Progesterone Cream: Everything You Need to Know
Progesterone cream, as its name suggests, is a compound that contains progesterone, a hormone linked to the female gender that’s essential to maintain the menstrual cycle and make pregnancy possible. In its topical variant, this hormone is prescribed to reduce the clinical signs of menopause, reduce skin damage caused by aging, and prevent osteoporosis.
Progesterone cream is sold without a prescription in pharmacies, and progesterone is obtained from plant compounds, such as extracts of Dioscorea villosa – which contain diosgenin, similar to the active principle. If you want to know everything about this drug, we invite you to keep reading.
What is progesterone cream used for?
Progesterone is a hormone with various functions that are amplified in the presence of estrogens. Known as the pregnancy hormone, it has the following effects on the female body:
- Prepares the endometrium for the implantation phase. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, levels of this hormone drop, and menstruation occurs.
- During pregnancy, this hormone suppresses the maternal immune system in order to allow acceptance of the fetus in the environment. As an immunosuppressant, it also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
- Uterine smooth muscle contractility decreases and a drop in its levels facilitates the onset of labor.
- Raises levels of epidermal growth factor, a protein that stimulates cell differentiation.
- It reduces the activity of the gallbladder.
Progesterone levels vary in the female body throughout life. For example, in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, its concentration is very low (0.15-0.70 ng / ml), while in the third trimester of pregnancy, it reaches 65-229 ng / ml. Once menopause arrives, low values of this hormone are established (<0.4 ng / ml).
After the hormonal imbalance that menopause implies, women often experience hot flashes, night sweats, changes in vaginal secretions, and a loss of calcium in the bones, which can lead to early osteoporosis. Progesterone cream and other hormone replacement therapies aim to relieve the symptoms of this stage.
Mechanism of action and uses
As we’ve said, progesterone concentration drops during menopause. Its topical administration could help in the following aspects:
- The reduction of hot flashes and vaginal dryness
- Helping against fatigue
- Generalized improvement in mood and more consistency in sleep schedules
- Relief of epidermal symptoms, such as dry, cracked, and fine skin
- Prevention of the loss of bone density (osteopenia) and osteoporosis
- Increased libido
As indicated by the United States National Library of Medicine, progesterone in the form of an oral pill is used to treat the symptoms of menopause. However, the effectiveness hasn’t been proven in all cases.
Scientific evidence on progesterone cream
Experts suggest that progesterone could prevent endometrial cancer by modulating the activity of estrogens. These are a group of hormones that promote cell growth and increase the chances of neoplasms in some specific scenarios, as indicated by the National Cancer Institute.
Studies published on the Pubmed portal show that the serum progesterone concentration after the administration of topical creams is too low to maintain this effect, as the levels don’t exceed 3.5 ng / ml. However, later, it has been shown that its levels in saliva and capillaries are 10 and 100 times higher after treatment with the cream.
Therefore, today it’s believed that progesterone cream can be very useful. Although serum levels are very low, they do increase the values of this hormone in other areas. However, much remains to be known regarding the absorption and pharmacokinetics of this topical medication.
How is it administered?
Progesterone cream can be presented in various formats, depending on the brand. We can look at the Darstin 10 mg / g gel ® insert to understand the dosage.
This drug comes as a colorless gel for topical application. In this commercial preparation, each gram of preparation contains 10 milligrams of progesterone.
According to the package insert, the cream should be applied to the skin of the breasts every morning. In total, about 2.5 grams of ointment are administered to each breast every 24 hours (5 total grams), and care must be taken to respect the indicated doses. The cream should be allowed to dry before dressing, but it doesn’t smell bad and doesn’t produce stains.
This cream comes in an 80-gram tube with a measuring spatula.
Who shouldn’t use progesterone cream?
First of all, this medicine shouldn’t be used by anyone who is allergic to progesterone or any of its excipients. Among these last elements, we find carbomers, trolamine, 96% ethanol, and purified water. Consult with your doctor if you have had reactions to any of them.
Also tell your medical professional about any skin condition you have, as it can cause dry skin and irritation in some cases. At the same time, it should be noted that it’s not contraindicated during pregnancy or lactation or when using machines.
Progesterone cream is used almost exclusively in women, as it focuses on treating hormonal imbalances. Although some sources argue that in men, the probability of developing prostate cancer decreases with this ointment, scientific evidence is lacking.
Possible side effects
The only adverse effect reported from the use of progesterone cream is dryness, itching, and irritation of the skin. In case this group of symptoms appears, it’s best to stop the application of the topical drug and consult your doctor.
In any case, professional portals such as WebMD are more cautious and cite other possible adverse effects that can occur after consuming progesterone in any of its variants:
- Increase or decrease in heart rate
- Fatigue and feeling of being depressed
- Menstrual changes
- Cough and trouble breathing well
- Confusion and vertigo
- Low blood pressure
There’s not much evidence on the use of these creams, so any adverse effect supposedly experienced should be taken with caution. In any case, if you don’t feel well during treatment with progesterone in any variant, don’t hesitate to go to the emergency room.
What happens if I miss a dose?
This ointment is applied in a single dose every day in the morning and at night, even during the menstrual period. If you forget to put it on one day, don’t double the amount of cream the next day to compensate. This could promote irritation and itching.
What do I have to do in case of an overdose?
It’s difficult to identify a protocol for a progesterone cream overdose, as this medication doesn’t work in the same way as those administered orally. If you apply too much cream for any reason and it starts to itch, or you swallow some of the ointment, go to the emergency room immediately.
How to store or dispose of this medicine
This medicine requires special packaging conditions. First of all, it must always be kept below 25 ° C, as it may lose its properties.
Therefore, in times of summer or excessive heat, the best option is to keep it in the fridge. At the same time, it must be kept in its tube with the lid on so that it doesn’t dry out.
If you want to get rid of this medicine, don’t throw it away or down the toilet, as this can cause great damage to the natural environment. Look online to find out where you dispose of it safely and responsibly.
Progesterone cream: A drug of variable recommendation
There are many things that aren’t yet clear about progesterone cream. It seems that its use in the healthy population isn’t dangerous, but neither has a general consensus been reached on its efficacy in 100% of the studies consulted.
For all these reasons, we recommend that you only use progesterone cream if indicated by a doctor in a specific and controlled treatment. Don’t use it on your own if you suspect a hormonal imbalance, because, without professional attention, you may make the problem continue to progress or make it worse.
- Progesterona, Biblioteca Nacional de Medicina de los Estados Unidos. Recogido a 27 de junio en https://medlineplus.gov/spanish/druginfo/meds/a604017-es.html
- Hormonas, Instituto Nacional del Cáncer. Recogido a 27 de junio en https://www.cancer.gov/espanol/cancer/causas-prevencion/riesgo/hormonas
- Stanczyk, F. Z. (2014). Treatment of postmenopausal women with topical progesterone creams and gels: are they effective?. Climacteric, 17(sup2), 8-11.
- Darstin 10 mg/gel. Recogido a 27 de junio en https://cima.aemps.es/cima/dochtml/p/55868/Prospecto_55868.html
- Progesterone, WEBMD. Recogido a 14 de agosto en https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/progesterone-uses-and-risks