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Use of progesterone to regulate menstrual cycle.
Question from oki-catholic on 9/5/2013:

Dear Judy,

I just posted this on ALL re-asking a question that seems like it was touched on in 2002 and asking for a repost. But on ALL, I was limited to 200 characters, so I thought I'd try to go into more detail here.

My wife of three years and I are both Catholic. Her cycle was always irregular, but after the birth of our daughter almost two years ago, she developed polycystic ovarian syndrome which brought it to the point where some months she won't have a cycle. She is also exhibiting other symptoms of the condition, like weight gain, that add to our stress. The doctors are telling her that, without hormone injections, she won't be able to ovulate and have a cycle. The other side of the injections is that it's an overload of hormones all at once. She thinks that an alternative to these injections is a progesterone pill that will regulate her hormones rather than giving them all at once.

My question is - would using a pill in this way be contrary to our Catholic faith?

Thanks for your help and God bless.

Answer by Judie Brown on 9/25/2013:

Dear OC

I shared your question with Anthony Dardano, MD and here is his response:

Not knowing all the details involved here I can only speak in generalities. This syndrome is rather complex endocrine wise. The ovarian capsule itself tends to produce more male hormone than usual which is the crux of the problem. Success has been achieved using adrenal gland diuretics or even anti diabetic drugs. For severe cases the old fashioned wedge resection has been and still is, very effective. With the minimally invasive surgical techniques available today this is still a most effective treatment.

I agree the bonus dosing of hormones could be counter productive and can have rather severe side effects such as elevated blood pressure, stroke or blood clots. Progesterone pills are used and don't pose an ethical dilemma. Progesterone, as the name implies, is pro pregnancy. After ovulation the ovary secretes large amounts of progesterone which in turn thickens the uterine lining in preparation for the implantation of a fertilized egg. Should fertilization not occur the falling level of progesterone causes the uterine lining to slough off which is what we call menstruation. Progesterone pills merely put this natural hormone back in the cycle where it belongs- frequently taken from day 16-25 of each cycle. Should fertilization occur, the pregnancy is off to its best start with the hormonal replacement that is necessary to continue the pregnancy. This therapy is therefore morally neutral and not contrary to our faith.

May God bless you. Anthony N Dardano, MD, FACS, FACOG


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