Progesterone For Preterm Labor: How It Prevents & Alternatives

Progesterone prevents preterm labor by preventing uterine contractions.

Written by Shreeja pillai • 
 

Preterm labor refers to labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Doctors may suggest using progesterone for preterm labor to reduce the risk of premature birth. Full-term gestation is a prerequisite for any baby to be healthy, and the ones born prematurely may encounter several developmental issues. Continue reading this post as we explain whether or not progesterone is safe for the said purpose and other facts related to the medication.

What Is Progesterone?

The typical female hormone plays a pivotal role during pregnancy. It aids in stimulating various vital functions in the body. Your ovaries and adrenal glands produce the hormone, which allows your body to get prepared for conception and pregnancy. It also regulates your monthly menstrual cycle and helps to promote sexual desire (1).

Progesterone For Preterm Labor: It’s Role And Prevention

In early pregnancy, Progesterone helps in your uterus growth and protects you from severe contractions. If you experience repetitive contractions during your initial days of pregnancy, it can often lead to miscarriage. In the later stages of pregnancy, progesterone shots help in the production of breast milk and enhance your lung health. As a result, your lung supplies an adequate amount of oxygen to the growing fetus.

Progesterone Treatments That Doctors Prescribe

1. Vaginal progesterone:

When you carry a single baby in your womb, vaginal progesterone reduces the risk of premature birth. It treats the condition of a short cervix and helps you step towards a healthy childbirth.

2. Progesterone shots:

If you already have a history of miscarriage or premature birth, your doctor may suggest you to take Progesterone shots. It helps in minimizing the risk of premature birth.

But when you carry twins and triplets, doctors may never recommend you to undergo the progesterone treatment. It is advisable to consult your GP to know if progesterone injection for preterm labor is required (2).

Details About Progesterone Shots

The progesterone shots, also called 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17P), may help you overcome the risk of premature birth. As you had a spontaneous premature birth in your previous pregnancy, your doctor may suggest you to take Progesterone shots for the latest one.

The term spontaneous implies that your labor began suddenly without the intake of any medications or methods. The sac carrying your baby broke suddenly, and you began having labor pain.

The doctor begins Progesterone shots to prevent preterm labor between your 16 and 24 weeks of pregnancy, and you have to take one shot per week until you reach the 37th week. Researchers conclude that Progesterone shots may help you overcome the risk of preterm labor. Doctors may give the shots in your buttocks using a syringe and needle.

What Are Progesterone Suppositories?

One of the other ways to intake Progesterone is through vaginal insertion. It comes in three forms –tablet, gel, and suppository. You may not suffer from any pain while taking such suppositories through your vagina.

You have to place the suppository into the vagina twice or thrice a day for up to ten weeks. With the gradual passage of time, the Progesterone suppositories dissolve. It is quite safe and an efficient method to avoid preterm labor.

Side Effects Of Progesterone Suppositories

Progesterone suppositories include the female hormone that works by altering your uterine lining. Some of the common side effects of Progesterone suppositories are:

1. Vomiting:

One of the most common side effects of Progesterone suppositories is vomiting, and you can also experience severe nausea and stomach pain. You may get abdominal cramps caused due to bloating. Some pregnant women also suffer from severe constipation.

2. Vaginal Bleeding:

You may also experience pelvic cramping and mild vaginal bleeding with the intake of Progesterone suppositories. When you place the suppository in your vagina, you may also feel a burning sensation or irritation. Your breasts become tender, and you suffer from persistent headaches.

3. Excessive Tiredness:

Intake of Progesterone suppositories can make you feel excessively tired, irritable and moody.

4. Severe Depression:

Excessive intake of Progesterone suppositories may worsen your mental condition and make you feel depressed.

5. Cerebrovascular Changes:

You may rarely feel these adverse effects. But some of the common signs of Cerebrovascular changes during pregnancy are difficulty in speaking, sudden vomiting, and dizziness, weakness in an arm or leg or experiencing a stroke. In any of these circumstances, seek medical help immediately.

6. Blood Clots:

Rarely you can experience clotting of blood as an adverse effect of Progesterone suppositories. Some of the common symptoms of blood clots may include coughing up blood, severe chest pain, and difficulty in breathing (3).

Natural Ways To Prevent Preterm Labor

Prepare for a healthy childbirth by following these simple tips:

1. Be Active:

  • During pregnancy try to perform gentle activities to maintain healthy muscle strength and power.
  • If you had a practice of exercising regularly, try to keep yourself engaged in certain light exercises during pregnancy.
  • Avoid performing strenuous physical activities like weight-lifting or swimming during the last trimester.
  • Practice exercises which impose less pressure on your lower abdomen.

2. Follow Hygiene Etiquette:

  • In later stages of pregnancy, you may have an increased urge to urinate. Therefore, you need to pay utmost emphasis to hygiene, as it can protect you from urinary tract infections.
  • Harmful infections can cause your fetal membrane to rupture suddenly, and may result in preterm labor.
  • You can wear cotton panties, and wash your hands with antibacterial soap each time you use the toilet.

3. Prenatal Vitamins:

  • You may have to take multivitamin capsules to restore your health conditions and overcome the risk of preterm labor.

4. Eat Well-Balanced Diet:

  • Your body should get a constant supply of healthy nutrients and minerals for optimum growth of your fetus.
  • Medical experts may advise you to eat small meals at regular intervals of time. Instead of eating three large meals, you can have five meals a day regularly.

5. Urinate Regularly:

  • When you feel the urge to urinate, do not hesitate to visit the toilet as it may lead to cystitis.
  • If your urinary bladder gets inflamed, it can stimulate sudden uterine contractions leading to preterm labor (4).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can oral progesterone prevent preterm labor?

According to a study, oral progesterone effectively prevents perinatal morbidity and preterm birth (5).

2. Can the cervix lengthen with progesterone?

As per a study, for women who are in the high-risk category, progesterone might increase or aid in the preservation of cervical length (6).

Progesterone is a vital hormone during pregnancy. If your doctor recommends progesterone for preterm labor, it may be due to a previous record of premature birth or the presence of other factors related to preterm birth. Ask your ob/GYN about the details of the procedure and the efficacy and safety of the natural home remedies to prevent preterm labor before proceeding with them. Knowing the different forms of progesterone treatment and its common possible side effects may help you stay informed and prepared.

 

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