Progesterone is naturally secreted by the ovary in the second two weeks of the menstrual cycle in reproductive age ovulating women.
Progesterone or progesterone-like substances called progestogens or progestins are also ingested by women in birth control pills, menopausal hormone replacement therapy, or just sometimes to induce a menstrual period or regulate abnormal bleeding problems if menses are skipping or bleeding is irregular or prolonged.
Progesterone has been used also as therapy for PMS syndrome and for women with infertility or frequent pregnancy loss.
Many magazine articles have described the benefits and hazards of estrogens in women, but progesterone effects are much less known.
A recent symposium, Fraser IS, Lobo R (eds and cochairs): Update on progestogen therapy. J Reprod Med 1999;44:139-232. brought together much of the current knowledge about progesterone administration for different purposes and helps answer some questions that many women may be interested in.
Is it better to take progesterone as a pill, a shot, a vaginal suppository or a cream?
All of the above forms of progesterone and progestogens have been used.
The method of administration is best determined by availability, convenience of use and price.
Absorption and duration of action will vary by the form of progesterone used:
pills - peak absorption is about 1-4 hours and is cleared by 24 hours. Taking the pills with food enhances absorption.
shots - usually given in the form of progesterone in oil, doses peak at about 12 hours after administration and take at least 48 hours or more to clear. There are depot forms of medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera®) that last at least 12 weeks which gives it its contraceptive effect.
vaginal suppositories, cream - absorbed to peak in 4 hours and cleared by 24 hours. Sometimes mixed in cocoa butter or propylene glycol as the carrying agent. A cream is also commercially available (Crinone®).
skin creams - creams tend not to absorb through the skin very well but alcohol-based gels are effective with a once a day application. A 10% alcohol and propylene glycol base also seems to be quite effective and clears by 24 hours.
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by Kelley D Smith
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More "Pregnancy Over 40" blogs to visit:
• Life Begins... - Pregnancy stories of loss, hope and help
• Pregnancy Stories by Age - Daily blog of hope and inspiration!
• You Can Get Pregnant in Your 40's - Sharing articles, discussing options and suggestions
• Stories of Pregnancy and Birth over 44 - sharing news stories I find online, for inspiration!