Progesterone Cream & Breastfeeding
During a woman's childbearing years, progesterone plays a vital role in preparing her body for pregnancy, and subsequently, in sustaining a pregnancy. After childbirth, a woman's progesterone level plummets. In some women, progesterone levels remain low until she weans. For this reason, some women choose to use a progesterone cream as a supplement.
When you become pregnant, the placenta takes over progesterone production from the ovarian follicle that produced your egg. Progesterone production remains high for the duration of pregnancy; during this time, it prohibits further ovulation as well as prepares your mammary glands for milk production by stimulating their growth. Once you deliver the baby -- as well as the progesterone-producing placenta, called the afterbirth -- it takes your body just three to four days to return to prepregnancy levels of progesterone.
Progesterone & Prolactin
Wild Yam for Fertility
After you give birth, prolactin becomes the dominant hormone for milk production. Research by Dr. C. Matthew Peterson from the University of Utah College of Medicine finds that prolactin and progesterone compete for the same receptors in the human body 5. When progesterone binds to prolactin receptors, it prevents your breasts from making milk. For this reason, wait until your milk supply is established -- on average four weeks after delivery -- before using a progesterone cream. It is safe for babies, as it is not passed into a mother's breast milk.
- After you give birth, prolactin becomes the dominant hormone for milk production.
Benefits of Progesterone Cream for Nursing Mothers
Using a progesterone supplement benefits your physical and mental health. Progesterone supplements -- both oral medications and creams -- help alleviate vaginal dryness. This condition is common for both postpartum and postmenopausal women. If your menstrual cycle returns while still breastfeeding, progesterone cream helps to regulate your cycle and help you avoid anovulatory cycles in which your body does not produce a viable egg for fertilization 6. A 1994 study published in "BMJ" found women who took a progesterone supplement were less likely to develop postpartum depression, also known as the "baby blues"; however, not all experts agree. Doctors Diana Dell and Nada Stotland tell MedPage today studies touting the benefits of progesterone supplements as a cure for postpartum depression and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) fall short.
- Using a progesterone supplement benefits your physical and mental health.
- Progesterone supplements -- both oral medications and creams -- help alleviate vaginal dryness.
How To Take Progesterone Cream
Do Estrogen Levels Return to Normal After Breastfeeding?
Wait until your milk supply has stabilized before taking progesterone cream. In the United States, you do not need a prescription for progesterone cream; it is available over the counter under a variety of brand names. Because some women are sensitive to the cream, apply it to different areas of the body with each application; it is easily absorbed through the capillaries, so apply to to areas where you blush including your face, neck and chest. Apply the cream two to three times a day for 21 to 25 days, then do not apply it for five to seven days -- this is simulating a menstrual cycle. Talk with your doctor before beginning a progesterone cream regimen for specific dosing guidelines.
- Wait until your milk supply has stabilized before taking progesterone cream.
- Talk with your doctor before beginning a progesterone cream regimen for specific dosing guidelines.
Wild Yam for Fertility
Do Estrogen Levels Return to Normal After Breastfeeding?
How to Use Progesterone Cream for Fertility
Does Breastfeeding Cause Low Progesterone?
Hormone Cream & Weight Loss
How do I Apply Testosterone Cream for Women?
Normal Progesterone Levels During Breastfeeding
How Do I Take ZMA Anabolic Testosterone Booster?
Light Pink Spotting While Breastfeeding
Can You Increase Breast Milk Supply With Vitamins?
- "John R. Lee, MD"; FAQs About Progesterone Cream; John R. Lee, MD, et al
- "MedPage Today"; Onset of Postpartum Depression Is More Than Four-Week Phenomenon; Katrina Woznicki; August 8, 2005
- "BMJ"; Maternity Blues and Major Endocrine Changes; B. Harris et al; April 9, 1994
- "Journal of Women's Health and Gender-Based Medicine"; Comparison of Regimens Containing Oral Micronized Progesterone or Medroxyprogesterone Acetate; Lorraine Fitzpatrick, et al; May 2004
- "University of Utah"; Prolactin: Physiologic and Pathologic Associations; C. Matthew Peterson, MD; 1997
- Cycle Balance: About Progesterone
- Fugh-Berman A, Bythrow J. Bioidentical hormones for menopausal hormone therapy: variation on a theme. J Gen Intern Med. 2007;22(7):1030–1034. doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0141-4
- Han KH, Kim MK, Kim HS, Chung HH, Song YS. Protective Effect of Progesterone during Pregnancy against Ovarian Cancer. J Cancer Prev. 2013;18(2):113–122. doi:10.15430/JCP.2013.18.2.113
- Seifert-Klauss V, Prior JC. Progesterone and bone: actions promoting bone health in women. J Osteoporos. 2010;2010:845180. Published 2010 Oct 31. doi:10.4061/2010/845180
- Kaunitz AM, Manson JE. Management of Menopausal Symptoms. Obstet Gynecol. 2015;126(4):859–876. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000001058
- Regidor PA. Progesterone in Peri- and Postmenopause: A Review. Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd. 2014;74(11):995–1002. doi:10.1055/s-0034-1383297
- Stevenson S, Thornton J. Effect of estrogens on skin aging and the potential role of SERMs. Clin Interv Aging. 2007;2(3):283–297. PMID: 18044179
- Elshafie MA, Ewies AA. Transdermal natural progesterone cream for postmenopausal women: inconsistent data and complex pharmacokinetics. J Obstet Gynaecol. 2007;27(7):655-9. doi:10.1080/01443610701582727
- Benster B, Carey A, Wadsworth F, Vashisht A, Domoney C, Studd J. A double-blind placebo-controlled study to evaluate the effect of progestelle progesterone cream on postmenopausal women. Menopause Int. 2009;15(2):63-9. doi:10.1258/mi.2009.009014
- Hermann AC, Nafziger AN, Victory J, Kulawy R, Rocci ML, Bertino JS. Over-the-counter progesterone cream produces significant drug exposure compared to a food and drug administration-approved oral progesterone product. J Clin Pharmacol. 2005;45(6):614-9. doi:10.1177/0091270005276621
- Holzer G, Riegler E, Hönigsmann H, Farokhnia S, Schmidt JB, Schmidt B. Effects and side-effects of 2% progesterone cream on the skin of peri- and postmenopausal women: results from a double-blind, vehicle-controlled, randomized study. Br J Dermatol. 2005;153(3):626-34. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.2005.06685.x
- Prior JC. Progesterone for Symptomatic Perimenopause Treatment - Progesterone politics, physiology and potential for perimenopause. Facts Views Vis Obgyn. 2011;3(2):109–120. PMID: 24753856
- Pinkerton JV, Pickar JH. Update on medical and regulatory issues pertaining to compounded and FDA-approved drugs, including hormone therapy. Menopause. 2016;23(2):215–223. doi:10.1097/GME.0000000000000523
- Ratner S, Ofri D. Menopause and hormone-replacement therapy: Part 2. Hormone-replacement therapy regimens. West J Med. 2001;175(1):32–34. doi:10.1136/ewjm.175.1.32
- Rzepecki AK, Murase JE, Juran R, Fabi SG, McLellan BN. Estrogen-deficient skin: The role of topical therapy. Int J Womens Dermatol. 2019;5(2):85–90. Published 2019 Mar 15. doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2019.01.001
- Progesterone. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Database, CID=5994. 2019.
- Dalal PK, Agarwal M. Postmenopausal syndrome. Indian J Psychiatry. 2015;57(Suppl 2):S222–S232. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.161483
- "The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide To Making More Milk"; Diana West, et al; 2008
Elizabeth Falwell has been writing for the TV news industry since 2005. Her work has appeared on WXII 12 News, WMGT 41 News, NewParent.com and multiple parenting blogs. A graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University, Falwell holds a Master of Science in broadcast journalism.