The Role of Progesterone in Preventing Miscarriage

Historically, doctors have treated women in a lot of different–and sometimes dangerous–ways to try to help them from miscarrying during pregnancy. 

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For example, who can forget the famous DET pill of the 1950's, which doctors routinely prescribed to women to lower their risk of miscarrying, only to discover much later on that it actually caused horrible defects?

One of the most common medications that women have been prescribed more recently has been progesterone, which was thought to help prevent women from miscarrying by boosting their levels of the hormone in their body. But does progesterone actually work to help prevent a woman from miscarrying? 

Unfortunately, the answer looks like no, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine

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Image via Flickr/ Alagich Katya

The study, which came out in 2015, looked specifically at women who had a history of miscarriage without any known reason. For women who are losing pregnancies but are unable to determine exactly why their pregnancies are ending, the frustration and heartbreak can be unbearable. But unfortunately, the study also revealed that the progesterone that the women received did not result in more live births. 

I personally know many women who have sworn that progesterone has helped them after multiple miscarriages to stay pregnant. One popular Instagram mom blogger, Kelly Jensen, has talked publicly about her multiple losses before someone mentioned progesterone. So it's a tricky subject to talk about. On one hand, if there is something so simple that could help, of course we want women to try it. On the other hand, I would hate for any woman to have false hope if the progesterone isn't really what's helping. 

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No one can say for sure, especially for women who have had multiple losses without any medical reason, what the answer is. But studies are now showing that progesterone may not be the answer for conceiving after a miscarriage. You should, however, talk to your doctor about progesterone and see if there are any other treatments available, as well as testing to see if you have any underlying conditions that may be causing pregnancy loss. 

Did you try progesterone treatment to prevent miscarriage? 

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What do you think?

The Role of Progesterone in Preventing Miscarriage

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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4 comments

  1. Kianna says:

    I am currently 9 weeks pregnant with my first after two years of trying with my doctor. The first thing they did was test my progesterone, put me on a supplement, and re-test a week later. It was still low, so they increased it to two a day and tested a week later again, where it dropped even lower. They have me on three supplements a day now, and it’s at the appropriate level. My doctor says low Progesterone could cause a miscarriage, and after two years of TTC, what’s the harm in taking the supplements? This article seems to discourage even bothering with Progesterone, but I don’t see why if there’s even a slight chance in preventing a miscarriage!

  2. Jessica says:

    It’s a very good point, that Jennifer made before me. I have had 3 losses & 2 preemies. I benefitted from Progesterone weekly injections, (Makena). With the help of a team of Perinatologists, (rather than traditional OB/GYN’S), my last baby was able to make it to 35 weeks gestation. Many types of Progesterone treatments have been able to help women & babies since the 1950’s with plenty of studies to support this. It is misleading to present one rhetorical & cherry-picked study as proof of a drug’s successful outcome.

  3. Jessica says:

    Very good point. I have had 3 losses & 2 preemies. I benefitted from Progesterone weekly injections, (Makena). With the help of a team of Perinatologists, (rather than traditional OB/GYN’S), my last baby was able to make it to 35 weeks gestation. Many types of Progesterone treatments have been able to help women & babies since the 1950’s with plenty of studies to support this. It is misleading to present one rhetorical & cherry-picked study as proof of a drug’s successful outcome.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I think it is important to note that there is better progesterone treatment available than prescribing the same standard dose to every patient. Also, use of bioidentical progesterone is important. Progesterone levels can vary at different times during pregnancy so a standard dose for every patient does not take into account this variance. I personally have benefitted from an accurate progesterone protocol, via NaProtechnology, that uses bioidentical progesterone and tracks levels bi-weekly throughout pregnancy. The study you referenced only concludes that the benefit of progesterone suppositories during the first trimester, it does not address other methods of treatment efficacy. As a registered nurse, I think it would have been important for you to note the form of progesterone used in the study instead of making a blanket statement that all progesterone therapy is ineffective. Also, the study looked at the rate of live births based on first trimester progesterone use versus conception as you state above.

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