INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS: CYCLIC PROGESTERONE THERAPY Why Might I Need To Take Cyclic
If your period starts before you have finished the 14 days of
progesterone (for example, on the 9th day of taking it) finish
Progesterone is one of the two important female hormones
the full 14 days, but start the next progesterone 14 days after
for women. (Estrogen is the one we usually hear about). When
the period began. This allows for a “catch up” of progesterone
menstrual cycles are disturbed, even in a way that is not
obvious, ovulation is normal and progesterone levels become
Your doctor may prescribe progesterone to control heavy
periods, severe menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) or to help
with irregular periods, acne, unwanted hair, low bone density
or sore and lumpy breasts. Cyclic progesterone therapy may
also help achieve fertility. It is also very important therapy for
night sweats, breast tenderness or heavy flow in
If your period starts while you are still taking pro-
gesterone, always continue taking it for the full 14 days. If this
flow persists you may need a higher dose of progesterone, or
What Medications Can I Choose?
take it for a longer time. The early flow is a sign of high
estrogen over-stimulating the endometrium (lining of the
name Provera®) is a chemical form of progesterone that has
been used for over 40 years -- is a very close cousin of natural
If you have not started to flow within two weeks of
progesterone. It is stronger so the natural dose is 10 mg. a day.
taking progesterone, stop for 14 days. After this 14-day period start taking progesterone again.
A one-day dose costs from 35 to 50 cents.
Oral micronized progesterone (Prometrium®) is the same
As soon as your period returns, start taking proges-
thing your ovaries make. Three 100 mg. capsules is the natural
terone again 14 days after the start of your flow, as shown in Diagram 1.
dose. Because it causes sleepiness, take this medication on your way to bed. One day’s dosage costs about $1.50. Either
medication will have the important effects on flow, breasts and
Are There Any Side Effects?
no serious side effects from progesterone
therapy. It does not cause blood clots, migraine headaches or
When Do I Take It?
increase the risk for breast cancer. It effectively prevents
If you get a period regularly and your periods are usually
endometrial cancer. Pharmacy references often state that
27-30 days apart, start progesterone on the 14th day after flow
progesterone causes everything that’s been shown on the birth
began and take it for 14 days, or until cycle day 27. If your
control pill (high dose estrogen and male-hormone-like kinds
cycles are regular but short (for example, if your period starts
of synthetic progesterone). In very rare instances an allergy
every 19 – 26 days) start cyclic medroxyprogesterone or
may occur. (Oral micronized progesterone is in peanut oil;
progesterone on cycle day 12. You would take it for 14 days,
therefore those with an allergy to peanuts must NOT take it.)
You may notice some changes in your breasts, feelings of
warmth and other evidence of normal progesterone action. If
you get moody, feel bloated and have very sore breasts it
CYCLIC PROGESTERONE THERAPY
means progesterone is temporarily stimulating your body to
make high estrogen levels. This improves after one cycle.
May be copied and distributed FREE. For bulk distribution authorization, please contact the author at the address below. Prepared by Dr. Jerilynn C. Prior Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research 4137-2775 Laurel Street (4th Floor)Vancouver, B.C. V5Z 1M9 E-mail: CeMCOR@interchange.ubc.ca
Reprinted from an article originally printed in The Canadian Journal of Diagnosis, 1997.
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