Progesterone Side Effects

What are natural progesterone side effects? 

What's the difference between natural progesterone and synthetic progesterone? 

Natural progesterone has very positive benefits and there are no known progesterone side effects of natural progesterone cream when used correctly and when using the same levels as what the body normally makes. 

Natural progesterone cream is the easiest and most effective form of natural progesterone to use. 

Progesterone Side Effects

Natural Progesterone vs. Synthetic Progestogens

Side effects of Progesterone Cream


What is the difference between natural progesterone and synthetic progesterones (progestogens)?

Natural progesterone has the same chemical structure identical to the substance made in a woman's body by the ovarian corpus luteum. 

Progestogens are synthetic progesterone-like chemicals that bind to the body's progesterone receptors and function like progesterone. 

Because they are chemically different than natural progesterone, they sometimes have progesterone side effects or actions that are different than progesterone. 

Progestogens were originally developed only capable of being absorbed into the blood when ingested in pill form.  

In contrast to some of the progestogens such as medroxyprogesterone acetate, natural progesterone...

  • does not seem to suppress good cholesterol (HDL)


  • has no effect on mood or blood pressure 

  • shows less tendency to cause an increased male-hormone-like effect such as growing facial hair

Each synthetic progestogen has a somewhat different side effect profile so it is not easy to generalize synthetic progesterone side effects. 

Reported synthetic progesterone side effects include...

  • increased risk of cancer


  • increased risk of birth defects if taken during the first four months of pregnancy


  • fluid retention


  • depression


  • abnormal menstrual flow


  • insomnia


  • nausea


  • acne


  • mental depression


  • nausea


  • hirsutism


  • masculinization

Should progesterone be taken as a pill, shot, vaginal suppository or a cream?

The best method is the one that's most convenient, available and easy use. You may also consider price. 

Absorption and duration of action will vary by the form of progesterone used.

  • Pills
    For pills, peak absorption is about 1-4 hours and is cleared by 24 hours. Taking the pills with food enhances absorption.


  • Shots
    Shots are usually given in the form of progesterone in oil, doses peak at about 12 hours after administration and take at least 48 hours or more to clear. There are depot forms of medroxyprogesterone acetate that last at least 12 weeks which gives it its contraceptive effect.


  • Vaginal Suppositories
    For vaginal suppositories, cream is peak absorption is in about 4 hours and cleared by 24 hours. Sometimes mixed in cocoa butter or propylene glycol as the carrying agent. A cream is also commercially available.


  • Progesterone Skin Creams
    Natural progesterone cream is the easiest and most effective form of progesterone to use. You just apply it directly to the skin on the appropriate areas of your body. From there it's absorbed into the underlying fat layer and then it can be absorbed into the blood stream as the body needs it.

What are the progesterone side effects of too little or too much progesterone?

Too much progesterone often causes tiredness and even sedation. 

Progesterone side effect can be beneficial to a woman who has epilepsy because progesterone in high doses can decrease seizure activity. 

Also, high doses can help with uterine irritability causing preterm labor and by decreasing uterine contractions. 

No Known Side effects of Natural Progesterone
Under normal conditions, when using natural progesterone in physiological amounts (20 - 30 mg a day for women and 6-10 mg a day for men) there aren't any progesterone side effects. 

It's important for progesterone prescriptions to be individualized. For example, it is common for natural progesterone prescriptions to be 100 mg a day or even as high as 200mg a day. 

Natural progesterone is safe, but as with most substances, too much can cause problems.

Too much progesterone is actually counterproductive, as chronically high progesterone doses over the course of many months eventually causes progesterone receptors to turn off, reducing its effectiveness and may lead to toxic progesterone side effects. 

But keep in mind, not all women suffer from these progesterone side effects when they use excessive doses of progesterone. 

Side effects of too much progesterone include...

  • An anesthetic effect
    An anesthetic and intoxicating effect such as slight sleepiness. 

    Excess progesterone down-regulates estrogen receptors, and the brain's response to estrogen is needed for serotonin production. 

    To solve this, simply reduce the dose until the sleepiness goes away.


  • Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
    For a week or two after first starting progesterone, some women report paradoxical estrogen dominance symptoms. 

    In the initial application, it is common for those who have been deficient in progesterone for years to experience some headaches, water retention, and swollen breasts. 

    These symptoms of estrogen dominance are common because the estrogen receptors are being re-sensitized by the progesterone. This "coming alive" of progesterone is exhibited in the initial stages of progesterone application. 

    These symptoms usually go away by themselves and isn't a sign of toxicity.


  • Lowered libido
    Excess progesterone block the conversion of testosterone to DHT causing a lowered sex drive. This primarily happens to men.


  • Candida
    Excess progesterone can inhibit anti-Candida white blood cells, which can lead to bloating and gas. 

    Excess progesterone slows gastrointestinal (GI) transport, and with the wrong kind of gastrointestinal flora, such as candida, this can lead to bloating and gas. 

    Candida is bacterium present in a yeast infection. Excess progesterone can inhibit anti-Candida neutrophils (white blood cells). 
    Systemic candidiasis can be treated with a grain-free diet for 2 weeks, followed by 40 mg of progesterone ( using 3% progesterone cream) a day applied vaginally and to the breast. 

    More is applied gradually elsewhere to areas such as the neck, face, brow, and inner aspects of the arms. 

    If side effects worsen, reduce progesterone dosage.


  • Mild Depression
    Depression is caused by the excess progesterone down-regulating estrogen receptors and the brain response to estrogens is needed for seratonin production.


  • Edema (water retention)
    Water retention is likely caused by excess conversion to deoxycortisone, a mineralcorticoid made in the adrenal glands which causes water retention.

High doses can lead to an increase in androgen production.
Excessive progesterone can also lead to the increase in androgen production and ultimately increase in estrogen production within the adrenal hormonal synthesis pathway as the body shunts the excessive progesterone to these other hormones. 

Applying progesterone cream to the wrong areas can lead to excessive progesterone levels.

Excessive progesterone is more commonly a problem for people who are self-administering topical progesterone cream in the wrong areas of the body. 

Progesterone cream should be applied to areas that have good circulation but aren't high in fat

These areas include the back of the neck, wrist, and under part of the upper arm. 

Areas such as the abdomen, buttock and breast are high in fat and will retain progesterone faster than other parts of the body. 


› Progesterone Side Effects

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