Progesterone Side Effects

by on March 6, 2012


Progesterone is a female hormone that has a wide variety of uses in gynecology. While the drug is generally considered safe, there are several side effects that patients should be aware of. Among the most serious of these are muscle pain and tenderness, severe headaches, stomach pain and sudden shortness of breath.

Common Prometrium Side Effects

The mild and most common side effects of Progesterone may include:

  • Increased incidence of acne
  • Swelling caused by fluid retention or bloating
  • Increased appetite
  • Mood changes including anxiety, depression and emotional outbursts
  • Nausea that may or may not produce vomiting
  • Hot flashes and night sweats

While these side effects are usually very mild and go away on their own during treatment, patients should always report them to their physicians if they persist for long periods of time or become increasingly bothersome. The incidence of these side effects can be avoided by taking the lowest dose of Progesterone that treats the symptoms for the shortest amount of time possible.

Serious Progesterone Side Effects


The following side effects of Progesterone are serious and should be reported to a health care professional immediately:

  • Yellowing of skin or eyes known as jaundice
  • Problems with speech or vision
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Sudden onset of shortness of breath
  • Stomach pain
  • Severe headache
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Pain in the groin, leg or chest
  • Numbness or pain in arm or leg
  • Bone or muscle pain
  • Extreme depression
  • Significant changes in vaginal bleeding during or between menstrual cycles
  • Changes in breast tissue and discharge from breasts

These side effects are very serious and can be life threatening if not treated immediately. If patients experience any signs of an allergic reaction including hives, itching, swelling of the face or difficulty breathing, they should seek immediate medical treatment by visiting an emergency room or calling for medical help.

Information to Report to Physicians

In order to prevent some of the most serious Progesterone side effects, women with any of the following conditions should tell their physicians about them prior to taking the medication:

  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus or AIDS
  • Blood clotting disorders or previous strokes
  • Cancers of the breasts, cervix or vagina
  • Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Liver or kidney diseases
  • High blood pressure, recent heart attack or other heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Hysterectomy
  • History of miscarriages
  • Tobacco use
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Allergic reactions to progesterone, peanuts, foods, dyes, preservatives or any other medications
  • Pregnancy or attempts to become pregnant
  • Breastfeeding

Failure to report any of these conditions or activities to physicians can result in serious side effects that can become life-threatening very quickly. Physicians will work with patients who have experienced any of these conditions to find the best course of treatment that will adequately treat the disorder without causing any undue harm.

In order to reduce the occurrence of side effects, the medication is not intended for women who have a history of abnormal vaginal bleeding, breast cancer, liver disease, a history of strokes or who are currently pregnant. Progesterone is a short-course drug, meaning it is generally only prescribed for periods of six to 12 days during each menstrual cycle. This reduces the number of side effects experienced and therefore reduces the risk of life-threatening illnesses. In order for the medication to be effective, women should follow their dosing schedules exactly as prescribed as closely as possible.

Progesterone in the Elderly

Progesterone should be used with caution in elderly patients due to the increased likelihood of serious side effects including liver failure, stroke and heart attack. Some studies have shown that low-dose Progesterone treatments given over a long period of time may in fact boost the mental capabilities of elderly patients who suffer from dementia. Regardless of the reason or illness, Prometrium should only be prescribed to elderly patients when the benefits of the medication clearly outweigh the risks to the patients’ health. Both patients and their caregivers should constantly monitor for serious side effects of Progesterone.

Although Progesterone and Promethium have the capability to completely transform many women’s quality of life, this medication is certainly not without its pitfalls. Anyone using Progesterone should monitor their health very closely and report any serious side effects to their physicians immediately.