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Why Would I Need to Take Progesterone with IVF?

Progesterone is often used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, but what exactly does it do?

First, it may help to understand what exactly this “pregnancy hormone” is. Progesterone is a naturally-occurring hormone that’s produced by your ovaries to prepare your body for pregnancy. That means it thickens the uterine lining so a fertilized egg can successfully implant there.

When you are taking certain fertility drugs to prevent premature ovulation during IVF, your progesterone levels drop. So your fertility doctor may prescribe a progesterone supplement to make up for that decrease and help the embryo implant successfully. In fact, research on IVF has shown that cycles that use progesterone have higher success rates than those that don’t use the hormone.

One safety note on progesterone: natural progesterone is considered safe for use during pregnancy. However, synthetic progesterone—which is derived from the male hormone testosterone—has been found to be potentially associated with birth defects. So only natural progesterone should be used during early pregnancy.

Still looking for more information on the connection between progesterone and IVF treatments? Check out this video, where Dr. Elena Yanushpolsky of the Center for Infertility and Reproductive Services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital discusses its use with IVF.

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