel is sometimes used inside the vagina to expand the cervix
(cervical ripening), treat breast pain
in women with noncancerous breast disease, and to prevent and treat abnormal thickening of the lining of the uterus (endometrial hyperplasia).
Progesterone is also used intravaginally or by injection for treating infertility
and symptoms of (PMS).
Likely Effective for...
- Absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea). Taking progesterone by mouth and applying progesterone gel into the vagina are effective strategies for treating absence of menstrual periods in premenopausal women. Micronized progesterone is FDA-approved for this use, as is intravaginal progesterone gel (Crinone 4%).
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Micronized progesterone (Prometrium) is FDA-approved for use with estrogen as a component of HRT. Research shows that adding progesterone to HRT protects against side effects of estrogen.
- Infertility. Intravaginal progesterone gel (Crinone 8%) is FDA-approved for use as a part of infertility treatment in women. Some research suggests that applying progesterone intravaginally and injecting it into the muscle may have similar effectiveness for increasing pregnancy rates as giving it by mouth. Also, research suggests that intravaginal progesterone seems to be as effective for pregnancy rates as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).
Possibly Effective for...
- Abnormal thickening of the endometrium (endometrial hyperplasia). Some research suggests that applying progesterone (Crinone) into the vagina prevents endometrial hyperplasia in women with an intact uterus that are taking estrogen replacement therapy. Other early research shows that a specific intravaginal progesterone cream may help reverse abnormal thickening of the endometrium and decrease vaginal bleeding in premenopausal women with non-cancerous endometrial hyperplasia.
- Breast pain (mastodynia). Some research suggests that applying progesterone (Crinone) into the vagina seems to reduce breast pain and tenderness in women with non-cancerous breast disease.
- Menopausal symptoms. Some research suggests that applying a specific progesterone cream (Progest) to the skin reduces symptoms such as hot flashes in menopausal women.
- Premature labor. Some research suggests that applying progesterone gel into the vagina, alone or along with therapy to delay labor (tocolytic therapy), reduces the risk of premature delivery in women at high risk of premature birth. However, other research suggests that intravaginal progesterone gel does not decrease the frequency of premature birth in women with a history of premature birth.
Possibly Ineffective for...
- Withdrawal symptoms from drugs such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), temazepam (Restoril), and others. Some research suggests that taking micronized progesterone by mouth may not be effective for relieving symptoms of withdrawal and for helping people to abstain from taking diazepam.
- Miscarriage. Most research suggests that applying progesterone into the vagina does not reduce the risk of having a miscarriage during the first trimester in women at high risk for miscarriage. Also, injecting progesterone and another steroid hormone into the muscle after undergoing a test used to diagnose birth defects (called an amniocentesis) does not seem to reduce the risk of miscarriage or preterm delivery.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Although some clinical research suggests that applying progesterone into the vagina or the rectum before menstruation reduces symptoms of PMS, most evidence shows that giving progesterone by mouth or rectally does not reduce PMS symptoms.
- Vaginal irritation (vulval lichen sclerosis). Applying progesterone into the vagina does not seem to improve symptoms of vulval lichen sclerosis. In fact, progesterone seems to be less effective than clobetasol (Temovate) for treating this condition.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Heart disease. Early research suggests that applying progesterone into the vagina may increase exercise endurance compared to taking a similar steroidal drug (medroxyprogesterone) by mouth in women with heart disease or women that previously experienced a heart attack.
- Cocaine dependence. Early research suggests that taking progesterone by mouth does not decrease the risk of cocaine use in methadone-stabilized male cocaine users.
- Preventing bone loss (osteoporosis). Some research suggests that applying progesterone to the skin is not effective for increasing bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Other research shows that applying progesterone to the skin for 2 years may be as effective for preventing bone loss as drinking isoflavone-containing soy milk. However, the combination of soy milk plus progesterone seems to result greater bone loss than either single treatment alone.
- Depression after childbirth (postpartum). Early research suggests that applying progesterone into the rectum does not reduce symptoms of postpartum depression.
- High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia). Early research suggests that single injections of progesterone reduce blood pressure, swelling, and other symptoms in women with pre-eclampsia.
- Treating or preventing allergies affected by hormones.
- Decreased sex drive.
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
- Increased blood clotting.
- Memory loss.
- Thyroid problems.
- "Foggy thinking".
- Uterine cancer.
- Uterine fibroids.
- Water retention.
- Weight gain.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of progesterone for these uses.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).