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How does progesterone work as part of my infertility treatment?

Progesterone is a hormone that is normally made by a woman's body to help regulate her periods and to support a successful pregnancy. Sometimes a woman's progesterone levels are lower than normal, which could prevent a normal pregnancy from happening. When progesterone is given at the right time in a woman's menstrual cycle, the luteal phase, progesterone helps the embryo implant, or attach, correctly within the uterus. This may be the step that is needed to ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Progesterone is a female hormone involved with the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. Progesterone is needed to maintain a pregnancy. Some women are unable to maintain a pregnancy because their natural levels of progesterone are too low (doctors call that being “progesterone deficient”). Without the right amount of progesterone, the embryo may not implant, or “stick” correctly in the womb. So you may have no have trouble getting pregnant, but you do have trouble staying pregnant.

Therefore, progesterone is usually used as a part of assistive reproductive technology (ART) treatments like IVF to support pregnancies. Typically, you will continue taking progesterone for up to 10 to 12 weeks after you become pregnant to make sure the embryo implants correctly and stays implanted.

Progesterone treatment in male infertility is used when men have too much estrogen or have too little progesterone. Progesterone is used to counteract the effects of estrogen. Progesterone is also closely tied to testosterone production, which is used to influence sperm production. If there is too much estrogen and not enough progesterone to counteract the estrogen, the body will have difficulty producing sperm. Progesterone replacement in infertility helps to counteract estrogen and increase testosterone production, leading to increased sperm production.

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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.