How to Take Progesterone
When going through IVF and other fertility treatments, it can be overwhelming and confusing to keep track of all your fertility drugs. It can be hard to remember what each medication is, and what each medicine does. We review some of the more common fertility drugs to help you understand why you take each medicine and how it can help you get pregnant. In this article, Attain Fertility and the American Fertility Association discuss how to take progesterone.
What is progesterone?
After ovulation, during the latter half of your menstrual cycle, your body releases a hormone called progesterone. This hormone helps to sustain a pregnancy after your egg is fertilized.
If you or your doctor suspects that you have a progesterone deficiency, you may be prescribed a progesterone supplement. This fertility medication can boost progesterone levels in your body. This medicine can also help to thicken your uterine lining and support a pregnancy.
How do I take progesterone?
Your doctor may recommend that you take progesterone during the luteal phase (latter part) of assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles.
Different methods of progesterone supplementation include injection (shots) or inserting into your vagina. Here are detailed examples of each method.
Progesterone injections are given in the buttocks with a syringe and needle. These shots are usually given once daily. This usually results in high levels of progesterone in your blood.
Progesterone gels, tablets and suppositories
Other ways to take progesterone include vaginal insertion of a gel, a tablet, or a suppository from one to three times daily. There is usually no pain with vaginal progesterone. However, this method requires more frequent use and can cause vaginal discharge.
Types of vaginal progesterone:
Vaginal gel. Vaginal gel is available in prefilled applicators. The vaginal gel coats the walls of the vagina. This results in a controlled, steady release of progesterone. The vaginal gel is used once daily with an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure. Vaginal progesterone gel is approved by the FDA for use with ART and for up to twelve weeks of pregnancy.
The gel is also approved for progesterone replacement in donor egg recipients and with frozen embryo transfers. It is used twice daily with both procedures.
Vaginal suppositories. Specialized fertility pharmacies often produce vaginal progesterone suppositories. These suppositories are placed into the vagina two or three times a day. Over time, the suppositories dissolve. Vaginal suppositories are safe and effective, yet the FDA has not approved these for fertility treatment.
Vaginal tablets or inserts. Vaginal tablets are FDA-approved for women who need progesterone supplementation. The tablets are inserted into the vagina two or three times daily using a disposable applicator.
Progesterone capsules (used vaginally). Sometimes doctors prescribe progesterone capsules for vaginal use. Vaginal progesterone capsules have several benefits. They prevent unwanted side effects compared to oral formulas. Also, vaginal capsules are often better absorbed. Oral progesterone capsules for vaginal use are not approved by the FDA.
Oral progesterone capsules. Oral progesterone supplementation is considered less effective than other methods for women undergoing ART procedures. Oral progesterone can result in side effects such as nausea, bloating, drowsiness and irritability.
Progesterone in oil: shots or injections. The original method for injecting progesterone during fertility treatments is in an oil-based solution. Progesterone in oil may be injected directly into a muscle (usually in the buttocks) once a day. This method is considered highly beneficial for IVF. Side effects may include allergic reactions, inflammation and pain at the site of injection. Some women that use this method have difficulty walking or sitting.
Progesterone side effects
Progesterone side effects may include lethargy, mood swings, depression, and/or breast soreness. Progesterone may cause pain or irritation at the site of the injection when given intramuscularly. Or, it may cause irritation of the vagina when given intravaginally.
Keep reading to learn more about how progesterone supplements can help you conceive.
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