As strange as it may seem, it is true that a woman can be allergic to the progesterone produced by her own body. Some women develop autoimmune progesterone dermatitis (APD) three to 10 days before their menstrual period each month. The symptoms usually disappear one to two days after menstruation begins. These side effects of progesterone usually show up as skin rashes, including hives or eczema, and can be so serious that they cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that requires immediate medical treatment.
Causes of APD
Pregnancy is often attributed to APD, since being pregnant can cause changes to a woman’s immune system. Allergies often develop or change during pregnancy as well. For this reason, women taking birth control pills or hormone supplements with progesterone can develop sensitization to the hormone. More allergic reactions to progesterone happen in women than reactions to other female hormones, such as estrogen.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you are allergic to progesterone, you will have IgE antibodies in your system that can be found using an allergy skin test. Like other skin tests, a small amount of the allergen is placed under the skin. If an allergy to this substance exists, a hive will develop in this area.
Treating a progesterone allergy involves taking an antihistamine like non-drowsy Benadryl. In some cases, a woman is given injections of corticosteroids, or she may take this medication orally. These treatments do not change the cause of the progesterone allergy or cure it, but they do treat the allergic symptoms for many women. In severe cases, women must have a hysterectomy in which the uterus and ovaries are removed to stop the production of progesterin in the body.
Some women develop a progesterone allergy when they take hormone supplements for infertility, hot flashes or to stimulate regular menstrual periods. Some of the side effects of taking this drug are headaches, dizziness, breast tenderness, acne, muscle pain, vaginal itching, irritability, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and nausea. These side effects are mild, but severe side effects can also develop.
Serious side effects of using progesterone can be very severe, including chest pain, dark urine, breast lumps, depression, numbness on one side of the body, and vision and balance problems. This type of progesterone often contains peanut oil, so individuals with a peanut allergy may have an allergic reaction if the peanut protein is still present. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have a peanut allergy if your physician is thinking of prescribing progesterone for you.