I took Progesterone for the first time years ago, before Andrew and I were actively trying to get pregnant. I had not yet been diagnosed with PCOS, but my periods stopped suddenly, and years later had not returned. Even though no doctor would tell me why this had happened, they were all happy to attempt inducing periods with the use of Prometrium. It did not work more often than it did work.
Of course, I became much better acquainted with Progesterone after we began fertility treatments. I’ve taken it orally, as a suppository, and as an injectable. Andrew is currently giving me Progesterone injections every night, and if our transfer on Friday results in pregnancy, I will continue taking Progesterone for 10-12 weeks! So in a round-about way, I actually hope to be taking Progesterone for a while!
But it really does have some crazy side-effects. Crazy. Or maybe it’s just me that is crazy, and I am the only one who experiences these strange side-effects. But just in case that is not so, and these side-effects are common after all, I figured I should probably warn you of what you may experience while taking Progesterone. Warning: This post may contain a little TMI.
Bloating: I feel like a big ol’ blimp. That’s really the long and short of it. I feel swollen from head to toe. The swelling would be much more tolerable if it were a result of pregnancy instead of Progesterone!
skin:This is a strange thing for me, because normally my skin is incredibly dry. But since starting the Progesterone this time around, the skin on my face has gotten very oily, and I am breaking out pretty badly.
Moodiness: I vacillate between wanting to cry and being over-the-moon happy. I seem to be ultra-sensitive, and taking things personally that I normally would not. My husband has been kind enough to point this out to me. (:
Dreams: I’ve not heard from anyone else who has experienced dreams as a side-effect of Progesterone, but it is one of the main side-effects that I experience! EVERY time I’ve taken Progesterone, no matter the form (oral, suppository, injection), I experience vivid dreams. Every night. Without fail. Two nights ago I woke up sobbing. Andrew said I was screaming during the night, and he tried to wake me up but couldn’t. It felt like I dreamt all night long, and I still remember the dream… bizarre as it was! The dreams are so intense. They seem so real, and I can remember them even days later.
Insomnia: I am only sleeping a few hours each night ever since I started the Progesterone injections; however, this may be more due to the excitement regarding our approaching embryo transfer than to the Progesterone. Still worth mentioning I guess.
CONSTIPATION: This is the WORST. It is important to handle the constipation properly, and to avoid certain medications that could help with constipation, because some of those medicines are too strong. They would cause the uterus to contract and be in distress, which is obviously not good before, during, or after an embryo transfer. My doctor recommended taking Colace, which is mild enough not to interfere with the uterus; however, it has not helped me at all. Another suggestion was to drink prune juice, warmed in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Personally, I prefer just to eat a small handful of dried prunes. The warm prune juice is a little to much for me to get down! And of course, it is wise to make an effort to eat foods that are high in fiber. Here is a list of high-fiber foods that are also PCOS-appropriate:
In order to combat constipation BEFORE it begins to torture you, begin including some of the above foods in your diet, and drink lots and lots of water. I think not drinking enough was one of my problems, because once I made a consistent effort to drink more water, the constipation began to subside a bit. Also, start drinking prune juice daily (or eating prunes) BEFORE you begin Progesterone. Doing all of these things should help fight constipation before it gets out of hand. And, when the Colace my doctor recommended did not seem to help me, she suggested that I try Milk of Magnesia, which was much more effective! But be warned: The taste is HORRIBLE. Make sure the get the cherry flavored, which is slightly more bearable than the unflavored. And keep a drink nearby to help wash the taste out of your mouth after you drink the Milk of Mag. The taste makes me gag every time, but it does help!
I share all of this not to complain, but to help others who may be pursuing fertility treatments be able to be a bit more prepared than I was! It sometimes helps to know what’s coming in regards to the not-so-glamorous parts of fertility treatments. And there are LOTS of not-so-glamorous parts!
If anyone is taking Progesterone now, or has taken it in the past, and experienced different side-effects than the ones I’ve mentioned here, I would love to hear about your experience! I also plan on writing a post next week about the side-effects I’ve experienced as a result of ALL the IVF meds I’ve taken in the past few months.