Progesterone Cream

Can Progesterone Cream Actually Make a Difference?

Progesterone is an important female hormone, so you'd think that a progesterone cream would have a strong effect on your health as a woman.

In reality, there is a good reason why progesterone cream doesn't have the effect you'd expect compared to other progesterone-containing products...

What is Progesterone Cream?

It’s a beauty product, not a medication – progesterone cream is available for use as a beauty product only and is not for as a medication as part of any medical treatments. The difference between progesterone as a beauty product and progesterone as medication is that you can only get medication through a prescription. Also, medications need to pass more rigorous tests to be marketed compared to beauty products. So, the purity, safety and effectiveness of progesterone cream can’t be guaranteed in the same way that medicines containing progesterone can.

What is progesterone? – progesterone is a hormone that is produced naturally in the body. It thickens the lining of the womb every month in preparation for a fertilised egg. If no fertilised egg arrives, a menstrual period occurs. If a fertilised egg arrives, the body continues producing high levels of progesterone to maintain the pregnancy. Progesterone also has a role in breastfeeding.

Why doesn’t progesterone cream work like progesterone medication? – studies have found that progesterone cream does not work very well when applied to the skin. Progesterone needs to get into the bloodstream for it to function, but when it is applied to the skin very little progesterone actually gets into the blood.

Does Progesterone Cream Have Any Health Benefits?

There is some evidence that suggests it might – progesterone cream can have some health benefits. Some studies have suggested that it can improve:

  • Hot flushes and night sweats
  • Endometriosis, a condition that can cause pain, abnormal bleeding, and disturbances to the digestive tract
  • The elasticity of the skin and appearance of wrinkles

Unfortunately, results from research that has been conducted into progesterone cream aren’t clear cut because there’s currently not enough data to draw conclusions.

What are the benefits of proper progesterone medications? – there are many potential health effects of taking progesterone-containing medications, such as progesterone-containing pills and vaginal pessaries. Progesterone has been shown to:

  • Improves symptoms of menopause – progesterone is one of the options used in hormone-replacement therapy and can improve symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats
  • Increase bone strength – progesterone can help your body build bones, which can in turn reduce the risk of getting fractures
  • Reduce inflammation – inflammation is your body’s natural reaction to an injury or infection. However, inflammation also causes pain and reduced function to the part of the body that is affected
  • Reduce blood pressurehigh blood pressure can damage your heart, kidneys, blood vessels, and other organs
  • Reduce obesity – a higher level of progesterone has possibly been linked to a lower body weight
  • Improves sleep – good quality sleep can have a number of effects on health, such as an improvement in brain function and immune system
  • Improves mood – progesterone can have a number of effects on the brain, including on your mood

Are There Any Risks to Using Progesterone Cream?

Potentially, yes – progesterone is known to cause side effects such as bloating, weight gain, or changes to the metabolism.

Some people should not take any products containing progesterone – speak to your doctor if you have:

  • Breast cancer
  • Problems with the liver
  • An increased risk of developing a clot or if you have developed blood clots in the past
  • Previously had a heart attack, stroke, or lung embolism
  • Migraines
  • Symptoms of water retention such as swelling of the feet and ankles
  • High cholesterol
  • High body mass index (over 25)

When taking progesterone products, be aware that:

  • Progesterone also should not be taken with edoxaban (a blood thinner) or venetoclax (a chemotherapy medicine)
  • Progesterone cream is not to be taken another way, such as by mouth
  • Misusing or taking too much progesterone can cause symptoms such as headache, dizziness, or sweating

Wasting money – it’s not clear whether progesterone cream have all of the health benefits that is advertised as there hasn’t been enough research done into it. So, there is a risk that using progesterone cream is only wasting money.

Alternatives to Progesterone Cream

There are some alternatives to progesterone cream – speak to a doctor or pharmacist to see if you can benefit from some of these.

  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – a treatment to reduce the symptoms of menopause. HRT aims to replace oestrogen or progesterone as the body stops to produce these when a woman goes through the menopause
  • Acne treatment – medicines such as benzoyl peroxide or a retinoid is commonly prescribed for the treatment of acne
  • Fertility treatments –examples for treating infertility include medicines to induce ovulation, hormones, surgery, or assisted conception
  • PMS treatment – these can range from lifestyle changes (small meals 2-3 hours apart with a lot of carbohydrates, regular sleep, regular exercise, stopping smoking, reducing alcohol, and reducing stress) to medication (the Pill or painkillers such as ibuprofen or naproxen). Some women can even benefit from psychological therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or a type of antidepressants known as SSRIs
  • Endometriosis treatment – examples of medicines to treat endometriosis include painkillers such as ibuprofen or naproxen, hormonal contraception, or other hormone therapy
  • ‘Natural progesterones’ – there are products called “natural progesterones” which are made from plant products which mimic the progesterone that is produced by the body. However, we don’t recommend this type of treatment as they’re not regulated and it’s not yet clear how safe they are.
  • Dietary supplements – some herbal alternatives are marketed to have a similar effect to progesterone. These include:
  • Vitamin E – this can improve hot flushes
  • Soy – this can improve hot flushes
  • Black cohosh – this supposedly improves hot flushes and night sweats, although some of the data contradict
  • Red clover – this is also a product advertised to improve hot flushes and night sweats

Where Can You Buy Progesterone?

Progesterone cream can be bought online or in health stores.

Prescription medications – medicines containing progesterone is mostly available on prescription. To get your supply on prescription, you need to make an appointment with a GP who will assess whether progesterone treatment is suitable for you. If this is the case, then you will receive a prescription. Then, you can get your supply of progesterone from a pharmacy.

We do stock some medicines that contain progesterone – these products are:

  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – HRT treatment can contain progesterone, oestrogen, or a combination of both hormones
  • Contraceptive pills – regular contraceptive pills can contain just progesterone or a combination of oestrogen and progesterone

You should make an appointment with your doctor if you are worried about any conditions or issues that have been discussed in this article.


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