Women who've had a miscarriage will be offered progesterone

·2-min read
Photo credit: Marcela Vieira - Getty Images
Photo credit: Marcela Vieira - Getty Images

Women at greater risk of pregnancy loss are going to be offered a new treatment that is expected to prevent thousands of miscarriages. Going forward, the pregnancy hormone progesterone could help as many as 1,200 pregnant women each year in England and Wales with a prior history of miscarriage and bleeding in early pregnancy [NICE estimates].

It’s part of a change to NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines, prompted by a review of research that suggests progesterone plays a role in maintaining pregnancy.

Progesterone is a natural hormone known to help grow the lining of the womb and a consistent supply also helps nurture the developing foetus, which is why researchers like Professor Arri Coomarasamy say it "makes a robust and effective treatment option". He's director of Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at the University of Birmingham and says the change will help make progesterone more "accessible" in the UK because we know "it’s not yet reaching everyone who might benefit.”

Previously, progesterone to support pregnancy wasn’t offered as standard by the NHS. The medicine would be taken as pessaries (i.e: into the vagina) twice daily up to 16 weeks of pregnancy. This update is good news for those who might have been denied progesterone treatment in the past, says Jane Brewin, chief executive for baby loss charity, Tommys.

“Miscarriage is often dismissed as ‘one of those things’ we can’t do anything about – even by some healthcare professionals, who may not specialise in this area [and will not] know the latest evidence,” she told Cosmopolitan UK in a statement.

“We hear from women who were denied progesterone treatment when they should have been eligible, simply because their doctor wasn’t familiar with it, so we hope NICE’s recommendation will help end some of these inequalities in miscarriage care that add more pain to an already unbearable experience.”

The charity estimates that one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, with women under 30 having a one in 10 chance of a miscarriage, although there are no official figures from the NHS. Now that the research is being taken seriously, it could “spare parents' heartache,” she adds.

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