Seeing your doctor during pregnancy can feel like a tedious task, but it’s a necessary one. Your doctor is able to monitor your baby and evaluate any risks or complications so that you can have a successful pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. When complicated situations arise in pregnancy, doctors often prescribe treatments and methods that can curb any further issues. If your doctor has prescribed progesterone therapy, you're probably curious as to why — your friends in baby class didn't mention any kind of suppository — so what does it mean if you need progesterone suppositories?
Romper spoke with Dr. Eva Martin, founder of Elm Tree Medical, who says that progesterone supplementation, which comes in the form of vaginal suppositories or shots, are for the prevention of preterm delivery in women at high risk of delivering before 37 weeks.
"The two main reasons women are considered high risk are because they have had a preterm birth in a past pregnancy, or because they have a short cervix during pregnancy," Martin says. She adds that you may have the length of your cervix measured during an ultrasound, depending on whether or not your doctor finds it necessary. "There is currently a lot of controversy in the OB-GYN community about whether all women, regardless of their individualized risk, should be screened for a short cervix with a transvaginal ultrasound, or only women who are at high risk of having a short cervix."
If your doctor thinks you're at a high risk for miscarriage, they may recommend progesterone suppositories because recent studies have shown that progesterone treatments may decrease the chances of miscarriage. According to TIME, a study conducted by the University of Illinois and Yale School of Medicine found that for women who have a history of miscarriages, progesterone supplementation increased their chances of going on to have a successful pregnancy.
The study suggested that because the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) produces endometrial secretions that feed the baby up to week eight of a pregnancy, women whose endometrium were not healthy were experiencing miscarriages because their babies were starving to death. The study further suggested that because progesterone makes the endometrium produce more secretions, progesterone supplementation can help get the baby more nutrition and prevent miscarriage.
As science advances, and more is learned about the processes of pregnancy, it’s important to keep an ongoing conversation with your healthcare provider. If you have questions about why or what your doctor prescribes, make sure to voice your concerns at every visit.