Progesterone for treatment of symptomatic menopausal women

Climacteric. 2018 Aug;21(4):358-365. doi: 10.1080/13697137.2018.1472567. Epub 2018 Jul 2.


This review's purpose is to highlight evidence that oral micronized progesterone (progesterone) is effective for hot flushes and night sweats (vasomotor symptoms, VMS), improves sleep and is likely safe in menopausal women (who are more than 1 year since last menstruation). Methods include randomized controlled clinical trials (RCT) supplemented with basic science, population and observational data as needed. The barrier to use of progesterone is lack of awareness that safety concerns with estrogen-including 'menopausal hormone therapy' (MHT) are not applicable to progesterone. In a single 3-month RCT, progesterone (300 mg at bedtime) was effective treatment of VMS in 133 healthy menopausal women. It caused an overall 55% VMS decrease, no withdrawal-related VMS rebound and a greater VMS decrease in 46 women with ≥50 moderate-intense VMS/week. Progesterone is equally or more effective than estradiol in improving cardiovascular endothelial function and caused no cardiovascular safety concerns in a 3-month RCT. An 8-year prospective cohort study (E3N) in more than 80 000 menopausal women showed progesterone prevented breast cancer in estrogen-treated women. Multiple RCTs confirm that progesterone (300 mg daily at bedtime) does not cause depression and improves deep sleep. In conclusion, progesterone effectively treats VMS, improves sleep and may be the only therapy that symptomatic women, who are menopausal at a normal age and without osteoporosis, need.

Keywords: Vasomotor symptoms; hot flushes; menopause; micronized progesterone; night sweats; safety; sleep; transdermal progesterone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Estradiol / adverse effects*
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Hot Flashes / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Postmenopause
  • Progesterone / administration & dosage*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sweating / drug effects*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Women's Health


  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol