What effects does it have?

What is it?

Hormone sometimes used in conjunction with oestrogen therapy and also for stopping periods.

It's also known as Progestins.

How long does it last?

Oral progesterone (pills) are taken as a daily dose; depot injections normally last around 12 weeks.

More information

There are two types of chemicals used in progesterone therapy:

  • Progesterone (usually sold in micronised form)
  • Progestins (synthetic chemicals that stimulate the body’s progesterone receptors)

Progestins (in particular, medroxyprogesterone or norethisterone) can be used to suppress menstruation 1, though this can result in low bone density (osteoporosis) 2. More recently, GnRH agonists have also been used for this purpose 3.

Sometimes when oestrogen is used to encourage breast growth, progesterone is also used, as some people have claimed that it affects breast size or shape. There is currently no clear evidence whether this is helpful 4, and NHS and private gender clinics in the UK do not normally prescribe progesterone for these purposes 5.

Some endocrinologists have also suggested that use of progesterone may lead to an increased risk of breast cancer 1, while others maintain that this risk is minimal or may not exist 6.

References

  1. 1 Seal, Leighton J (2007) “The practical management of hormonal treatment in adults with gender dysphoria,” in Barrett, J. (ed.), Transsexual and other disorders of gender identity: A practical guide to management, Radcliffe Publishing, pp. 157–190.
  2. 2 Scholes, Delia, LaCroix, Andrea Z, Ichikawa, Laura E, Barlow, William E and Ott, Susan M (2002) “Injectable hormone contraception and bone density: results from a prospective study.” Epidemiology, 13(5), pp. 581–587.
  3. 3 Seal, Leighton J (2016) “A review of the physical and metabolic effects of cross-sex hormonal therapy in the treatment of gender dysphoria.” Annals of clinical biochemistry, 53(1), pp. 10–20.
  4. 4 Wierckx, Katrien, Gooren, Louis and T’sjoen, Guy (2014) “Clinical review: Breast development in trans women receiving cross-sex hormones.” The journal of sexual medicine, 11(5), pp. 1240–1247.
  5. 5 Seal, Leighton J (2017) “Hormone Treatment for Transgender Adults,” in Bouman, W. P. and Arcelus, J. (eds.), The Transgender Handbook: A Guide for Transgender People, Their Families and Professionals, Nova Science Publishers Inc, pp. 227–249.
  6. 6 Deutsch, Madeline B (ed.) (2016) “Guidelines for the primary and gender-affirming care of transgender and gender nonbinary people.” [online] Available from: http://transhealth.ucsf.edu/pdf/Transgender-PGACG-6-17-16.pdf

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Page last updated: September 2017