What Happens if You Take Progesterone Without Estrogen? Understanding the Equation

Monali Sharma
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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what happens if you take progesterone without estrogen

Reproductive hormones see a significant fluctuation during the Menopausal transition among women.

The abnormal Hormone levels lead to a range of discomforting symptoms such as hot flashes, and night sweats, mood changes, and irregular menses.

Hormone Replacement Therapy(HRT) is a prevalent treatment approach to tackle these symptoms.

Progesterone and Estrogen Hormones are two hormones that are considered for this therapy.

They are, however, known to work best when taken together, i.e., as a combination HRT.

So, what happens if you take Progesterone without Estrogen?  

Let’s understand their working mechanism and find out.

Progesterone and Estrogen as a Combination Hormone Therapy

The Menopausal symptoms are not necessarily severe and can be managed significantly using lifestyle interventions in some cases.

However, the symptoms are often bothersome and warrant a medical intervention.

The most effective treatment option for Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) and Vasomotor Symptoms (VMS) is Menopausal Hormone therapy.

GSM refers to vulvovaginal, sexual, and lower urinary tract symptoms related to Menopause and hot flashes and night sweats are VSMs

Estrogen-Progesterone Therapy(EPT) is one commonly prescribed Combination Hormone Therapy.

EPT demonstrates effectiveness in managing Menopausal symptoms both during the transition phase and after Menopause.

Using Estrogen and Progesterone for 5+ years significantly increases breast cancer risk, which rises with longer use. Regular cancer screenings are advised for prolonged EPT users.

What happens if you take Estrogen without Progesterone

what happens if you take progesterone without estrogenSource: @gettyImages
Progesterone without estrogen

A woman who desires HRT and has an intact uterus must have Progesterone with Estrogen to protect her uterus from Endometrial Hyperplasia(increased uterus lining thickness).

Endometrial Hyperplasia can cause heavy bleeding and raise the risk of Endometrial and Uterine cancer.

Progestogens thin the endometrium and stabilize the abnormal lining proliferation caused by Estrogen alone, thus neutralizing Endometrial Hyperplasia.

Therefore, Estrogen and Progestogen are administered in combination.

Hysterectomy, i.e., the removal of the uterus, typically eliminates the need for Progesterone. Hormone Therapy focuses on the use of Estrogen alone in such cases.

What happens if you take Progesterone without Estrogen

Woman in anxietySource: Valerii_Honcharuk
Woman in anxiety (mood change)

Progesterone finds its usefulness in mitigating risks associated with Estrogen only therapy.

Hence, Progesterone alone doesn’t indicate any usefulness or harm in the context.

However, It is used in an individual capacity to alleviate other Menopausal symptoms, such as sleep disturbance and mood instability.

A few other conditions and situations where Progesterone is beneficial include:

  •  Amenorrhea (absence of periods during the reproductive years)
  • Assisted reproductive technology treatment (IVF and ICSI)
  • Endometrial Hyperplasia unrelated to Estrogen therapy
  • Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding(DUB), i.e., abnormal genital tract bleeding

However, It is advised against self-administering Progesterone, as it can result in elevated hormone levels and an increased likelihood of developing breast cancer.

There are also other side effects associated with excess Progesterone, including:

  • Fluid retention
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches
  • Mood changes 
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Back pain
  • Hypotension and dizziness
  • Hypercoagulation (too much clotting of blood)

Hence, if there is no longer a need for Estrogen, it would be reasonable to discontinue Progesterone as well.

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In conclusion, Progesterone and Estrogen are used in tandem as a part of Hormone Replacement Therapy to alleviate Menopausal symptoms.

Estrogen thickens the uterus lining, increasing the risk of Endometrial and Uterine cancer.

Progesterone stabilizes the abnormal lining proliferation caused by Estrogen, thus counterbalancing the effect of Estrogen.

Hence Progesterone is a must for women seeking Estrogen hormone therapy to protect the uterus.

But, in cases where Estrogen is not required, the balancing effect of Progesterone is also not needed.

However, in separate treatment regimens, Progesterone is used in an individual capacity.

Such instances include managing Amenorrhea (absence of periods during the reproductive years), IVF, and Endometrial Hyperplasia unrelated to Estrogen.

Progesterone also shows positive effects on sleep disturbance and mood instability.

However, it is important to be aware that elevated Progesterone levels may increase the likelihood of breast cancer and other side effects.

Hence Progesterone should only be used under the guidance and supervision of a medical professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you take Progesterone without Estrogen?

Typically, Progesterone and Estrogen are taken in combination because Estrogen alone can cause the lining of the uterus to thicken, thereby increasing the risk of Endometrial cancer. However, there are instances where Progesterone may be taken independently without Estrogen, including treatment of Amenorrhea and abnormal genital tract bleeding.

What happens to Estrogen when you take Progesterone?

Progesterone regulates the effect of Estrogen on other tissues and organs. It also helps counterbalance the risks of Estrogen Therapy. Estrogen alone can heighten the risk of endometrial cancer by thickening the uterine lining, but Progesterone helps thin it, reducing this risk. 

Which is more important: Estrogen or Progesterone?

Estrogen and Progesterone are equally vital in maintaining the body’s healthy functioning. In the context of Hormone Therapy, Progesterone is used to counter the risk of Uterine and Endometrial cancers associated with Estrogen usage. However, they can also be taken individually depending on the targeted symptoms.

Is it OK to just take Progesterone?

Yes, Progesterone can be taken on its own. It has demonstrated effectiveness in addressing abnormal periods, vaginal bleeding, treating Endometrial Hyperplasia, and managing sleep and mood disturbances. However, it is essential to note that there are potential side effects associated with its use, so seeking medical guidance before opting for Progesterone is recommended.

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