The Benefits and Side Effects of Progesterone
- Why is this progesterone prescribed?
- How should progesterone be used?
- Other uses for progesterone
- What precautions should I follow?
- What dietary instructions should I follow?
- If I forget to take my prescribed dose?
- What are the possible side effects of progesterone?
- What storage conditions are needed for progesterone?
- In case of emergency/overdose
- What other information should I know?
- Progesterone brand names
Why Is Progesterone Prescribed?
Progesterone is in a class of medications called progestins (female hormones). Progesterone is used as a part of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in women who have passed menopause (the change of life) and have not had a hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus). Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) usually includes estrogen, which is used to treat the symptoms of menopause and reduce the risk of developing certain diseases. Estrogen however, can also cause abnormal thickening of the lining of the uterus and increase the risk of developing uterine cancer. Progesterone helps to prevent this thickening, thereby decreasing the risk of developing uterine cancer. Progesterone is also used to bring on menstruation (period) in women of childbearing age who have had normal periods and then stopped menstruating. It works as part of hormone replacement therapy by decreasing the amount of estrogen in the uterus. It works to bring on menstruation by replacing the natural progesterone that some women are missing. Progesterone should not be confused with progestins, which are synthetically produced progestogens.
How Should Progesterone Be Used Safely?
Progesterone comes as a capsule to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day in the evening or at bedtime. You will probably take progesterone on a rotating schedule that alternates 10-12 days when you take progesterone with 16-18 days when you do not take the medication. Your doctor will tell you exactly when to take progesterone. To help you remember to take progesterone, take it around the same time in the evening. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take progesterone exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Continue to take progesterone as directed even if you feel well. Do not stop taking progesterone without talking to your doctor.
Progesterone - Other Uses
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What Special Precautions Should I Follow?
Before taking progesterone:
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to progesterone, oral contraceptives (birth control pills), hormone replacement therapy, any other medications, or peanuts.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, and nutritional supplements you are taking. Be sure to mention any of the following: amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone); antifungals such as fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), and ketoconazole (Nizoral); cimetidine (Tagamet); clarithromycin (Biaxin); cyclosporine (Neoral, Samdimmune); danazol (Danocrine); delaviridine (Rescriptor); diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac); erythromycin (E.E.S, E-Mycin, Erythrocin); fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem); fluvoxamine (Luvox); HIV protease inhibitors such as indinavir (Crixivan), ritonavir (Norvir), and saquinavir (Fortovase); isoniazid (INH, Nydrazid); lansoprazole (Prevacid, Prevpac); metronidazole (Flagyl); nefazodone (Serzone); omeprazole (Prilosec); oral contraceptives (birth control pills); ticlopidine (Ticlid); troleandomycin (TAO); verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan); and zafirlukast (Accolate). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- Tell your doctor what herbal products you are taking, especially St. John's wort.
- Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had unexplained vaginal bleeding between periods; a miscarriage in which some tissue was left in the uterus; cancer of the breasts or female organs; seizures; migraine headaches; asthma; diabetes; depression; blood clots in the legs, lungs, eyes, brain, or anywhere in the body; stroke or ministroke; vision problems; or liver, kidney, heart, or gallbladder disease .
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking progesterone, call your doctor.
- If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking progesterone.
- You should know that progesterone may make you dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how progesterone affects you. If progesterone does make you dizzy or drowsy, take your daily dose at bedtime.
- You should know that progesterone may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting when you get up too quickly from a lying position. This is more common when you first start taking progesterone. To avoid this problem, get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up.
Special Dietary Instructions When Taking Progesterone?
Talk to your doctor about drinking grapefruit juice while taking progesterone.
If I Forget To Take My Prescribed Dose of Progesterone?
Take the missed dose of progesterone as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose of progesterone to make up for a missed one.
Progesterone Side Effects?
Progesterone may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- breast tenderness or pain
- upset stomach
- muscle, joint, or bone pain
- mood swings
- excessive worrying
- runny nose
- vaginal discharge
- problems urinating
Some side effects can be serious. The following symptoms are uncommon, but if you experience any of them, call your doctor immediately:
- breast lumps
- migraine headache
- severe dizziness or faintness
- slow or difficult speech
- weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
- lack of coordination or loss of balance
- shortness of breath
- fast heartbeat
- sharp chest pain
- coughing up blood
- leg swelling or pain
- loss of vision or blurred vision
- bulging eyes
- double vision
- unexpected vaginal bleeding
- shaking hands that you cannot control
- stomach pain or swelling
- skin rash
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
Laboratory animals who were given progesterone developed tumors. It is not known if progesterone increases the risk of tumors in humans. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking progesterone.
Medications like progesterone may cause abnormal blood clotting. This may cut off the blood supply to the brain, heart, lungs, or eyes and cause serious problems. Call your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms listed above as serious side effects. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking progesterone.
Progesterone may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking progesterone.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online
www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm, or by phone 1-800-332-1088
What Storage Conditions Are Needed For Progesterone?
Keep progesterone in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of emergency/overdose
In Case of an Progesterone Overdose
Call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
What Other Information Should I Know About Progesterone?
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Before having any laboratory test or biopsy (removal of tissue for testing), tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are taking progesterone.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
Progeterone Brand Names
Hormones and Menopause Women's health tips from the National Institute on Aging
Menopause & Hormone Therapy: Menopause treatments and talking to your doctor by WomensHealth.gov, the federal government source for women's health.
Menopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy and Cancer Risk The American Cancer Society discusses how hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can affect a woman's risk of getting certain cancers.
MEDLINEplus Health Encyclopedia - Menopause A.D.A.M. / National Library of Medicine www.nlm.nih.gov
Menopause Symptoms Mayo clinic www.mayoclinic.com
Menopause Symptoms Emedicine.com www.emedicinehealth.com
What are the symptoms of menopause and their treatments? Univ Maryland www.umm.edu
Menopause Self-help Guide National Health Service, NHS Direct online United Kingdom www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk
Menopause Symptoms Aetna InteliHealth / Harvard Medical School www.intelihealth.com
Last Revised - 07/01/2004
Reviewed by Wendy Wells January 2013
Life-stages, perimenopause, treatment safety, bio-identical hormones, progesterone cream, and estriol lotion.