Oral micronized progesterone

Clin Ther. 1999 Jan;21(1):41-60; discussion 1-2. doi: 10.1016/S0149-2918(00)88267-3.


This review sought to examine the rationale for selecting an oral micronized progesterone formulation rather than a synthetic progestin for some of the main indications for progestogens. Unopposed estrogen use is associated with a high risk (relative risk, 2.1 to 5.7) of endometrial hyperplasia and adenocarcinoma, and it has been understood for some time that a progestogen must be added for at least 10 to 14 days per month to prevent these effects. However, the most commonly used synthetic progestins, norethisterone and medroxyprogesterone acetate, have been associated with metabolic and vascular side effects (eg, suppression of the vasodilating effect of estrogens) in both experimental and human controlled studies. All comparative studies to date conclude that the side effects of synthetic progestins can be minimized or eliminated through the use of natural progesterone, which is identical to the steroid produced by the corpus luteum. The inconvenience associated with the use of injectable, rectal, or vaginal formulations of natural progesterone can be circumvented by using orally administered micronized progesterone. The bioavailability of micronized progesterone is similar to that of other natural steroids, and interindividual and intraindividual variability of area under the curve is similar to that seen with synthetic progestins. A clear dose-ranging effect has been demonstrated, and long-term protection of the endometrium has been established. Micronized progesterone has been used widely in Europe since 1980 at dosages ranging from 300 mg/d (taken at bedtime) 10 days a month for women wishing regular monthly bleeding to 200 mg 14 days a month or 100 mg 25 days a month for women willing to remain amenorrheic. This therapy is well tolerated, with the only specific side effect being mild and transient drowsiness, an effect minimized by taking the drug at bedtime. The prospective, comparative Postmenopausal Estrogens/Progestin Intervention trial has recommended oral micronized progesterone as the first choice for opposing estrogen therapy in nonhysterectomized postmenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Postmenopause
  • Premenopause
  • Progesterone Congeners* / pharmacokinetics
  • Progesterone Congeners* / pharmacology
  • Progesterone Congeners* / therapeutic use
  • Progesterone* / pharmacokinetics
  • Progesterone* / pharmacology
  • Progesterone* / therapeutic use


  • Progesterone Congeners
  • Progesterone