Do I Need Hormone Supplements While Pregnant?

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If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and become pregnant, some healthcare providers recommend that women with PCOS take hormones during pregnancy. Typically, the hormones prescribed are estrogen and progesterone. While having PCOS doesn’t mean that you definitely need to take these hormones during the early part of your pregnancy, they are sometimes used to prevent miscarriage.

Only your healthcare provider can determine if you need to take hormone supplements during your pregnancy, but here is some information you may find useful if you do take hormone supplements while pregnant.

Which Hormones Need to be Supplemented?

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The primary hormones supporting pregnancy are progesterone and estrogen. These are the most commonly prescribed hormone supplements and will help support the fetus’ growth and development. It’s not uncommon for women with PCOS to have an imbalance of sex hormones, especially low levels of progesterone. 

How Is the Need For Hormone Supplements Determined?

If you are undergoing infertility treatment, your healthcare provider may prescribe hormone supplements as a part of your treatment regimen. They are a fairly standard part of in vitro fertilization, frozen embryo transfers, donor egg cycles, and even some injectable gonadotropin cycles. 

Your healthcare provider may measure your estrogen and progesterone levels and decide to start you on hormone supplements as a precautionary measure.

Progesterone Supplementation

Progesterone supplements come in many forms, most commonly as intramuscular injections or vaginal inserts (suppositories, tablets or adhesive gels). How you take your progesterone depends on how the medicine was ordered for you.

If you are taking injectable progesterone, take it as prescribed. Try icing the site beforehand to numb the skin, and apply heat and gentle massage afterwards to help the medicine be absorbed.

If you are taking the suppositories or tablets, you’ll need to lie down for at least a half an hour after you insert the medicine to make sure that it is absorbed into the vaginal mucosa. You may need to wear a panty liner to catch leakage. Adhesive gels need to be inserted right before activity so that they stay in place.

Estrogen Supplementation

Estrogen can also come in a few different forms, namely patches and pills. Intramuscular injections of estrogen can also be prescribed, though much less commonly. 

If you are given patches, make sure that you understand how many patches to apply and how often you should change them. Check to see if your healthcare provider prefers a particular site for the patch to be applied, though it can generally be applied anywhere you are comfortable.

If the Box Says Not to Take When Pregnant…

If you read the package inserts that accompany your medication, they sometimes say that you should avoid taking the medicine while pregnant. Hormone supplements are safe to take in early pregnancy when prescribed by a healthcare provider experienced in treating women with hormonal problems. You should certainly double-check just to make sure that you have the correct medicine. And of course, don’t hesitate to call your healthcare provider if you have any questions about your medication or treatment plan.

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