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Progesterone

What is progesterone?

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

It's also known as Progestins.

This can also be used for contraception; see contraceptive pill, contraceptive injection, contraceptive implant.

What does progesterone do?

Who can have progesterone?

  • This is not normally available on the NHS

How long does progesterone last?

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

How do I stay safe?

Warning

Re-using needles puts you at risk of infection.

If you’re taking this as an injection, it is important that you always use fresh needles. If you’re injecting yourself and you’re not sure where you can get fresh needles, look for a local needle exchange. These are organisations that will take used needles and replace them with fresh, sterile ones.

Used needles should be put into a dedicated sharps bin. This is a special type of bin for objects like needles and scalpels that makes it easier to dispose of them safely. You can bring the sharps bin to a needle exchange programme, some pharmacies, or your local council may offer a collection service. Make sure the bin is properly sealed before you try to take it anywhere.

If your injections are being done by a doctor or nurse, they should make sure the needles are sterile and dispose of them properly.

What kinds are there?

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, p.182, though this can result in low bone density (osteoporosis) 2. More recently, GnRH agonists have also been used for this purpose 3, p.15.

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, p.174, while others maintain that this risk is minimal or may not exist 6, p.29.

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. Link
  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. Link
  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. Link
  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. Link
  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. Link
  6. 6.
    Deutsch, Madeline B (ed.) (2016) “Guidelines for the primary and gender-affirming care of transgender and gender nonbinary people.” Link

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