What conditions is progesterone used to treat?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Progesterone is a sexy kind of hormone since it’s involved with the menstrual cycle and reproduction. It manages to take care of two opposite kinds of problems. Here are some of the opposites:

  •  It can help you get pregnant since it’s a standard component of infertility treatment, but it also is commonly used as a method of birth control.
  •  It is also used to help stop abnormal bleeding from the uterus and to induce periods in women who have had normal menstrual cycles, but then stopped having them. It is also key for helping women sleep -- in fact some if not the majority of sleep difficulty with menopause is due to relatively sudden loss of progesterone.

Finally, it also is used in conjunction with estrogen in hormone replacement therapy to prevent the uterine lining from thickening too much (endometrial hyperplasia), so you don’t up your risk for developing uterine cancer.

So really, progesterone, that “women’s only” hormone, is like many women out there: working hard, doing it all, and then doing even more. Let’s hear it for progesterone!
Progesterone is used to treat several different conditions in women at different stages of life. In post-menopausal women (women who have already gone through the “change of life,” or menopause), progesterone may be used in combination with estrogen as hormone replacement therapy—estrogen is often used to treat menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, but it increases the risk of cancer of the uterus because it causes the lining of the uterus to become thicker. Progesterone “balances out” the estrogen and lowers the risk of cancer by preventing the uterine lining (the endometrium) from becoming too thick. Women hoping to become pregnant may also use progesterone as part of infertility treatment, known in medical terms as “assisted reproductive technology.” Finally, progesterone may help bring on periods in premenopausal women who have had periods but have suddenly stopped having them—this is called “secondary amenorrhea.”

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.