Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue similar to that which forms the lining of the uterus continues to grow outside of the uterine cavity. This tissue is referred to as the endometrium and in the case of endometriosis, it continues to grow on the ovaries, the lining of the pelvis, and even the intestines. When endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus, it is referred to as an endometrial implant.
These endometrial implants are still affected by the hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle, causing these areas to become inflamed and painful. Due to the inflammation, this tissue of the implants will thicken and break down. Once the tissue is broken down, it is trapped in the pelvis region which can cause a variety of problems such as adhesions, severe internal scarring, severe pain, and fertility complications.
Because endometriosis is a condition tied to and affected by hormonal changes, it is commonly treated with hormone therapy.
Progesterone for Endometriosis: What to Know
Progesterone is prescribed for endometriosis because research shows that, when taken continuously, it can thin the lining of the uterus as well as thin endometrial lesions outside the uterus itself. Amanika Kumar, MD, a gynecologic oncologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota states that, “Progesterone can quiet the endometrial tissue in the abdomen,” by limiting its growth.
Unfortunately, the exact causal effect is not fully understood. Studies on rodents published in PLoS One in October 2016 found that introducing progesterone to mice limited the progression of endometriosis and decreased inflammation.
Types of Progesterone for Endometriosis
Progesterone comes in two different forms: progestin (synthetic) and progesterone (bio-identical and derived from plant material).
For endometriosis, it is usually best to take the bio-identical form of the hormone because it is molecularly identical to your natural hormones, meaning the body can recognize it as it’s own hormone. Anita Sadaty, MD, a gynecologist in Roslyn, New York encourages physicians to prescribe bio-identical progesterone over synthetic, stating that, “Natural progesterone has far more anti-inflammatory properties, fewer side effects, and is very versatile in how it can be used.”
Progesterone Creams vs Progesterone Pills
Bio-identical progesterone can be applied topically as a cream or taken as a pill. Which one is more effective? Some studies indicate that pills may be more effective but many have experienced a reduction in their symptoms and inflammation from bio-identical progesterone creams.
The important thing to note with progesterone cream, as with any hormonal cream, is it may rub off onto your bedding or clothing and then expose other members of your household to these hormones. Although this may not cause serious issues, it is something to consider when deciding between progesterone pills and creams.
Endometriosis is an incredibly difficult condition to manage, but you are not alone. At Holtorf Medical Group, our board-certified physicians have decades of experience in treating conditions associated with hormonal dysfunction. We can help you successfully manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Book your appointment today.