Bioidentical progesterone is often prescribed if a woman has a normal menstrual cycle and then stops having periods for no obvious reason. During pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester, progesterone supplements can help maintain gestation. Progesterone is also prescribed in postmenopausal women during hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
What is progesterone?
Progesterone is a steroid hormone made by the ovaries, and in small amounts, the adrenal glands and nerve cells during ovulation in the menstrual cycle. It plays an important role in regulating the effects of estrogen and in stimulating bone production.
Bioidentical progesterone means that the hormone which is created in a laboratory is identical to what the body would normally produce on its own. Bioidentical progesterone often is derived from plant fats and oils extracted from soybeans or from herbs such as wild yam.
Serious Side Effects of Bioidentical Progesterone
Whilst as yet there is no definitive data on what side effects bioidentical hormones are responsible for, there have been complaints that range from the severe to relatively mild. If you experience the following side effects as a result of taking bioidentical progesterone, contact your doctor immediately. Given that progesterone works to increase blood clotting, it can contribute to:
- Increased risk of heart attack
- Blood clots in the lungs and legs
- Chest pain
- Blurred vision or loss of vision
- Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
- A sudden shortness of breath
- Unexpected vaginal bleeding
- Breast lumps
- Headaches and migraines
- Uncontrollable shaking
Less Severe Side Effects of Bioidentical Progesterone Replacement
Bioidentical hormones can also be responsible for a host of less serious side effects, which should nevertheless be reported to your doctor if experienced over time:
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal discharge
- Problems with urination
Because some people taking bioidentical progesterone may experience dizziness or drowsiness, it should therefore not be taken before driving or operating heavy machinery.
Interactions between Bioidentical Progesterone and Other Medicines
Some brands of bioidentical progesterone contain peanut oil and may trigger a life-threatening allergic reaction in people who are allergic to peanuts. Women over the age of 65 who take progesterone supplements as part of HRT are also at an increased risk of developing dementia, and women who suffer from depression may also experience a worsening of depression symptoms while taking progesterone supplements.
Bioidentical progesterone can create a dependence in the body on administered hormones, to the point where it slows down production of its own natural supply. The consequence of this is, if your hormones are not being secreted in proper amounts because they are artificially dependent, the body will age unnaturally fast.
After becoming aware of the risks and side effects of bioidentical progesterone replacement therapy, many women err on the side of caution and forgo the treatment. However, this does not condemn anyone to a life of hormonal imbalance. A broad range of alternatives exist to treat the symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Click here to learn more about alternatives to bioidentical progesterone replacement therapy.
Having identified the potential side effects of bioidentical progesterone replacement therapy, take some time to review the following section, which focuses on bioidentical testosterone replacement therapy.