A Common Hormone Treatment Won't Help Pregnant People As Much As Doctors Believed

During pregnancy, there are a lot of complications that can occur. When you first learn you are pregnant, your doctor will help you calculate a due date based on your last menstrual period, per BabyCenter. This due date can easily change though. In your first trimester, your doctor may extend your due date or shorten it based on the way your baby is measuring on an ultrasound. But even with a more accurate date, you are still unlikely to deliver your baby on that day. In fact, only 1 in 20 pregnant women give birth on their actual due date. And while giving birth shortly before or after your due date is common, going into labor long before your due date can be dangerous.

Preterm labor is diagnosed in pregnant women when they begin to have contractions before 37 weeks gestation, per Mayo Clinic. When this happens, doctors may prescribe medication to help slow down labor due to the fact that preterm labor can lead to low birth weight, vision problems, and developmental delays. Some women are given medications like steroids or magnesium sulfate. Women who are at a high-risk for preterm labor have been known to receive vaginal progesterone as a treatment to delay labor and are often prescribed it as early as 24 weeks. But new evidence shows that progesterone may not be as beneficial as doctors once thought.

New studies prove that progesterone may have no benefit to pregnant women

Progesterone is a common hormone treatment that is used for women who experience infertility, repeat miscarriages, or those at risk for preterm labor, according to Cleveland Clinic. The medication is taken vaginally and has been known to have a lot of benefits for pregnant women. According to My Fertility Center, during pregnancy, women produce their own progesterone, but those who have trouble conceiving and carrying a baby to term can benefit from taking vaginal progesterone during their pregnancy. It helps prepare the uterus for implantation before pregnancy and during pregnancy, it helps the fetus grow. And while these factors remain true, a third use of the treatment — to prevent preterm labor — is no longer believed to work.

According to U.S. News & World Report, a new study has now revealed that progesterone does not have any effect on delaying or preventing preterm birth. The Jama Network conducted a study of 1,600 pregnant women who had a history of delivering early and found that the use of progesterone made no difference in whether or not they were diagnosed with preterm labor. Currently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine still recommend the use of progesterone to delay labor, but researchers hope these findings will be a step in the right direction when it comes to prescribing hormone treatment to pregnant patients.