Progesterone is a female hormone that is released or secreted by the ovaries, along with a mature egg, in the second week following the monthly menstrual cycle.
The female hormone progesterone plays a pivotal role in preparing the endometrial lining to receive the egg in case of fertilization. This naturally occurring steroidal hormone not only helps to regulate the monthly menstrual cycle, but it is also extremely important to ensure a normal pregnancy.
Around the time of menopause, women may experience a sudden dip in their progesterone levels. To maintain normal levels of this hormone, doctors may prescribe naturally or synthetically obtained progesterone in the form of creams, injections, pills or suppositories. Hormone replacement therapy can also help to boost body progesterone levels.
6 Side Effects of Progesterone
As part of the remedial measures adopted by peri-menopausal women to boost their flagging body progesterone levels, which includes hormone replacement therapies and taking progesterone supplements in various forms, it must be noted that like any other hormonal supplement, excessive intake of progesterone over a prolonged period of time can lead to multiple health complications.
Side effects of progesterone replacement treatment range from the mild to the severe. Some unpleasant side effects of progesterone have been detailed in this article.
An extremely unpleasant and common complaint among women who are on progesterone supplements is vaginal itching. The problem of vaginal itching is typically seen in women who lubricate their vagina with progesterone cream. Some women also complain of excessive vaginal discharge and vaginal burning after applying the progesterone cream.
Women who are on progesterone therapy will often notice a sudden increase in the size of their breasts. The reason behind the sudden breast enlargement is attributed to the synthetic progesterone hormones which stimulates the breast cells to divide and multiply at an accelerated rate. This sudden multiplication of breast cells leads to pain and ultimately a noticeable increase in the size of the breasts.
While breast pain or tenderness is a frequent complaint among women on progesterone therapy, the muscles, joints and even the bones become painfully tender. Women on progesterone treatment also experience frequent episodes of debilitating headaches.
Sudden, inexplicable mood swings and feeling of depression is frequently noticed in women who are on progesterone therapy. The hormone serotonin controls an individual’s moods.
Medical research has shown that there is sustained drop in the levels of serotonin in women who are on progesterone therapy. The drop in the levels of the hormone serotonin has been attributed to negative feelings like depression, sadness, anger and frustration.
Gastrointestinal problems like bloating, nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhea are frequently noticed in women who are on progesterone therapy.
Yet another side effect of progesterone therapy is insomnia. The problem of insomnia is rampant among women on progesterone treatment. Lack of sleep is one of the primary reasons behind increased irritability and mood swings.
However it has been noted that the problem of insomnia is only seen in women who take large doses of progesterone supplements. Chest pain, loss of balance, confusion and numbness are some of the other side effects of progesterone.