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This Hormone May Lower Risk of Miscarriage

Progesterone therapy emerges as a possible treatment option for women who have suffered recurrent miscarriages

September 27, 2019

Having a miscarriage is an extremely traumatic event and can make subsequent pregnancies especially stressful. Sadly, miscarriages are relatively common, as it affects about one in five women. 

Fortunately, new research suggests that the hormone progesterone could lower the risk of miscarriage for women with early pregnancy bleeding who have had a miscarriage in the past. 

Continue reading for more information regarding: 

  • Miscarriages, including causes and symptoms
  • The study and its results 

Miscarriages: An Overview  

MedlinePlus defines miscarriage as “the spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy.” Just as pregnancy is different for every woman, a miscarriage is a very subjective experience. While a chromosomal problem is usually responsible for the baby’s inability to develop, miscarriages can occur for a multitude of reasons, including: 

  • Issues with hormone production
  • Infection
  • Problems involving the reproductive organs
  • Serious diseases
  • Pregnancy complications, such as molar (an abnormally fertilized egg) or ectopic (egg grows outside the uterus) pregnancies 
  • Being extremely overweight or underweight 
  • Problems relating to immune response
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol 
  • Exposure to environmental toxins
  • Smoking 
What not to say and what to say when someone has a miscarriage
As with any type of loss, it’s hard to know what to say to someone who’s suffered a miscarriage. Above all, you should try to be sensitive and not minimize the person or couple’s loss. Image courtesy of Modern Loss

Signs of a miscarriage vary—at first, some women might not even realize they’ve had a miscarriage. The most common symptoms of miscarriage are bleeding and pain, specifically: 

  • Cramping, sharp pain, or a dull ache in the stomach or back
  • White-pink mucus or discharge 
  • Tissue or clot-like material passing from the vagina 
  • True contractions 
  • Brown or bright red bleeding 
  • Loss in pregnancy symptoms

Keep in mind that bleeding during early pregnancy occurs in as many as 30 percent of all pregnancies and does not always mean a miscarriage has taken place. Regardless, you should contact a healthcare professional or facility upon experiencing any of these symptoms. 

The different types of miscarriages and their definitions
Miscarriages are typically classified in five major categories: complete, incomplete, inevitable, missed, and threatened. Image courtesy of SheCares

The Study: Background, Methods, and Findings


This study was led by the University of Birmingham, which followed up on several small trials that had previously suggested that progesterone therapy could help prevent miscarriages in women who experience early pregnancy bleeding. 

Progesterone, which is found naturally in the female body, is sometimes called “the pregnancy hormone” because of its key role in preparing the uterus for pregnancy


The study included over four thousand women, making it the largest of its kind ever conducted. Half of the women received progesterone supplements while the other half unknowingly received a placebo. 

The women were instructed to vaginally insert the capsules twice a day until they reached 16 weeks of pregnancy. 


According to Science Daily, “The researchers found that there was a 4% increase in the number of babies born to the women in the study who were given progesterone and had previously had one or two miscarriages compared to those given a placebo.” 

However, the success rate was much higher (15 percent) for a sub-group of women who had a history of three or more miscarriages

Quote from participant in the trial
Above is an account of a woman, “Faye,” who took part in the trial. Following the study, she gave birth to a daughter. Image courtesy of the Miscarriage Association

These results suggest that progesterone treatment might only be significantly effective for women who have suffered recurrent miscarriages in the past. 

Further Investigation Underway

Though unable to verify if progesterone therapy can prevent miscarriage in all pregnant women, this study yields encouraging evidence that the hormone could help women who have had miscarriages. 

The researchers hope that they will be able to continue investigating the effectiveness of this treatment and help women everywhere have safer, healthier pregnancies. 


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