Progesterone can cause cramping for various reasons. Women with normal amounts of this hormone in their bodies may experience cramps during menstruation, which is brought on by progesterone. Those taking extra doses of this hormone because of a deficiency, or for any other reason may also find that cramping is a common side effect, whether due directly to the hormone, or to the pregnancy that may result from taking it.
Typically, there must be a good balance of both estrogen and progesterone in order for the menstrual cycle to work as it should. Estrogen is responsible for ovulation occurring, while progesterone is in charge of menstruation beginning, as it makes sure the uterine lining has plenty of blood vessels in case an egg is fertilized and needs to implant. If an egg is not fertilized, the lining will be shed, resulting in menstruation. One of the most common signs that menstruation is approaching is the onset of menstrual cramps, so this is one way in which progesterone can cause cramping naturally.
Many women who are trying to conceive may find that their level of this hormone is low, which can make it difficult or even impossible to maintain pregnancy. Once they begin ingesting progesterone supplements, they may find that cramping is a side effect. If the addition of this hormone to their diet results in the desired outcome of pregnancy, they may experience cramping as well. This is because the implantation of a fertilized egg often causes cramps, which is why most women taking this kind of supplement may have trouble determining if the cramping they feel early on is due to the extra hormones or pregnancy.
Whether a woman is taking additional progesterone in order to achieve pregnancy or to eliminate certain menopause symptoms, she might find that cramping is to be expected. Not only is regular cramping a direct side effect of the supplement, but constipation is, as well. This can often result in stomach cramps, adding to the chances that a woman taking this kind of hormone for any reason may suffer from cramps.
Does Progesterone Cause Cramping During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy brings on a slew of odd and sometimes worrisome pains. But, more often than not, pregnancy cramps are perfectly normal. As we mentioned before, in some cases, progesterone is the cause, while in others, it could help make the cramps better.
In the first few weeks of pregnancy, the increased progesterone levels prepare your uterus for implantation, just as it would for menstruation. However, since implantation occurs, your cramps can feel slightly stronger than usual.
In many cases, implantation bleeding will accompany the cramping. Although it can be a bit concerning to see, that bit of bleeding is the result of the egg implanting.
Other pregnancy pains that might feel like cramps are Braxton-Hicks contractions. These “false contractions” actually have several causes. One of the most common causes is dehydration, which is why drinking plenty of water during pregnancy is crucial.
In some cases, a progesterone supplement can help ease Braxton-Hicks and early contractions. However, before taking one, talk to your doctor first.
Once you become pregnant, your body ramps up its production of progesterone and other chemicals. These changes are what allow your body to shift and make room for a baby. One thing progesterone does is allow your ligaments to loosen.
As your ligaments loosen and stretch, you might start to feel pain and cramping. As with implantation cramping, these are completely normal. However, unlike implantation cramps, these can continue throughout your pregnancy.
Does Progesterone Cause GI Cramps?
Uterine cramping is a typical result of increased progesterone levels. However, high progesterone can cause other pains similar to cramps, especially around and during menstruation. Specifically, it can cause pain in your gastrointestinal tract.
Many women suffer from bad gastrointestinal troubles during their periods. This is due to increased progesterone causing your GI tract to slow down. When your GI tract slows down, you could become constipated, which is often accompanied by stomach pain and cramps.
Treatment for Cramps
When progesterone is the leading cause of your cramps, your doctor might be able to help. Hormonal birth control is effective for treating cramps because it alters your hormone levels.
If your cramping happens around mid-cycle, it’s likely due to ovulation. A progesterone supplement or hormonal birth control pill can help ease those cramps, too.
Regular over-the-counter pain killers can provide some relief. For best results, take them around the time you expect to start cramping. If your cycle isn’t that predictable, take the pain relievers at the first sign of cramps.
Finally, regardless of the cause of your cramps, drinking plenty of water will almost always help. Although it won’t alter your progesterone levels, it can help lessen your cramps’ severity.
Reasons You Might Need a Progesterone Supplement
Progesterone is a common culprit for cramps and other pains. Yet, there are some instances in which your doctor might prescribe a progesterone supplement.
To Regulate Your Period
A regular period requires a careful balance of hormones. When that balance is off, you could end up with irregular or missed periods. Your doctor might prescribe hormonal birth control or a progesterone supplement to correct the problem.
To Prepare for Pregnancy
If you’re undergoing any type of assisted reproduction, your doctor will likely prescribe a progesterone supplement. In vitro fertilization affects your body’s ability to make progesterone. In addition, many women who opt for frozen embryo implantation have no progesterone at all. In both cases, a supplement will help prepare your uterus for egg implantation.
To Correct an Imbalance
Your doctor might prescribe a progesterone supplement if you suffer from a hormonal imbalance. There are many reasons why you might have an imbalance. But typically, a supplement will help correct it if you have low progesterone.
What Are Some Other Progesterone Side Effects?
In addition to cramping, progesterone can have some other side effects. If you’re taking a progesterone supplement or think you suffer from an imbalance, keep an eye out for the following:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Urination problems
- Changes or lumps in your breasts
These are just a few potential side effects of progesterone. Most of them are pretty rare. In general, taking a progesterone supplement under your doctor’s supervision is perfectly safe. However, if you happen to notice any changes or side effects, let your doctor know so they can act accordingly.