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Fertility Basics: Progesterone as a Fertility Med

by Dr. Mousa Shamonki on February 19, 2016 at 1:16 pm

Fertility treatment can be confusing—and expensive, whether you have insurance or not. You may be prescribed several different types of drugs, and they can vary based on the type of treatment you’re receiving.

Progesterone, a natural hormone essential for pregnancy, is one type of medication used in fertility treatments. Examples include progesterone injections (also known as progesterone in oil), Endometrin, Prometrium, and Crinone. Progesterone is used throughout your fertility treatment cycle.

What does progesterone do?

In a natural ovulation cycel, progesterone rises just before ovulation, and causes changes in the lining of the uterus (the endometrial lining). This allows an embryo to implant in the uterus. After implantation, progesterone is essential for maintaining a healthy pregnancy until delivery.

When would I use progesterone?

You may start taking progesterone at various points in your fertility treatment, depending on the type of treatment. Regardless of when your doctor starts you on progesterone, you’ll continue using it for several weeks into your pregnancy, until the placenta starts to take over natural progesterone production.

Here’s what you can expect depending on your particular treatment:

  • You may first receive progesterone 1 – 3 days after ovulation.
  • During an IVF cycle, where an embryo is transferred soon after the eggs are retrieved, progesterone is generally started 1 – 2 days after the eggs are removed from the ovary instead.
  • During a frozen embryo transfer cycle, progesterone is started after estrogen has been used to develop the lining of the uterus, and the embryo transfer is timed with the start of progesterone.

What are the side effects?
Progesterone in oil, because it is an intramuscular injection, can cause redness, swelling, pain, and lumps at the site of the injection. It’s rare, but some people may have a mild allergic reaction to the oil component.

The other forms of progesterone (Prometrium, Crinone, and Endometrin) can cause vaginal discharge and irritation. Again, this is rare, but you can also experience an allergic reaction to one of the components in the tablet, capsule, or gel.

How can I save on my prescription?

Like most fertility drugs, progesterone is likely not covered through your insurance—or you may have a very high co-pay or coinsurance. Fortunately, there still are a few things you can do to bring down your costs.

GoodRx offers discounts at your regular pharmacy, as well as prices from MDR Pharmaceutical Care, a popular online fertility pharmacy. You can save hundreds over the course of your treatment by shopping around.

Endometrin also has a couple of manufacturer offers available. You can save up to $100 each month with the Endometrin Instant Savings Program. The manufacturer also offers an assitance program that will let uninsured patients save even more on Endometrin (and other fertility meds).

There are no manufacturer discounts available for Prometrium, Crinone, or progsterone in oil—but it’s still worth taking a look on GoodRx or asking your doctor how to find a lower price. Additionally, progesterone in oil is a generic medication, which already means you’ll be paying less.

This is part of a series of guest posts from fertility doctor Dr. Mousa Shamonki. Have any questions or requests for more information? Let us know.


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