What is progesterone hypersensitivity?
Progesterone hypersensitivity is a challenging disease also known as autoimmune progesterone dermatitis. Heterogeneous skin eruptions characterise the condition which start out feeling like you’re getting a burn.
Your symptoms can be multiforme and range from slight to extreme. Extreme side effects to progesterone can cause
your skin to feel like it’s burning, coming up in lesions and blisters.
Less severe outcomes in women may be hives or a skin rash.
These rashes may happen cyclically during the second part (luteal phase) of your menstrual cycle, post ovulation, because they link it to the rise in your progesterone hormone levels, but this isn’t a fail-safe diagnostic tool.
What does progesterone do for fertility?
Progesterone does a bunch of stuff in our female body, but when we talk about pregnancy, it creates a thick and warm environment in our womb for our embryo to embed.
It is therefore a key fertility hormone.
How does progesterone hypersensitivity affect fertility and miscarriage?
During the stages of your early pregnancy it is imperative to maintain your levels of progesterone because it helps to prepare your uterus for the baby to implant by thickening the lining of your womb.
After about 9 weeks, the placenta takes over this role. But, it’s easy to see why ladies who suffer with the unfortunate but highly rare condition of progesterone hypersensitivity, are more likely to suffer an early miscarriage.
Without this thick bed lining our uterus, it’s difficult for the embryo to nestle in with enough stability to see it through the developments that take place during the first trimester of your pregnancy. It’s difficult for women to control their response to the hormone.
Therefore, if you don’t have enough progesterone, you have an increased chance of early miscarriage.
Progesterone hypersensitivity can happen during a normal pregnancy and also, as we see below, when you’re having fertility treatment.
I’m having IVF, can I avoid this situation?
If you’re a patient of any fertility treatment including IVF and ICSI, then you’ll take progesterone on the same day that your eggs are collected. This is to stimulate a nice, thick lining to your womb.
Some side effect of the progesterone pessary (suppository) or less common, an injection which fertility clinics prescribe their patients are:
*Dizziness and/ or tiredness/ nausea
*Bloating, often accompanied by cramps
As with all hyperstimulated hormonal balancing techniques, there are a ton of potential side effects besides the above. We’ve listed these below this article** for the sake of being diligent. But your fertility clinic should run through these with you. So, please don’t panic, these severe side effects are incredibly rare.
However, today, we’re picking out one of these rare forms of reactions, progesterone hypersensitivity, which results in the reddening of your skin.
Can I get tested to see if I’m likely to suffer with progesterone hypersensitivity?
First off, we’re talking about a rare disease here. But, if you like the idea of getting a standard dermatology allergy test to determine a pre-existing sensitivity, then they are available.
*If you suffer with some common side effects in the latter part of your cycle, then this could be a principled reason to get tested.
*Or, if you’ve been on progesterone only contraceptives such as an oral tablet or implant and had a poor reaction.
This report will determine whether you have a natural predisposition to reacting negatively to the hormone.
This works by putting a negligible amount of progesterone into your skin and testing your results. If you test positive then you can speak to your doctor or fertility specialist about their view on how sensitive you will be during a pregnancy. Particularly if you’re having months of fertility treatment.
How will I be treated for progesterone hypersensitivity?
Legally we need to spell out that we’re not doctors. We’re giving you a run down of the options we’ve heard of, but your medical specialist will treat you in accordance for what is right for your specific symptoms.
Very often your clinical practitioners will give you steroids to reduce the swelling either by cream or injections.
Is there another way to get the same fertility results without using progesterone?
It’s difficult because our body is so attuned to give us what we need, that each hormone has its own role to play.
When you suffer with a progesterone hypersensitivity reaction, depending on the severity of it, your doctor may stop adding this into your treatment plan. An old way that doctors used to help offset this hole in your plan is to add in HCG.
HCG is another hormone produced by your body. The role of this is to stimulate your corpus luteum.
The corpus luteum is the case of the egg, which once you ovulate dies off. This stimulates a surge in progesterone levels. So, by increasing your HCG, doctors are trying to stimulate your body to produce more progesterone. It hasn’t shown significant results from what we’ve read, but your doctors will know more because they will also have a specific view of your personal situation.
Is there anything else that may help?
Sometimes, after your miscarriage, your symptoms will continue for a period. These symptoms don’t last just a few days and then rectifies after you stop taking the drugs.
There is a possible option which you may want to look at in time. The symptoms don’t go immediately into remission. But, once they have, doctors can look at exposing you to insignificant amounts of progesterone over a prolonged period.
Desensitisation therapy works a little like any other allergy where the theory is that when you have exposure to a paltry amount of something, your body learns to build its tolerance. But this takes time.
We haven’t heard of any other medicine that works against this diagnosis.
We may have another solution.
Medical rectification to this disorder may be limited, but you need not be at a complete loss. We have seen repeatedly at Essential Feeling how powerful reflexology can balance hormones.
If we do this prior to you having treatment such as IVF or ICSI, the theory is that your body is more balanced. An autoimmune condition happens when your body misreads the signals and thinks its being attacked. It then does everything it can to rid your system of these invaders.
One way it does this is through your skin. So when you’re sick you’re always told to drink a lot of water, because this is the easiest way for your body to rid itself of toxins. And it avoids these painful inflammations, which is the panic mode used when all else fails. when you’re sick, you’re always told to drink a lot of water, because this is the easiest way for your body to rid itself of toxins. And it avoids these painful inflammations, which is the panic mode used when all else fails.
So, when we add, in this case, a heightened level of progesterone, quickly and unexpectedly, if your body starts out off balance, it tips over the eradication scale faster.
I’m not sure I’m explaining this well.
Think about it like this.
You are stressed at work; you have a bunch of emails, the phone rings whilst you’re trying to answer them and your boss calls you in to talk about the state of a massive project you’re working on.
Now, think about that same meeting with your boss where beforehand you know it’s coming, you have spent the night before preparing and you have made some great notes.
Which meeting will mean you get to present yourself and your knowledge in the best light?
This is how the body works.
So, if we let your immune system feel relaxed and at ease, then it’s less likely to spiral out of control, looking to fight fires where they don’t exist.
We can use this to help speed up your recovery after you’ve experienced a symptom such as an eczematous eruption.
Post outbreak/ allergic reaction
The above example relies on you knowing because you’ve already been diagnosed that you have a tendency to react to progesterone. But what happens if you only find out when you’ve already had that reaction. Or an early miscarriage?
This is when we use reflexology to calm the inflammation that results from progesterone hypersensitivity. We aim to balance your progesterone back with your oestrogen through using reflex points on your feet to release that internal stress we described above. This means your body isn’t fighting itself so much with the outcome being that your symptoms decrease.
We have also shown reflexology treatments at Essential Feeling an elsewhere reduce inflammation. If we can do this for you, then we can not only speed up the time it takes for your body to rebalance, but we can also ease the path to your recovery by reducing pain and swelling.
Check out our YouTube video on hay fever. You can see how swelling because of an allergic reaction to pollen goes down in minutes. Without the use of any drugs such as anti histamine,
To book in for reflexology to help balance your hormones and ease inflammation, you can use our online booking system.
** More rare forms of reaction to progesterone stimulation
- Signs of an allergic reaction including anaphylaxis, anaphylactic shock
- Pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in one or both legs or anywhere on your skin
- Chest pain or pressure, a sudden cough or wheezing. Rapid breathing.
- Vision problems that appear often with a nasty headache
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Pain or burning when you pee
- Depression symptoms
- A lump in your breast
- Yellow skin or eyes (jaundice)
- Fast onset of numbness or weakness
- Other issues with speech, balance, numbness