Progesterone is the body’s natural pregnancy hormone – it protects the pregnancy. For decades it has been debated whether certain pregnancy complications could be caused by a deficiency of natural progesterone. In particular, recurrent miscarriages and premature delivery have been associated with reduced progesterone. Many women will have taken progesterone before in the form of the oral contraceptive pill, but are less familiar with using progesterone during pregnancy.
A recent study of progesterone in women with recurrent miscarriages has shown that taking progesterone in early pregnancy does not improve pregnancy outcomes. As such, even though many specialists prescribe progesterone for women with recurrent miscarriages, it does not appear to make any difference.
However, vaginal progesterone pessaries have been proven to reduce the risk of premature delivery in high-risk woman. The 2 groups of women who benefit from progesterone treatment are women with a previous premature baby or women who are found to have a short cervix on ultrasound scan (www.shoreforwomen.com.au/my-cervix-is-short).
Progesterone pessaries are usually commenced between 16 and 24 weeks and used once per night until 34 weeks. They can occasionally cause some vaginal discharge but have not been shown to have any harmful fetal effects. Progesterone tablets are not used in pregnancy.