Progesterone use for short cervix
When you think of pregnancy hormones, your mind might go right to estrogen, and maybe also human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). But the hormone progesterone is also a major player in the pregnancy game – the body can’t maintain pregnancy without it.
What does progesterone do?
Before you even get pregnant, progesterone is hard at work preparing your uterus for pregnancy after every ovulation. Once you become pregnant, progesterone continues to help your body maintain pregnancy. It helps relax the uterine muscles and supports your body’s immune system. After about 8-10 weeks of pregnancy, progesterone stops coming from the ovaries, and is produced instead by the placenta.
What’s the link between progesterone and spontaneous preterm birth?
Cervical length is the biggest predictor of preterm birth; as the cervix begins to shorten, labor gets closer. Having a short cervix during pregnancy is a significant risk factor for spontaneous preterm birth.
Progesterone, a hormone that helps women stay pregnant, is one of the best methods of preventing too-early cervical shortening. Numerous studies have shown that progesterone supplementation in women with short cervixes can prevent spontaneous preterm birth.
In other words, if you have a short cervix, you might be given progesterone to decrease the risk of spontaneous preterm birth.
The different forms of progesterone
There are two forms of progesterone, but if you are receiving progesterone because you have a short cervix, you will receive vaginal progesterone.
Vaginal progesterone placed directly in vagina, in the form of cream, gel, or a capsule. This is prescribed to women with short cervixes who are pregnant with one baby. It gets inserted directly into the vagina much like a tampon, and is meant to be taken daily – women use it up until week 37 of pregnancy.
Is progesterone for you?
Progesterone has been proven to lengthen pregnancy and reduce the risk of spontaneous preterm birth. If you have a short cervix, progesterone might be something your provider recommends to help your pregnancy continue on as normal a timeline as possible. Your healthcare provider will be able to determine whether or not progesterone treatment would be a good idea and what form would be best for you to take.
- Shannon K Laughlin-Tommaso. “Cervical length during pregnancy: Why does it matter?” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, May 2015. Web.
- “Cervical insufficiency and short cervix.” MarchofDimes. March of Dimes Foundation, Aug 15. Web.
- Hee Joong Lee, et al. “Management of Pregnancies With Cervical Shortening” Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2(2):107-115. Web. 2009.
- Abdulrahman Sinno, et al. “A Short Cervical Length in Pregnancy: Management Options.” Am J Perinatology. Web. Jul 3 2009.