Progesterone in Oil: What It is Used For?

Hormones are a key part of human health, especially the reproductive system. When your hormone levels are out of balance you can experience all sorts of symptoms and issues. Progesterone is one of the key hormones involved in your reproductive health. Luckily you can make up for having low levels of this hormone through medication.

Key takeaways:
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    Progesterone is a key hormone in pregnancy and menstruation.
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    Low levels of progesterone can lead to difficulties with fertility, irregular periods, and uncomfortable symptoms of menopause.
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    Progesterone in oil is used to help support people undergoing fertility treatments, as well as to regulate the menstrual cycle, and help with menopausal symptoms.
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    Progesterone in oil can be taken as a vaginal suppository or an intramuscular injection, they are about equally as effective.

People with hormonal imbalances often turn to progesterone in oil, but it’s vital to first understand the potential benefits and side effects of this treatment.

What is progesterone?

Progesterone is a steroid hormone that your body secretes after ovulation and during the second half of the menstrual cycle known as the luteal phase. During this part of the menstrual cycle, the female body creates a temporary endocrine gland in the ovary called the corpus luteum. This incredible gland secretes progesterone before turning into a scar within the ovary.

Progesterone is secreted after ovulation to prepare for a potential pregnancy, encouraging the fertilized egg to be accepted by the thickened uterine lining, and preventing the body from rejecting the egg. The female body does not ovulate when there are high levels of progesterone, which are maintained during pregnancy to help with the development of the growing fetus and pregnant person.

If someone does not become pregnant during ovulation, progesterone levels decrease, and they start the beginning of their cycle again by menstruating. Because it’s essential in regulating the menstrual cycle, low progesterone levels can lead to symptoms, such as:

  • Difficulties with fertility.
  • Recurrent miscarriages.
  • Abdominal pain during pregnancy.
  • Spotting during pregnancy.
  • Abnormal bleeding.
  • Missed or irregular periods.

It’s not just menstruation and fertility that are affected by progesterone. Most symptoms of menopause are associated with a dip in estrogen levels, but progesterone decreases are also at play here. You’re probably starting to understand how progesterone medications can be beneficial for reproductive health.

What is progesterone in oil used for?

One of the most common uses of progesterone drugs is to support fertility. People who have undergone in vitro fertilization for help with conceiving are often given medications to help prevent them from ovulating prematurely, hopefully, allowing the embryo to be able to implant and grow in the uterus.

Studies have shown that the use of progesterone therapy during pregnancy significantly increases someone’s chance of carrying a pregnancy to term. It is even more necessary for people who have undergone a frozen embryo transfer, since in these cases the body typically doesn’t make its progesterone, and needs drugs as a replacement.

Most providers recommend taking it for 8-10 weeks after an egg retrieval or frozen embryo transfer, as that’s the gestational age when the placenta starts to take over the production of progesterone instead of the ovaries. Progesterone therapy may also be used to help prevent preterm birth for people who are at risk, even if they haven’t undergone IVF treatment.

Progesterone in oil is also used to help treat irregular menstrual cycles or the absence of periods (amenorrhea), for people who aren’t menopausal or pregnant. This medication is also used to treat abnormal uterine bleeding that is caused by low hormone levels and not other factors like cancer or fibroids.

Because progesterone levels dip during menopause, progesterone in oil can be used to help treat symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, night sweats, and sleep problems. Some studies suggest that it may be more effective than other hormone replacement therapies used to treat symptoms of menopause.

Injecting progesterone into oil

One of the biggest obstacles in progesterone medication is worrying about administering it yourself, this is why it’s important to choose which type works best for you. For fertility treatment, your provider may recommend taking it every day for up to 12 weeks, although the typical dose is 6-8 days.

Vaginal progesterone is meant to be taken twice a day, while intramuscular progesterone is typically administered once a day, at the same time each morning for the duration of treatment.

Other tips to keep in mind when using intramuscular progesterone:

  • Use progesterone in oil at the same time each day.
  • Clean the injection site with rubbing alcohol before administering the medication.
  • Change the injection site location daily to avoid issues with the muscle.
  • Lightly poke different locations with the needle, without puncturing the skin, to see where it is the least sensitive.
  • Remove the needle slowly and steadily to avoid damaging surrounding tissue.

How is progesterone in oil delivered

Progesterone comes as a water-soluble powder and needs to be mixed with oil for it to be injected. It is typically mixed with pharmaceutical-grade sesame oil, but it can also be used in olive oil and ethyl oleate, especially if someone has an allergy to sesame oil.

This medication is typically delivered as an intramuscular injection but may also come as a progesterone vaginal suppository, known as Endometrin. Clinical trials showed no statistical difference in outcomes between suppositories and intramuscular progesterone for participants who were trying to conceive.

Patients reported similar satisfaction and pregnancy rates, however, some people opt for suppositories to avoid the pain of daily injections, or having to deal with blood.

Where to inject progesterone in oil

Progesterone in oil is typically injected into the buttock, but it can also be administered in the thighs and stomach. You can try different locations as well as sides of the body to see where you are the least sensitive to help minimize discomfort.

You can help minimize pain while injecting by pinching the skin at the injection site and lifting it to separate it from the muscle. You can also use ice for 15-30 seconds to numb the injection site before administering the medication.

How to store progesterone in oil

Progesterone in oil can be an expensive medication and may be necessary for your fertility treatments, menstrual health, or treating menopause. Think about what happens when certain oils become cold, now imagine trying to inject that. It’s important not to refrigerate progesterone in oil, as it can thicken the mixture, making it difficult to administer.

You can help prolong the life of your medication by storing it at room temperature at 68-77°F or 20-25°C, away from children and pets. You’ll also want to make sure that your medication is in a closed container away from direct light, heat, and moisture.

Progesterone in oil side effects

Like with any medication, progesterone in oil does come with some potential side effects:

  • Breast tenderness.
  • Weight gain or loss.
  • Nausea.
  • Swelling or pain at the injection site.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Acne.
  • An increase in body/facial hair.

Seek medical care as soon as possible if you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction like itching, hives, rashes, or swelling of the lips, throat, tongue, and/or face. It’s also important to alert your doctor if you have more serious side effects like breast lumps, swelling of the feet and ankles, abdominal/stomach pain, or unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge.

Talk to your provider if you’re looking to take progesterone in oil to help support your fertility, menstrual cycle, or symptoms of menopause. They will help guide you in making the right choice for your specific needs, goals, and lifestyle.

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