Getting Pregnant and Fertility Drugs: Progesterone

Getting pregnant for some may be a difficult if they suffer from menstrual irregularities, which may be caused by a low level of progesterone. So talk to your doctor or health care provider if you or you're partner is experiencing difficulties getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. This could be a sign that you're lacking the hormone progesterone that is required to ovulate regularly and to carry pregnancies to term.

What is Progesterone?

Progesterone is one of the female hormones produced by the ovaries. Progesterone plays an important role in the ovulation and pregnancy. Once your ovaries release an egg, the rest of the follicle becomes the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum triggers the production of estrogen, which in turn, produces progesterone. Progesterone is vital in the implantation of the fertilized egg and regular menstruation.

Low Progesterone Levels: Side Effects

When women reach their 30's or 40's, their progesterone level can drop naturally, causing menstruation to occur more frequently. Low levels of progesterone and high levels of estrogens can lead to a number of problems in women that can affect their fertility and chances of getting pregnant. The problems that can occur with low progesterone levels include:

  • Tissue Buildup
  • Heavy Menstrual Flow
  • Spotting between periods
  • Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Miscarriage

Severe progesterone deficiency can prevent the uterine line from shedding, resulting in a missed period, anovulation, or other ovulation problems.

Progesterone Test

If you're experiencing symptoms of female infertility, talk to your doctor about a fertility treatment that's best for you. You may need to take the progesterone test, to find out what will work for you. The progesterone test involves taking a small sample of your blood to be tested for hormonal levels. The progesterone test may be used to for various reasons. These reasons include: testing if ovulation occurred, to determine when ovulation occurred, and to indicate the risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Since, generally, progesterone levels surge before ovulation and continue to rise if you become pregnant.

Common Test Recipients

Women who seek fertility treatment from fertility clinics will most likely need to take a progesterone test. Doctors also recommend women who have a history of miscarriages, stillbirth, unexplained infertility, and/or abnormal uterine bleeding to take the test.

Progesterone as a Fertility Drug

If you're undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) your doctor may prescribe synthetic progesterone to you to help build the lining of the uterus to prepare for implantation of the fertilized egg.

If you test positive for a low level of progesterone during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle, your doctor may also prescribe progesterone as a fertility drug, if you're planning to conceive soon. To help increase the low levels of progesterone that often lead to a pregnancy loss or miscarriage.

Taking Progesterone

Progesterone can be taken in a variety of ways, including:

  • Orally
  • Vaginal gel
  • Intramuscular injection (progesterone in oil)
  • Vaginal suppository

Two common brand names for progesterone include Crinone and Prometrium.

Side Effects

Common side effects of progesterone include:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Mood Swings
  • Sore Breasts
  • Headaches
  • Vaginal Discharge (with suppositories)

Although, progesterone appears to be relatively safe for short-term use, ask you doctor about any risk associated with long-term use, and what you should do if you get pregnant while taking progesterone.

Visit our forum to chat with other women about the effects of taking progesterone.

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