Does your doctor suspect that you suffer from a progesterone deficiency? Your doctor may prescribe progesterone supplements to help your body to sustain a pregnancy. Studies find that progesterone supplementation can help women become, and stay, pregnant.

What is progesterone?
Progesterone is a hormone that is released after ovulation during the latter phase of your menstrual cycle.  This hormone helps keep a pregnancy after eggs are fertilized.

A progesterone supplement is given to help boost progesterone levels in your body if your doctor suspects you may have a deficiency.  This medicine also helps thicken your uterine lining, which will ultimately help support pregnancy full-term.

How do I take progesterone?
Progesterone may be taken during the latter phase (luteal) of assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles. There are different methods of progesterone application, including an injection, or inserting through the vagina.

Progesterone Injections
Injections of progesterone are inserted through the buttocks with a needle and syringe.  Shots are given once a day, and this will cause high levels of progesterone in your blood.

Progesterone Gels, Tablets and Suppositories
Some other methods of taking progesterone are a vaginal gel, tablet or suppository.  These can be taken one to three times daily.  Pain is uncommon when inserting progesterone vaginally.  Due to the frequent use, vaginal progesterone may cause discharge.

Types of Vaginal Progesterone:

  • Vaginal gel.  The gel comes in a pre-filled applicator. To create a steady, controlled release of the progesterone, the walls of the vagina are coated in gel. The gel is applied once daily through an In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedure.  This gel is FDA-approved and can be used through 12 weeks of pregnancy with ART.  The vaginal gel can also be placed in donor egg recipients as a progesterone replacement with a frozen embryo transfer.  In both procedures, the gel is used twice daily.
  • Vaginal suppositoriesFertility pharmacies are able to provide vaginal progesterone suppositories.  The vaginal suppositories are inserted vaginally two to three times daily. Eventually, the suppositories dissolve. Although these have not yet been FDA-approved, they are safe and effective for those undergoing fertility treatment.
  • Vaginal tablets or inserts. Vaginal tablets or inserted are used for women who have a progesterone deficiency.  They are FDA-approved, and inserted vaginally two to three times a day with a disposable applicator.
  • Progesterone capsules (used vaginally). Oral progesterone capsules for vaginal use are not approved by the FDA.  Progesterone capsules that are inserted vaginally are sometimes prescribed to those suffering side effects from taking the oral capsules.

Oral Progesterone Capsules. These capsules can be less effective than other treatments for those having ART procedures.  Oral progesterone capsule may cause certain side effects such as nausea, drowsiness, bloating, and irritability.

Progesterone in Oil: Shots or Injections. Oil-based shots and injections were the original methods for injecting progesterone. These shots or injections can be inserted directly into a muscle once daily (through the buttocks).  Progesterone in oil is highly effective for IVF treatments.  It may cause side affects such as inflammation, pain or reaction at the site of the injection. Progesterone in oil may also cause difficulty walking/sitting.

Progesterone Side Effects
Some side effects that may occur when taking progesterone include lethargy, mood swings, depression, or breast soreness. When given through injection, it may cause irritation or pain around the site of the shot. When inserted vaginally, pain or irritation may occur.