Progesterone

background

Progesterone is a steroid hormone produced in the ovaries, placenta (during pregnancy), and adrenal glands, and it is involved in the female menstrual cycle, the maintenance of pregnancy, and embryogenesis (the formation and development of a baby).
Progesterone levels are relatively low before ovulation, rise after ovulation, and are elevated during the luteal phase, which is the phase of the menstrual cycle that starts at ovulation and ends the day before menstruation. Progesterone testing is done to help find causes of infertility, to determine ovulation, to assess the risk of miscarriage, to monitor the function of the ovaries and placenta during pregnancy, and to help diagnose problems of the adrenal glands and some types of cancer.
Estrogen, another hormone, and progesterone work together in the body. Estrogen and progesterone combinations are commonly used in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in postmenopausal women.
Progesterone may benefit women with menorrhagia (abnormally heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding) and may serve as a treatment for premature birth prevention. Progesterone is also often used as a conception aid.
Progesterone has been examined for its effects in a variety of conditions, including breast pain, cognitive performance, endometriosis (condition in which uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus), menopausal symptoms, pre-eclampsia, and premenstrual syndrome. However, strong evidence is currently lacking.

Related Terms

17-Alpha-hydroxyprogesterone, 17-alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17P), 17-alpha-OHP-C, allopregnanolone, bioidentical hormone therapy (BHT), Colirest™, Crinone®, cyclic medroxyprogesterone acetate, Cycrin®, danazol, depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), dienogest, Dioscorea mexicana, diosgenin, drospirenone, dydrogesterone, Esolut®, Hematrol™, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), hormone therapy, intramuscular progesterone, luteal phase support, medroxyprogesterone, medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), megestrol, micronized progesterone, micronized transvaginal progesterone, Nestorone®, nomegestrol acetate, norethisterone, oral micronized progesterone (MP), ORG-2154, P4, pregn-4-ene-3,20-dione, PremPro®, Pro-gest®, progestagen, progesterone receptor, progesterone vaginal cream, progesterone-only contraceptive pill (POCP), progestins, progestogen, Prontogest®, Provera®, steroid hormone, transdermal progesterone, transdermal progesterone cream, trimegestone, Utrogest®, Utrogestan®, vaginal progesterone, yams.
Note: This monograph focuses on progesterone and not other members of the progestogen family, such as synthetic progestogens or metabolites.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
 
Alzheimer's disease (Grade: C)
The benefits of progesterone may be due to its inclusion with estrogen in typical hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The effects of progesterone alone for Alzheimer's disease have not been determined. Further research is required.
Birth control (Grade: C)
Progesterone-only birth control pills are a common contraceptive method for breastfeeding mothers. However, very limited clinical evidence is available for this indication.
Bone density improvement (Grade: C)
Progesterone may play a role in bone health, which is particularly important for postmenopausal women undergoing HRT. However, its long-term effect is unknown. Further research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Breast pain (mastalgia) (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that topical progesterone may relieve breast pain. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Cocaine dependence (Grade: C)
Progesterone may decrease cocaine use and reduce the "high" associated with cocaine use. More evidence is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Cognitive performance (Grade: C)
Some studies suggest that progesterone may enhance cognitive performance. More well-designed trials are needed in this area.
Drug addiction (benzodiazepines) (Grade: C)
Limited research failed to find effects of progesterone on benzodiazepine dependence. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Endometriosis (Grade: C)
Progesterone may help relieve painful symptoms associated with endometriosis (condition in which uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus). More well-designed trials are needed.
Fertility (conception aid) (Grade: C)
Progesterone may improve egg implantation and pregnancy rates. Studies have compared different types of progesterone, the effects of progesterone with another hormone, or progesterone vs. no treatment. More studies are needed before conclusions can be drawn.
Food cravings (prior to menstruation) (Grade: C)
Limited research failed to find effects of progesterone on chocolate or sweets cravings before menstruation. More well-designed trials are needed in this area.
High cholesterol (Grade: C)
Limited studies suggest that progesterone combined with estrogen may lower cholesterol in menopausal women. However, the benefits of progesterone alone are not yet determined. More evidence is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Infant mortality (preterm infants) (Grade: C)
Progesterone combined with estrogen may improve the health outcome of preterm infants. However, the benefits of progesterone alone are not yet determined. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Memory enhancement (in healthy people) (Grade: C)
Limited research suggests that progesterone may impair memory function. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Menopausal symptoms (hot flashes) (Grade: C)
The benefits of progesterone on menopausal hot flashes are unclear. More well-designed trials are needed.
Menopausal symptoms (oral) (Grade: C)
Progesterone in combination with estrogen may exert beneficial effects on symptoms of the oral mucosa associated with menopause. More well-designed trials examining the effect of progesterone alone are needed in this area.
Menopausal symptoms (sleep) (Grade: C)
The benefits of progesterone on lack of sleep associated with menopause are unclear. More well-designed trials are needed.
Menopause (quality of life) (Grade: C)
The benefits of progesterone on quality of life during menopause are unclear. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding) (Grade: C)
Limited research suggests that progestogen use may decrease menstrual blood loss in women with menorrhagia. However, the effect of progesterone is unclear. Further research is required before firm conclusions can be drawn.
Miscarriage (prevention) (Grade: C)
Progesterone may protect against miscarriage. More well-designed trials are needed.
Mood and cognition in post-menopausal women (Grade: C)
The effects of progesterone use as part of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on postmenopausal mood and cognition have been studied. More well-designed trials examining the effect of progesterone alone are needed in this area.
Mood disorders (Grade: C)
There is a lack of evidence to support progesterone use for mood disorders. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Parkinson's disease (Grade: C)
Progestogen combined with estrogen may improve symptoms of Parkinson's disease in women. However, the effects of progesterone alone are currently unknown. Further research is needed.
Postpartum problems (psychiatric) (Grade: C)
The benefits of progesterone for psychiatric postpartum problems have not yet been determined. More evidence is needed in this area.
Pre-eclampsia (Grade: C)
Limited research suggests that progesterone use may prevent pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy). More well-designed trials are needed.
Premature birth prevention (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that treatment with progesterone and the natural progestogen 17alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17P) during pregnancy may prevent premature birth. However, further research is required.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (Grade: C)
There is a lack of evidence for progesterone use for premenstrual dysmorphic disorder. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Premenstrual syndrome (Grade: C)
There is conflicting evidence on the benefits of progesterone use for premenstrual syndrome. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Psychosis (hormone-related) (Grade: C)
There is a lack of scientific evidence to support progesterone use for hormone-related psychosis. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Schizophrenia (Grade: C)
There is a lack of scientific evidence to support progesterone use for schizophrenia. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Sleep apnea (Grade: C)
There is a lack of scientific evidence to support the use of progesterone for sleep apnea. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Stress (Grade: C)
There is a lack of scientific evidence to support the use of progesterone for stress. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Supplementation in preterm and very low birthweight infants (Grade: C)
Limited research suggests that supplementation of preterm infants with estradiol and progesterone can help maintain intrauterine concentrations of these hormones. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion can be made.