REVIEW Progesterone shares the pharmacological actions of the progestins. Progesterone binds to the progesterone and estrogen receptors. Target cells include the female reproductive tract, the mammary gland, the hypothalamus, and the pituitary. Once bound to the receptor, progestins like Progesterone will slow the frequency of release of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamus and blunt the pre-ovulatory LH (luteinizing hormone) surge. In women who have adequate endogenous estrogen, progesterone transforms a proliferative endometrium into a secretory one. Progesterone is essential for the development of decidual tissue and is necessary to increase endometrial receptivity for implantation of an embryo. Once an embryo has been implanted, progesterone acts to maintain the pregnancy. Progesterone also stimulates the growth of mammary alveolar tissue and relaxes uterine smooth muscle. It has little estrogenic and androgenic activity.
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