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Progesterone during IVF and pregnancy

25.8.2023 · 4 min reading
Progesterone during IVF and pregnancy thumbnail

Progesterone is a female reproductive hormone. Its production begins in small amounts already during the maturation of the follicles, increases after the formation of the corpus luteum and rises steeply in pregnancy.

The corpus luteum produces progesterone in the so-called luteal phase of the cycle, a period of about 12-16 days from ovulation to the onset of menstruation, during which the uterine lining prepares for the fertilized egg to nest in the uterus.

Progesterone is normally found in the human body, but it can also be supplied to the body artificially. Today, the pharmaceutical market can offer women drugs that contain a substance as similar as possible to the human hormone, the so-called natural conjugated progesterone.

Placenta as a significant source of progesterone

It’s probably not news to you that the placenta is formed early in pregnancy and supports fetal development until birth, but you may not know exactly what role the amniotic fluid plays in the production of this important reproductive hormone.

“In the 6th week of pregnancy, the placenta begins to produce progesterone in sufficient quantities, and by the 12th week its production of progesterone is already quite sufficient,” explains Europe IVF doctor Marina Tomilova, who has extensive experience in gynaecological endocrinology, reproductive medicine and obstetrics.

It is the placenta that replaces the corpus luteum in the production of hormones that maintain pregnancy. It produces progesterone and estrogens. Their levels rise until the end of pregnancy, when they peak.

Supporting progesterone production in IVF

Doctor Marina Tomilova further mentions the 3 most common situations in which women are usually given progesterone to support pregnancy.

Progesterone in Europe IVF

“Based on numerous studies and our own experience, we have found that when using assisted reproduction methods, it is best to supplement progesterone vaginally,” Marina Tomilova further says, adding: “As a standard, we recommend 800 milligrams a day. We mostly use vaginally administered natural conjugated progesterone, such as Progesterone Bessins, Utrogestan and Amelgen.” These products are directly aimed at women who are undergoing assisted reproduction and need more progesterone.

“Medical studies have shown that low progesterone levels on the day of embryo transfer reduce the chances of pregnancy,” Tomilova further states. So at the Europe IVF clinic, doctors started monitoring progesterone levels on the day of embryo transfer and found that about a third of patients have lower levels, which fortunately is not a cause for panic. This situation has a solution.

Supplying progesterone can save the IVF cycle

“If on the day of the embryo transfer, especially in patients in non-ovulatory cycles, we find that hormone levels are not sufficient, we are able to save the cycle by adding progesterone.” There are two ways, “Either we increase the dose of the vaginally used drug, or we can add a drug with a different route of administration, such as Prolutex, which is injected under the skin. This is the solution we take when we know that the dose of progesterone administered was high, but the blood level does not correspond to it. For us, this is usually a signal that the drug has not been absorbed sufficiently from the vagina, which can happen.” But thanks to their experience, doctors know exactly how to proceed so that treatment can continue.

In the more than a decade of the Europe IVF clinic’s existence, doctors here have performed more than 9,000 embryo transfers – with a great success rate. With an average treatment success rate of 68%, the clinic is now one of the world’s leading centres for assisted reproduction. It has already helped thousands of couples fulfil their wish to become parents and we would be happy to help you too.

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