Progesterone is a natural female sex hormone.
Follow carefully the directions your doctor gives to you about taking progesterone. It is prescribed for a selected number of days each month.
Any side-effects are usually mild, but may include feeling sick (nausea), weight gain, and headache.
|Type of medicine||A progestogen|
|Used for||A variety of gynaecological problems, including infertility, in early pregnancy, and as part of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)|
|Also called||Crinone® vaginal gel; Cyclogest® pessaries; Lubion® injection; Lutigest® vaginal tablets; Utrogestan® capsules and vaginal capsules|
|Available as||Capsules, vaginal gel, vaginal capsules, pessaries and injection|
Progesterone is a naturally occurring female sex hormone which is essential for the function of the female reproductive system. It is produced in the ovaries during the second half of the menstrual cycle, and also by the placenta during pregnancy. The amount of progesterone a woman produces declines during the menopause.
You will have been prescribed progesterone to supplement your naturally produced progesterone for a reason which your doctor will have explained to you. It works by adjusting the balance of your body's own hormones.
Progesterone is available in a number of formulations that are the subject of this leaflet (gel, injection, capsules, and pessaries). Each formulation is prescribed for a different gynaecological reason.
Progesterone may also be included as an ingredient in a number of combination products used for a variety of medical reasons. These products are not covered by this leaflet and you should read the printed information provided by your doctor and the manufacturer.
Before taking progesterone
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking progesterone, it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- If you have migraines, asthma, epilepsy or high blood pressure.
- If you are having any vaginal bleeding other than your normal monthly period.
- If you have ever had a blood clot in your legs or lungs.
- If you have a heart condition.
- If you have had any problems with the way your liver or kidneys work.
- If you have ever had depression.
- If you have too much sugar in your blood (diabetes mellitus).
- If you have cancer.
- If during a pregnancy you had problems such as severe itching, yellowing of your skin or of the whites of your eyes (jaundice), or a skin condition called pemphigoid gestationis.
- If you have a rare inherited blood disorder called porphyria.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
How to take progesterone
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the brand of progesterone you have been given. It will also provide a full list of side-effects which you may experience.
- Follow carefully the instructions your doctor has given you. Progesterone is usually only used on a number of specified days during a monthly cycle. This may range from 4 to 25 days of a month depending on the reason it has been prescribed for you. If you are unsure about what to do, check again with your doctor.
If you have been prescribed:
- Utrogestan® capsules as HRT: these should be taken at bedtime, on an empty stomach. This means that you should not take them with or soon after eating food. Just take them on the days of the month your doctor has told you to. You will also be prescribed an oestrogen-containing HRT medicine to take throughout the month.
- Utrogestan vaginal® capsules for fertility treatment: use the applicator and follow the manufacturer's instructions for inserting the capsule high into the vagina. Do not take the capsule by mouth, although if you do swallow it accidentally, it will not harm you. The capsules are usually prescribed during the first three months of pregnancy only.
- Lutigest® vaginal tablets for fertility treatment: put one tablet into the end of the applicator and use it to insert the tablet into the vagina following the manufacturer's instructions. Push the plunger to release the tablet. The usual dose is one tablet inserted three times daily starting on the day of egg retrieval. You will need to continue using Lutigest® for 30 days if pregnancy is confirmed. Follow the instructions of your doctor.
- Crinone® vaginal gel for fertility treatment: use one 'applicatorful' daily into the vagina. Just use it on the days of the month your doctor has told you to.
- Cyclogest® pessaries for menstrual problems: use twice daily on the days of the month your doctor has told you to. Pessaries are generally designed to be inserted into the vagina, but Cyclogest® pessaries are also suitable to be inserted into the back passage, as a suppository. If you are unsure which is the correct way for you to use them, check again with your doctor.
- Lubion® injection for fertility treatment: make sure you know how to use this injection. If you are unsure which days to use it, or how much to use, check again with your doctor or clinic.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. Also, remember to keep any routine appointments for breast screening and cervical smear tests.
- If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are on progesterone.
- If you have diabetes you may need to check your blood glucose more frequently, as progesterone can affect the levels of sugar in your blood. Your doctor will advise you about this.
- It is best to avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol while on progesterone. If you are a smoker and you would like advice on how to quit, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with progesterone. This is because some herbal preparations (such as St John's wort) can interfere with the way it works.
Can progesterone cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, all medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below lists some of the most common ones associated with progesterone. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve over the first few days of taking or using a new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common progesterone side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling sick (nausea)||Eat simple meals (avoid rich or spicy foods)|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headaches continue or are unusually severe, speak with your doctor as soon as possible|
|Irregular periods, breast tenderness, weight changes, feeling dizzy or sleepy, difficulty sleeping, changes in sexual desire, mood changes, skin rash, acne-like spots, changes in hair growth, swollen feet and ankles (due to fluid retention)||Speak with your doctor if any of these become troublesome|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store progesterone
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading and references
Manufacturer's PIL, Crinone® 8% Progesterone Vaginal Gel; Merck Serono Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated August 2019.
Manufacturer's PIL, Cyclogest® 200 mg and 400 mg Pessaries; L.D. Collins & Co. Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated August 2019.
Manufacturer's PIL, Lutigest® vaginal tablets; Ferring Pharmaceuticals Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated October 2014.
Manufacturer's PIL, Utrogestan® 100 mg Capsules; Besins Healthcare (UK) Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated February 2019.
Manufacturer's PIL, Utrogestan Vaginal® 200 mg Capsules; Besins Healthcare (UK) Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated February 2019.
British National Formulary, 78th Edition (Sep 2019); British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.