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What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Progesterone Cream in Pregnancy?

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  • Written By: Rebecca Harkin
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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The benefit of progesterone cream in pregnancy is to improve the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and decrease the chances of an early miscarriage. During the luteal phase, progesterone is responsible for preparing the body for a successful pregnancy. Some obstetricians feel that enhancing the natural progesterone in early pregnancy will reduce the chances of a miscarriage due to a shortened and weak luteal phase. Research, however, has failed to definitely prove that using progesterone cream will prevent miscarriages. In addition, many side effects are associated with the use of progesterone.

Progesterone cream in pregnancy is often used to correct a shortened luteal phase, which can lead to early miscarriages. The luteal phase is the time during the menstrual cycle between the release of the egg, called ovulation, and menstruation. This is when progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum, or the ovarian follicle left behind after the egg is released. Progesterone is responsible for preparing the body for a fertilized egg by increasing the body temperature, ripening the endometrial lining, and preventing the shedding of the lining through menstruation. If the corpus luteum does not produce enough progesterone, a fertilized egg will either not implant properly or will be shed during menstruation, leading to a miscarriage.

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A shortened luteal phase is typically diagnosed by charting basal body temperature, blood tests, and an endometrial biopsy. If the luteal phase is short, one way of treating the problem is with progesterone. The body can absorb progesterone through the skin, so it is possible to improve a shortened luteal phase by applying a topical progesterone cream. Progesterone cream in pregnancy is typically started after ovulation and can be continued through the first three months of pregnancy.

The cons of using progesterone cream in pregnancy are the inconsistency of the research on the effectiveness of progesterone in preventing miscarriage. Contradictory research studies have found that progesterone is both beneficial and ineffective at preventing miscarriages. This inconsistency makes obstetricians hesitant to prescribe or recommend the use of this hormone to treat a shortened luteal phase, turning instead to more clinically proven drugs, such as clomid.

Other contraindications for the use of progesterone cream in pregnancy are the many side effects. The most common side effects are headaches, fatigue, mood swings, and depression. Other less common side effects are joint pain and acne. Following the first application of progesterone cream, a woman should carefully watch for an itchy rash, red and swollen skin, or any other sign of an allergic reaction. Use of the cream should immediately be stopped and a doctor should be consulted if an allergic reaction is observed.

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Progesterone cream has about the same side effects as other forms of progesterone, but users might also experience rash like or hive like symptoms on the places of the body where the cream is applied. Otherwise you could also experience bloating, breast tenderness, a change in eating habits, feeling more tired or less tired, bleeding between periods and more.

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