The Effects of Progesterone on the Fetus

Progesterone is a hormone secreted by a woman's ovaries that helps to regulate ovulation and menstrual bleeding. This important hormone has also been used as a supplement to treat many symptoms of menopause. Women who are pregnant may benefit from natural progesterone, and progesterone supplements may be given to protect the fetus in high-risk pregnancies.

Progesterone benefits a developing fetus. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Preventing Miscarriage

Progesterone protects a fetus by preventing miscarriage. After conception has occurred, a woman's body secretes greater amounts of progesterone, which causes thickening of the uterine lining. This gives a favorable environment for the fertilized egg to implant and grow, according to Women Helping Women. Progesterone release also helps to avoid elimination of the developing embryo by stopping additional ovulation during pregnancy, reports the Association of Women for the Advancement of Research and Education.

Promotes Nutrition and Health

A pregnant woman needs to maintain healthy eating habits to build up nutrients in her body for her baby. Progesterone helps to increase a woman's appetite during pregnancy, encouraging her to eat more, which will provide more nutrients to the fetus. Additionally, progesterone promotes the storage of fat during pregnancy, which is important for fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E and K for better health.

Prematurity

Progesterone administration may reduce the incidence of premature birth in some situations. Infants born before 37 weeks gestation are considered to be premature and are at risk for many different health problems, including brain hemorrhage, jaundice, feeding difficulties and breathing problems. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development states that administration of progesterone to women beginning during the 16th and 20th weeks of pregnancy may help reduce preterm labor. Progesterone administration is beneficial for women who have previously had a premature baby, as they are at increased risk for developing preterm labor with subsequent pregnancies.

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