Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause can cause discomfort, pain, and itchiness throughout the day and especially during sex. The thinning and weakening of the vaginal walls can lead to an overall dryness of the tissues found in and around the vagina. A common solution to vaginal dryness is using hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which is made up of estrogen. However, HRT has certain risks, so progesterone is often given alongside HRT in order to lower the woman's risk of getting uterine cancer.
Progesterone is usually not given to treat menopause symptoms like vaginal dryness and hot flashes, but rather it is given along with hormone replacement therapy, which contains estrogen. The estrogen is able to get rid of many menopause symptoms. Progesterone is used along with the estrogen to decrease the likelihood of contracting uterine cancer.
Progesterone and Progestin
Progesterone is the hormone made in the body, whereas progestin is synthetically formed progesterone and is commonly used in birth control and other medical treatments, including for menopause symptoms (e.g., vaginal dryness)
Progesterone's Role in a Woman's Body
Progesterone's main role in a woman's body is to prepare her uterus for pregnancy. Like estrogen, levels of progesterone are cyclical in a woman's body. Progesterone levels usually peak towards the end of a woman's monthly cycle. However, unlike estrogen, declining levels of progesterone usually do not cause side effects.
Progesterone Is Given along with HRT
Progesterone is frequently given to women who are on hormone replacement therapy. HRT contains estrogen, and although it can mitigate some side effects of menopause such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings, and it increase risks for some diseases. Progesterone is given, because doctors believe that it will treat symptoms, and because it lowers a woman's risk of getting uterine cancer.
It is not necessary to take progesterone everyday. Usually progesterone is only taken daily for a portion of every month. Progesterone is usually prescribed in 100 mg capsules. If you have had a hysterectomy, which is the surgical removal of the uterus and may also include the removal of other reproductive organs, than you do not need to take progesterone.
Side Effects of HRT and Progesterone
Doctors usually said that women taking HRT and progesterone are at risk for reproductive cancers. Also, some side effects can include lumps or changes to the breasts or abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Using Progesterone for Vaginal Dryness
In addition to relieving vaginal dryness, HRT and progesterone can also relieve hot flashes, mood swings, and other menopausal symptoms in women. Talk to your doctor about taking progesterone and hormone replacement therapy, so you can weigh the pros and cons of the different types of treatments and find one that works for you.
- National Health Service. (2015). Progesterone. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/Medicine-Guides/Pages/MedicineOverview.aspx?condition=Hormone%20replacement%20therapy&medicine=progesterone&preparation=Progesterone%20micronised%20100mg%20capsules
- Harvard Health Publications. (2009). Perimenopause: Rocky road to menopause. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/perimenopause_rocky_road_to_menopause
- National Health Service. (2014). Hormone Replacement Therapy. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Hormone-replacement-therapy/Pages/Introduction.aspx