Supplementing Pregnancy with Progesterone

It amazes me that OBs can still be resistant to testing for progesterone deficiency and treating it.  After two consecutive losses and a clean blood panel, I begged my OB to test my progesterone levels.  I was pregnant again.  Not only did she refuse to test, but she also said that even if I tested low for progesterone, she wouldn’t supplement.  Her “brilliant” idea to treat pregnancy loss was Clomid!  (You can read tons of stories about women taking Clomid and suffering miscarriages as well as being blessed and challenged with multiple gestation issues.)

I lost that baby at 10 weeks gestation.  It died a few weeks earlier.  I was devastated and so angry.  I’m still angry at that nutjob OB.  For numerous reasons I transfered to a more compassionate OB who had been through infertility with his wife and also seemed to enjoy thoughtful discussions with his patients.  Although he misdiagnosed my problem, he supported me in seeking a second opinion with a reproductive endocrinologist (RE).

The RE discovered low low low progesterone.  The RE also found adenomyosis in my uterus that was distorting the shape of my uterus.  He believes that my cesarean caused the adenomyosis.  He removed as much as he could.

I received the all clear to TTC and quickly became pregnant again.  (Becoming pregnant was never my issue.)  I began supplementing with progesterone via 17-hydroxyprogesterone shots.  An early ultrasound discovered that I was carrying twins.  (Recall the one OB’s suggestion to give me Clomid?!??!!!!!!!)

I continued the progesterone injections and weekly progesterone tests during the first trimester of that pregnancy.  My progesterone levels seemed ok on their own, but it was prudent to continue especially since specialists don’t know what a good level of progesterone is for multiple gestation.  After three consecutive losses, I carried my twins to term. :)

I accidentally became pregnant during my September 23, 2010 cycle.  I suspected it almost immediately after conception, so I began early testing.  By CD 28 I tested positive for pregnancy.  I contacted my OB’s office (my previous lovely OB died the day he cleared us to TTC in 2008) on a Friday, and was frustrated that it took until the end of the business day on Monday to get a script.  In the meantime, I contacted medical friends and even the RE’s nurse.  I was amazed that she got back to me and was still willing to advise me . . . 2 years later and from out of state.  What a blessing.

Your typical OB isn’t always well-equipped to deal with early pregnancy issues.  My OB recommended 100mg oral progesterone.  I double-checked this with the RE’s nurse, and she did NOT recommend this treatment.  My SIL also told me some sketchy stuff about oral progesterone supplementation.  The RE’s nurse said the best thing to do is either go back on the shots or do 200mg prometrium vaginally.  Since prometrium is so accessible and doesn’t require a stick in the bum, I went that route.  I also want readers to know that it took a while to straighten out the script, but by Tuesday I had what I needed thanks to a lovely independent pharmacist, the RE’s nurse, and the OB’s office following through with exactly what I requested.

I just want to offer this information up for those who are struggling to make sense of their losses.  Really, if you think you suffer from low progesterone and/or a short luteal phase, you need a medical script for progesterone supplementation.  It is unlikely that natural supplements will do the job . . . maybe for marginal progesterone?

Someone on one of my advocacy lists said that taking prometrium vaginally seemed “iffy” to her.  I must admit that irritated me, but she doesn’t know anything about me or how seriously I consider my health decisions.  Had I not been directed to this reproductive endocrinologist in 2008, I would probably not have my twins or be 16 weeks pregnant with my fourth and final baby.

4 responses to “Supplementing Pregnancy with Progesterone

  1. This post is painful to me. I have had two miscarriages, and the second time I begged my OB to check my progesterone, as it had been extremely low the previous time. She refused, saying she “wouldn’t know what to do with that information” and that she wouldn’t supplement anyway as “there is unclear evidence that it helps.” My hcg numbers rose steadily but not fast enough, and at nine weeks I finally miscarried. I sincerely believe that with more progesterone that the pregnancy would have been viable. I’m happy for you that you were able to conceive and carry these pregnancies with the aid of progesterone supplementation!

  2. I lost my baby last Monday…I have a daughter at age of 5 and had low progesterone problems at that time. I was leaving in Slovakia and was admitted to a hospital and the doctor supplemented me with progesterone. It didn’t happen in US. I was bleeding only few spots, knowing my problem, went to the ER, the doctor said “if is meant to be is meant to be”…no, progesterone low level can be treated!!! But none doctor wanted to prescribe progesterone for me. So, I lost my second child last Monday. What a negligence. Thank to the doctors from Slovakia for prescribing progesterone. I need to find a doctor in Michigan to treat my progesterone problems. What you guys think about progesterone cream?

  3. I found your blog as I was researching RE’s in Denver (where I live) who utilize progesterone supplementation for RPL. Firstly, I wanted to say thank you for so bravely sharing your story and the knowledge you’ve gained along the way. I would also really love to know which Denver RE you worked with?

    I’ve had four consecutive early pregnancy losses and have been obsessively researching RPL, and have become convinced that my progesterone levels are at least partly to blame for my RPL. I’ve read so many success stories like your own, and can’t believe that more OB GYN’s and RE’s aren’t on board with testing and treating this issue! It’s soo incredibly frustrating how confused and disorganized western medicine is regarding RPL!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this! Last week I found out that I have lost my second, this time at 11 weeks (the heart stopped around 8.5 weeks so it seems). I have a D&C scheduled next week. The day I found out I immediately told my doctor I wanted progesterone testing and he said “welll, this is controversial.” The immediate push back has me nervous that he won’t do the testing, or even worse, that he won’t know what to do with the results. I’m seeking RE in my area (Baltimore), and hope to find an answer so we can have a successful third go around in the coming months. One step at a time I guess. Regardless, THANK YOU so much for giving me hope and reassuring me that it is worth seeking other medical advice beyond my OB.

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