Progesterone Cream: When Is It Recommended?

Progesterone creams have increased in popularity in recent years, but when is their use recommended? Read on to find out.
Progesterone Cream: When Is It Recommended?

Last update: 18 July, 2022

Progesterone is a female sex hormone that has several functions within the body. Its blood levels decrease after menopause, which causes the appearance of different alterations. Fortunately, progesterone cream helps to maintain adequate hormone levels and to alleviate certain symptoms.

The functions of progesterone are related to reproduction. In this sense, the substance is responsible for preparing the endometrium for implantation and maintenance of pregnancy until delivery. It’s also involved in other processes, such as bone resorption.

Progesterone cream uses a natural substance called diosgenin, extracted from plants such as Dioscorea villosa. Diosgenin can bind to progesterone receptors and trigger similar effects.

What is progesterone cream used for?

The findings on the use of progesterone cream are conflicting and further research is needed. However, many women report some relief from using it, so it’s worth using in the following cases.

Regulating hormone levels

One of the main uses of progesterone cream is to regulate hormone levels to minimize menopausal symptoms. At the end of a woman’s reproductive cycle, there’s a sudden decrease in sex hormones; this imbalance causes the characteristic alterations of this stage, such as hot flashes.

Oral hormone treatment has been used for many years. However, it was found to increase the probability of breast and ovarian cancer. Topical hormone treatment, however, is able to reduce the manifestations in many cases with a lower risk.

A study published in the journal Annals of Pharmacotherapy showed that progesterone cream relieves vasomotor symptoms. However, other publications state that it’s no better than a placebo, so the effect may vary in individual women.

A woman with hot flashes.
Menopausal symptoms are varied and respond to the drop in hormone concentration.

Can prevent osteoporosis

Progesterone is also involved in the process of bone resorption and remodeling, thus increasing bone density. Therefore, a decrease in this hormone during menopause increases the likelihood of osteoporosis.

In this regard, another application of the compound is to increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis. However, a study in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that use of the cream for 1 year only increases bone density by 1.2%.

Other applications

In addition to the applications already described, many women have said that progesterone cream can alleviate other ailments. Although there’s no research to support such effects, the drug could also be useful, according to anecdotal records, for the following:

How is progesterone cream administered?

Progesterone cream is available in different strengths. One of the most common is 10 mg per gram of gel.

The compound should be applied to the skin every day – a maximum of twice a day – to obtain the benefits. Women can apply the cream on the breasts, legs, neck, knees, legs, or arms.

The application area should be changed every day to avoid the appearance of local unwanted effects. In addition, it’s important to wait for the cream to dry before dressing to ensure absorption of the hormone.

Finally, its use should be alternated in menopausal women, so it’s recommended to use it 2 weeks in a row and wait 2 more weeks before the next dose. Premenopausal women should use the cream only during the last 2 weeks of the menstrual cycle.

Who should not use it?

The use of progesterone cream is contraindicated in those who are allergic to the active ingredient or to any of its components. Therefore, it’s always important to check the label and identify all the ingredients of the composition.

The cream should only be applied to healthy skin, so if you have any skin conditions, you shouldn’t use it. In addition, the compound shouldn’t be placed on mucous membranes, as it can create adverse effects such as dryness and irritation.

Fortunately, it has no effect on pregnancy or breastfeeding. In addition, it doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier, so it doesn’t affect the concentration of the hormone in the nervous system. However, it’s always recommended to consult with a specialist before starting any treatment of this type.

Side effects of progesterone cream

All drugs marketed today can generate unwanted effects in people. Progesterone cream is a safe drug that doesn’t produce noticeable adverse reactions.

Most of the side effects are cutaneous and occur in the area of application. The main symptoms reported are skin irritation, redness, and dryness.

Some people may experience systemic symptoms due to absorption of the drug. Although their incidence is minor, the following side effects may occur:

  • Weight gain
  • Headache
  • Alteration of the heart rate
  • Intense nausea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Menstrual changes
  • Drowsiness and tiredness

Finally, there are studies that establish that blood levels of progesterone after 12 days of cream use were similar to those obtained with oral intake. In this sense, prolonged use could also favor the appearance of breast cancer.

A woman with sensitive breasts.
Breast hypersensitivity occurs in some women who made prolonged use of the cream, although it isn’t a common effect.

How to store and dispose of progesterone cream?

Progesterone creams should be stored at a temperature below 25°C (77 Fahrenheit) to ensure that they maintain their properties. It’s advisable to put it in the refrigerator during the hottest months of the year.

It’s also advisable to keep the container closed after each application to prevent it from drying out and altering its consistency. In addition, it should be kept out of reach of children, in order to prevent possible accidents.

Finally, never flush  the medicine down the toilet or in the garbage, as this can cause serious environmental damage. The ideal thing is to place it in the nearest collection point in your country. If you’re not sure where to find one, consult your pharmacist about the best way to dispose of the cream.

A compound with multiple applications

The use of progesterone cream is recommended for many different conditions. In addition, it’s a very safe medication with few side effects. However, the recommended dosage should always be followed and its use should be discontinued in case of adverse effects.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Whelan AM, Jurgens TM, Trinacty M. Bioidentical progesterone cream for menopause-related vasomotor symptoms: is it effective? Ann Pharmacother. 2013 Jan;47(1):112-6.
  • Leonetti HB, Longo S, Anasti JN. Transdermal progesterone cream for vasomotor symptoms and postmenopausal bone loss. Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Aug;94(2):225-8.
  • Wardhana, Surachmanto EE, Datau EA, Ongkowijaya J, Karema-Kaparang AM. Transdermal bio-identical progesterone cream as hormonal treatment for osteoarthritis. Acta Med Indones. 2013 Jul;45(3):224-32.
  • Hermann AC, Nafziger AN, Victory J, Kulawy R et al. Over-the-counter progesterone cream produces significant drug exposure compared to a food and drug administration-approved oral progesterone product. J Clin Pharmacol. 2005 Jun;45(6):614-9.
  • Elshafie MA, Ewies AA. Transdermal natural progesterone cream for postmenopausal women: inconsistent data and complex pharmacokinetics. J Obstet Gynaecol. 2007 Oct;27(7):655-9.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.