It’s a common belief that if a woman has had a miscarriage and is trying to conceive again, the hormone progesterone may assist. However, new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that progesterone may actually have the opposite effect.
Progesterone is essential for achieving and maintaining a pregnancy and is naturally found in the ovaries and placenta, so researchers had always assumed that increasing the levels of progesterone in a woman’s body would boost her chances of becoming pregnant.
As reported by Latinos Health and Live Science, researchers from the University of Birmingham in England conducted a study on 826 women to see if progesterone had any effect on their ability to conceive.
The researchers tested women ages 18 through 39, all of whom had experienced at least one unexplained miscarriage in the past and who were actively trying to conceive again. The researchers provided the women with either a 400 mg vaginal progesterone supplement, or with a placebo supplement. If a subject was able to conceive, the supplement was still provided up until the 12th week of pregnancy.
When the study concluded, researchers found that 65.8% of women with the progesterone supplement had successfully given birth, and 63.3% of women who had been given the placebo had successfully given birth as well.
In other words, there was only a very slight difference in the likelihood of maintaining a healthy pregnancy with extra progesterone, and this small discrepancy is not enough to conclude that progesterone possesses a significant advantage for women who are trying to conceive.
While extra progesterone can’t hurt a woman, it seems that this may not be a worthwhile investment for any women who are hoping to get pregnant.
In the U.S. today, it’s estimated that around 6.7 million women have an impaired ability to become pregnant or to maintain a healthy pregnancy, and only two in every five women who are hoping to have a baby will have been able to do so by age 40.