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Are there serious side effects with progesterone?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

As with nearly any medicine you take, there are some side effects you may experience. Some of them are more serious than others, but they are more rare. The more serious ones include:

  • migraine headaches
  • feeling very dizzy
  • feeling as though you are going to pass out/faint
  • new breast lumps (a small percentage of people taking oral progesterone have developed breast cancer)
  • severe, sharp chest pain
  • difficulty breathing
  • abnormally fast heartbeat
  • coughing up blood
  • blurry, double, or decreased vision
  • lack of coordination that is unusual for you
  • losing balance more easily than usual
  • seizures
  • depression
  • allergic reaction symptoms such as hives, swollen lips, and difficulty swallowing
As long as this list may be, this is not a complete list of serious side effects that progesterone could cause. Your doctor or pharmacist can give you the entire list, but remember, if you experience any of these, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

Serious side effects that may happen while you are on progesterone include stroke, heart attack and a blood clot in your lung, called a pulmonary embolism. There is a risk of developing breast cancer. If you are an older woman taking progesterone, you should be aware that you have an increased risk of dementia—a decline in your mental abilities. Other serious side effects include ectopic pregnancy, which is a pregnancy that does not implant correctly in the uterus, and blood clots in the arms or legs, called deep venous thromboses.  Call 911 for serious side effects including: sudden weakness of one side of the body or difficulty speaking or talking; chest pain or chest pressure; difficulty breathing. 

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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.