What are Progesterone Pessaries?

C. Stoliecki

Progesterone pessaries are small medical devices that are placed inside of the vagina or rectum to release a hormone known as progesterone into a woman’s body. Progesterone is a type of hormone that works to ready the uterus for pregnancy. They are used in some women who are undergoing infertility treatments to help ensure that their uterus is prepared to become pregnant and to help sustain a possible pregnancy. They have also been used to alleviate premenstrual syndrome symptoms and postpartum depression.

Progesterone pessaries are used to help ensure that their uterus is prepared to become pregnant and to help sustain a possible pregnancy.
Progesterone pessaries are used to help ensure that their uterus is prepared to become pregnant and to help sustain a possible pregnancy.

Generally, progesterone pessaries are made for self-insertion. A woman will receive a package of inserts that she will administer several times daily, depending upon her prescribed daily dosage. Upon insertion, the pessaries dissolve and the progesterone comes into contact with blood vessels. The blood vessels absorb the hormone and it enters the woman’s blood. After being absorbed into the blood, the body utilizes the progesterone in the same manner as it would if it were manufactured naturally.

Postpartum depression may be caused by a drop in progesterone levels after giving birth.
Postpartum depression may be caused by a drop in progesterone levels after giving birth.

Women with low-levels of progesterone often have difficulty getting pregnant and maintaining the pregnancy. This is because progesterone prepares the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, to accept a fertilized egg in the event of pregnancy. The role of progesterone continues throughout pregnancy as it prevents the uterus from shedding it’s lining and ending the pregnancy. Progesterone pessaries can be used in these women prior to and during pregnancy to ensure a healthy progression.

Women with low-levels of progesterone often have difficulty getting pregnant and maintaining the pregnancy.
Women with low-levels of progesterone often have difficulty getting pregnant and maintaining the pregnancy.

These devices have also been used to treat symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. Although the reasons for this relationship are not fully understood, some researchers have found that low levels of progesterone during a woman’s premenstrual cycle leads to a group of symptoms commonly referred to as premenstrual syndrome. These include weight gain, headaches, mood swings, fatigue, backaches and general body aches. Many doctors have found a high rate of success treating symptoms of premenstrual syndrome with progesterone pessaries.

Mood swings may occur as a result of low progesterone levels in women.
Mood swings may occur as a result of low progesterone levels in women.

Many women suffer from postpartum depression, which is depression that occurs after delivering a baby. Some doctors believe that the sudden drop in progesterone levels that occurs in a woman’s body after she gives birth causes postpartum depression. A woman can use progesterone pessaries after delivery to help taper off dropping progesterone levels and alleviate postpartum.

There are several side effects that are possible from the use of progesterone pessaries. In some cases, women experience a change in menstrual cycle or increased vaginal or rectal discharge. Other possible side effects include irritation where insertion occurs, abdominal bloating and cramping, increased blood pressure, nervousness, and hot flashes.

Hot flashes are one possible side effect of progesterone pessaries.
Hot flashes are one possible side effect of progesterone pessaries.

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Discussion Comments

umbra21

@browncoat - I think you can use a progesterone cream or supplements rather than needing a pessary in some cases, it depends on how much of the hormone you need.

It'll be much better when they've researched it a bit more and are able to give you forms of progesterone that will last longer so that you don't need several pessaries or several shots or whatever throughout the day. It's a pain in the ass, pun intended, at the moment.

browncoat

@MrsPramm - What I think is difficult is that it all adds up to a lot of stress and it's so much easier to conceive if you aren't stressing.

I am happy to hear that they might provide a bit of relief for women who are suffering from postpartum depression, because I have to say that that can be one of the worst conditions a person can suffer. I've heard of mothers feeling so terrible, that they end up taking their own lives and in some cases, the life of their child.

And it's almost always chemical. We don't think to think of ourselves as being ruled by our hormones, but in that case it is much better to get some relief, whether it's these pessaries or something else, than to sit and suffer quietly.

MrsPramm

I guess this is the alternative to getting shots several times a day to deliver the progesterone. The side effects are going to be the same either way and as I understand it they are pretty bad. I've never known anyone who went through it personally, but they have it as a plot point on TV all the time when one of the characters is trying for IVF. It's kind of convinced me that if it ever gets to that, that I'm not able to have kids naturally, that I'll probably adopt instead.

Why go through the shots, or the insertions, and the side effects and the huge price when you aren't even guaranteed a child at the end of it? I'd much rather feel like I'm putting money and time toward giving a child without a family a home.

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