Progestogens, also known as progestins, are a group of hormones that includes progesterone, a naturally occurring hormone, and various synthetic forms used in hormonal contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy.
Progesterone is produced by the ovaries following ovulation each month and plays a significant role in regulating the menstrual cycle and maintaining pregnancy.
In the menstrual cycle, after an egg is released from an ovary (ovulation), progesterone helps prepare the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to receive and nurture the fertilized egg. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, progesterone levels drop, leading to menstrual bleeding.
If a pregnancy does occur, progesterone is crucial in maintaining the pregnancy and stimulating breast tissue growth in preparation for breastfeeding. It also helps prevent the immune system from rejecting the newly implanted embryo.
Synthetic progestogens, or progestins, are used in a variety of hormonal treatments. For example, they’re a key component of most forms of hormonal birth control, including pills, patches, and intrauterine devices (IUDs). They can also be used in hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women to help reduce certain symptoms and health risks.
Like all hormones, progestogens can have side effects and health risks, which vary depending on the specific form of progestogen and how it’s used. Some of these side effects can include mood changes, bloating, headaches, and an increased risk of certain types of cancer. However, for many people, the benefits of progestogen-containing treatments outweigh these risks.