We hear so much about estrogen, but what about progestin? True, it is a synthetic hormone and has several brand names like Aygestin, Camila, Crinone, Errin, Next Choice or Prometrium to name a few. (Progesterone is the same hormone, but one that your body naturally produces). But why is progestin prescribed and what are the side affects?
First, there are a number of reasons why progestins are prescribed. Sometimes they are used to regulate the monthly cycle or to help maintain pregnancy in women who do not produce enough progesterone. It also helps prevent thickening of the lining (endometrial hyperplasia) and is used to treat pain associated with and the condition endometriosis itself. It helps treat cancer (breast, kidney, and/or uterus), by stopping tumor growth and even assists in inciting particular proteins production that causes an increase in appetite and weight (used for AIDs patients). This one list is not absolute; certainly progestins have other uses as well.
Progestins used in high doses and over long periods of time do have risks, however. Some are very serious like blood clots, heart attack, strokes, and/or liver and eye problems. The Mayo Clinic reports that these side effects are rare but as you can see, they are serious. Scientists have not conclusively proven that the aforementioned risks are strictly due to progestin or the disease that is being treated.
There are common side effects like changes in vaginal bleeding during periods, dry mouth, frequent urination and unusual thirst. These effects can be expected and do not require medical attention. However, if you experience any of the side effects listed below, please stop taking this drug and seek immediate medical help:
• Headaches or migraine;
• Loss or change in speech, coordination or vision;
• Numbness of or pain in chest, arm or leg; and
• Unexplained shortness of breath.
It is very important that any decision that a patient makes regarding progestin be weighed against benefits versus risks with the current medical conditions that they may have. Every drug has side effects and should only be taken as directed by the attending physician.