During menopause, your body gradually stops producing female sex hormones. This is a natural process, but it’s often accompanied by some uncomfortable symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is used to reduce these symptoms.
Progesterone is often used as part of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal women. However, not all women are prescribed progesterone during menopause. But exactly what does progesterone do for menopause? Keep reading this article to find out.
What is hormone replacement therapy (HRT)?
Hormone replacement therapy is a type of treatment that contains female hormones, and it’s commonly used during menopause. After menopause, your body stops producing female sex hormones, which can lead to a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, taking HRT can help relieve these symptoms and protect your long-term health after menopause.
What is progesterone?
Progesterone is one of the main female hormones, along with estrogen. According to the Society for Endocrinology, progesterone plays a very important role in the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy. Low progesterone can lead to menstrual irregularities, heavy menstrual bleeding, and a higher risk of miscarriage or premature labor.
In addition to being naturally produced by the female body, progesterone can also be taken as a medication.
Low progesterone after menopause
According to MedlinePlus, progesterone can be used in combination with estrogen for HRT. However, not all women who take HRT during menopause need progesterone. Progesterone is typically only prescribed to women who haven’t had a hysterectomy, which means that they still have their uterus.
That’s because despite the fact that estrogen can relieve symptoms of menopause and reduce your risk of certain diseases, it can also cause thickening of the uterine lining. Over time, this thickening can increase the risk of developing endometrial cancer.
The benefits of taking progesterone during menopause
Using progesterone in combination with estrogen prevents the thickening of the uterine lining, which also reduces the risk of endometrial cancer. Women who don’t have a uterus anymore may take estrogen alone without any additional risks.
Evidence suggests that progesterone during menopause can also aid in better sleep. A study published in the journal Climacteric found that oral progesterone improves deep sleep in a safe way. The study also showed that progesterone can reduce the risk of breast cancer in women who receive estrogen.
Progesterone and hot flashes
There could be other benefits of progesterone after menopause. According to a study published in the journal Menopause, progesterone can be used to treat night sweats and hot flashes in healthy postmenopausal women.
In this study, taking oral progesterone everyday was able to reduce the frequency and severity of these symptoms.
Why take progesterone at night?
Most types of combined HRT (meaning that it contains both estrogen and progesterone) are available as oral medications.
Taking progesterone can cause a mild sedative effect, which is why most doctors recommend that you take it at night. This can help you sleep better, but it won’t affect your alertness during the day.
Side effects of taking progesterone after menopause
Just like any other medication, progesterone can cause some side effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the possible side effects of progesterone include:
- Breast pain or tenderness
- Muscle or joint pain
- White or brown vaginal discharge
Progesterone is generally considered to be a very safe medication. However, you should always follow your doctor’s instructions and let them know if you suffer from chronic diseases, allergies, or take other medications. You should seek medical assistance immediately if you experience:
- Chest pain
- Flu-like symptoms
- Urination problems
It’s important to remember that you still need to take care of your reproductive health during menopause. You can still get STDs, even if you can’t get pregnant anymore. You can learn more about at-home STD testing and other sexual health topics at STDWatch.com now.
Hormone therapy: Is it right for you? - mayoclinic.org
Progesterone - yourhormones.info
Progesterone - medlineplus.gov
Progesterone for treatment of symptomatic menopausal women - pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Progesterone (Oral Route) - mayoclinic.org