Give advice on women's health concerns.

Progesterone Side Effects

Headache, Tiredness, and Other Acute Side Effects of Progesterone

Progesterone side effects range from headache, breast pain or tenderness, stomach upset to vomiting, constipation, tiredness, etc. It is advisable to consider all the possible side effects before starting the treatment.
Marian K
Last Updated: Mar 6, 2018
During a woman's reproductive cycle, once an egg is released, the follicle from which it is released begins to produce progesterone. If the egg is fertilized, progesterone continues to be produced, which keeps the egg implanted and growing. However, if the egg is not fertilized, the production of progesterone and estrogen stops, which causes lining of the uterus to break and release, along with the unfertilized egg.
Progesterone falls under a class of medications called progestin (female hormones). Progesterone treatment is administered as a part of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It helps reduce the amount of estrogen in the uterus. Women who have gone through menopause without having a hysterectomy are usually the ones in need of HRT. The treatment involves taking tablets that contain progesterone and estrogen. It helps manage menopause symptoms like hot flashes, and can reduce the risk of developing certain diseases. It is often administered to regulate a woman's menstrual cycle, especially to a woman of childbearing age, who has stopped menstruating after having normal periods.
Side Effects of Progesterone
Progesterone is usually taken as a pill, and may cause dizziness, headache, breast tenderness or pain, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, tiredness, muscle, bone, or joint pain, sneezing, mood swings, runny nose, irritability, cough, excessive anxiety, increased irritability, problems in urination, vaginal discharge, and upset stomach.

These progesterone side effects are fairly common, and may be experienced irrespective of the form in which the hormone is taken. However, if you experience more severe side effects such as:
  • Depression
  • Breast lumps
  • Severe dizziness or fainting
  • Migraine headache
  • Blood in cough
  • Slow or slurred speech, hoarse voice
  • Pain or swelling in the leg
  • Weakness / numbness of an arm / leg
  • Unexpected vaginal bleeding
  • Increased rate of heartbeat
  • Intense chest pain
  • Lack of coordination or loss of balance
  • Loss of vision, blurred vision or double vision
  • Swollen or bulging eyes
  • Shivering hands
  • Stomach pain or swelling
  • Seizures
  • Hives
  • Skin rash
  • Itching
  • Difficulty in breathing and swallowing
  • Allergic reaction, Swollen face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands
Side Effects of Progesterone Cream
Progesterone is highly fat-soluble. Topical application of the cream can lead to storage of the hormone in the fat tissues of the woman. Excessive accumulation of the hormone in the tissues can eventually lead to hormone imbalance and can affect the functions of other hormones. The woman may experience:
  • Breast enlargement or pain
  • A change in sex drive
  • Abdominal or leg cramps
  • Difficult or painful sexual intercourse
  • Fluid retention/bloating
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Pain around vaginal area
  • Difficulty sleeping
Severe side effects may include:
  • Inflammation of the eye
  • Pain in the groin
  • Partial or complete loss of vision
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
Progesterone suppositories may also have similar side effects.
Caution: A frightful progesterone side effect is the increased risk of tumors in humans. It has been observed that lab animals who were given the hormone, developed tumors. It may also cause abnormal blood clotting, which can cut off blood supply to any vital organ. According to recently published reports, scientists at Michigan State University have found that exposure to progesterone in menopausal hormone therapy causes inflammation and is likely to be a key factor in raising the risk of breast cancer.
You should inform your doctor about the side effects at the earliest. As severe progesterone side effects can be life-threatening, a natural 'safe' alternative is in great demand. Products containing 'natural progesterone' are made from a plant steroid called diosgenin contained in yams. Last important thing to note is, if you are using progesterone for a long time, it is necessary to have a thorough medical check-up at regular intervals like, once a year or as suggested by the health care provider.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.