Itchy, bumpy or asthmatic a week before your period? You could be allergic to your hormones

/Itchy, bumpy or asthmatic a week before your period? You could be allergic to your hormones

Itchy, bumpy or asthmatic a week before your period? You could be allergic to your hormones

My Hormonology

Do you get itchy skin, hives, a rash or other skin-related problems about a week before your period? Find that your asthma flares on these cycle days?

You may be “allergic” to the progesterone your body secretes.

What is a progesterone allergy?

According to a new report published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, a small percentage of women have a condition called progestogen hypersensitivity (PH) that causes their immune system to overreact to their body’s natural progesterone.

This sensitivity can also occur when taking synthetic progesterone, for instance, when using hormone birth control or receiving fertility treatment.

For the majority of women who experience PH during their monthly cycle, symptoms tend to increase when progesterone spikes at the end of their Week 3 (about a week prior to menstruation) and lessens during the first few days of their period, which is when your level of progesterone bottom out. However, research shows that symptoms may also appear at other times in your cycle.

Symptoms can vary from woman to woman and include a wide variety of skin disorders, including eczema, rash, blisters, hives, vulval itching and canker sores, as well as asthma.

The symptoms of PH can begin occurring as early as your teens or as late as menopause, but research suggests they may start most often during a woman’s late 20s through her 30s.

Possible causes of a progesterone allergy

Researchers are still trying to determine why some women develop PH. One potential culprit is synethic progesterone in hormone birth control (including the Pill, patch, ring and progesterone-secreting IUD) and fertility treatments. It’s possible that, in a minority of women, synthetic progesterone triggers the production of antibodies that specifically target both natural and synethetic progesterone. So, when the level of naturally-occurring progesterone rises in your monthly cycle, these antibodies try to fend off this hormone by spurring the release of chemicals that cause an allergic reaction, typically in the skin, lungs, throat or nose.

High levels of progesterone that naturally occur with pregnancy are considered another possible cause of PH.

And some researchers suspect that topical or oral corticosteroids (commonly used for asthma, allergies and other health condition) that have a similar structure to progesterone could also trigger the same progesterone-targeting antibodies.

However, it’s possible that other underlying conditions or multiple issues can cause it. Researchers simply aren’t certain at this point.

How to confirm you’re allergic to progesterone

If you feel that your skin problems or asthma flare-ups could be a sign you’re overly sensitive to progesterone, keep a journal detailing your symptoms and when they occur in your cycle, then bring it to your healthcare provider. She or he can help rule out other possible causes and confirm your own suspicions by giving you a progesterone skin test, which measures your body’s reaction to this hormone.

If your healthcare provider is unfamiliar with PH, consider printing out this report and bringing it to your visit (either you or your doctor will need to purchase the full text for $35.95) or seek out an allergy doctor who is already experienced in treating this condition.

How do you treat a progesterone allergy?

Once you get tested, your healthcare provider will work with you to assess the severity of your symptoms and goals (such as whether you want to get pregnant) to determine the best course of action, which can include various treatments, such as antihistamines, steroids or ovulation suppression with hormone birth control (using a process to desensitize you to the synthetic progesterone it contains), gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists (which block the rise of certain hormones that trigger ovulation) or ovary removal in the most severe cases.

Where to go from here

If you think a progesterone sensitivity could be behind your skin or asthma problems, start tracking your symptoms and cycle right away. Then, if you see a pattern or suspect a link, make a call to consult with a healthcare professional about it.


By | 2017-05-11T13:15:32+00:00 May 11th, 2017|health, progesterone, Week 3, Week 4|12 Comments

About the Author:

Gabrielle Lichterman is the founder of Hormonology, author of 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals about Your Love Life, Moods and Potential and creator of the popular Hormone Horoscope apps and Female Forecaster app. She teaches how hormones impact a woman's moods, health and behavior in talks and workshops.


  1. Gabrielle Lichterman October 21, 2018 at 9:43 am

    This is something you’ll want to discuss with your healthcare provider. She or he may want to be aware that you are getting these rashes — and if they occur regularly during your premenstrual phase, let her or him know.

  2. Gabrielle Lichterman October 21, 2018 at 9:37 am

    If you’re concerned about your cycle-related hives, it’s always wise to ask your healthcare provider about them. Your gynecologist may also want to have on record that you have a hormone-related sensitivity in case there are other issues that crop up with your health and hormones in the future. So, I recommend talking with her or him.

  3. jane October 21, 2018 at 9:35 am

    hi i am wondering if it is necessary to take action if your hives are caused by menstrual cycle as i am only 18 years old? Is it possible for me to leave it alone instead of treating it if my hives are not that bad even though i do get it every month around the time i get my period

  4. love soria September 16, 2018 at 6:03 am

    Hi i had this experiencing rashes on my body, it was i think 7days before my period. as i remember i ate durian fruit almost everyday for straight 5days,since that time rashes appear, first to my waist,then in my lower butt,then sides of body, between my breast, then in my arms too.i was taken CELESTAMINE tablet for 3 days, i think 2 x a doesnt work.the last tablet i take 9am,i almost sleep for about6hrs,i heard noises but my body is like collapsed.then now my 1st day of my period,rashes almost gone now. i thought it was caused by eating durian everyday.

  5. Gabrielle Lichterman June 8, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    I recommend printing out the study linked in this article and taking it with you. Or taking it to another dermatologist or gynecologist.

  6. Kim June 4, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    This is great information. I recently started to experience these same symptoms even through I am almost 46 years old. I have been going to a dermatologist and had various patch tests done to try to determine the case of the rash. I even mentioned to my doctor that the rashes seem to coincide with my period. But she did not seem to think that was a possible cause.

  7. Gabrielle Lichterman December 18, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Have you always had this hive effect or is just as you’ve transitioned into perimenopause? Also, I hope that your doctor is overseeing your use of progesterone cream since hormones — even in over-the-counter preparations — can have unintended side effects and mask the symptoms of underlying issues that need to be addressed.

  8. Melicia Smith December 15, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    I have the opposite. I get really severe hives while ovulating and also when I start my period. I can’t sleep or do anything they are so bad. I can’t even wear socks because they give me hives. Hands Feet and wrist are always covered . as soon as my period is ended they go away. and after ovulation has ended they go away. I take progesterone, bio identical cream and when I take it they aren’t as bad. If I forget to take my cream they are ten times as bad. also I am 45 years old and in perimenopause .

  9. Gabrielle Lichterman December 4, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    I’m so glad you found this post helpful — and that (fingers crossed!) you’ve pinpointed the cause of your problems so you can work on a long-term solution. You or your GP can download the full report using the link in the post ( to get more information about PH. Hopefully, this inspires her to look into this more deeply for you. I wish you the best of luck!

  10. Demelza December 4, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    I am so unbelievably happy to find this. I have been experiencing welts and severe swelling that coincidentally followed a similar cycle to my period… Usually starts a week beforehand. This all started in my late teens when I decided to switch from the implanon to the pill and I suddenly started getting these horribly itchy swells on my arm, spine and fingers. My fingers would blow up double their size! After trying a different pill and nothing altogether I came to the conclusion that this had to have something to do with my hormones and the pill triggering some sort of imbalance. I spoke to my Dr and she brushed it off instantly and said I might have Lupis or a yeast allergy. Lupis came back negative and honestly I did not believe it could be yeast as I didn’t react whenever I ate bread or pizza. I still continued to get them the week before my period. But hey I guess my GP is on the right track about it being an allergy.

    I am now 24 and have been tracking my cycle for years. I went back to the implanon and that has seemed to lessen the swelling. But it still comes just before I would get my period. I am taking this info to my GP so I can start being tested and treated. Thank you so much for your valuable research! As I read through I kept thinking ‘this is it! This is what’s causing it!’. I have never come across something so accurate to what I’ve been experiencing. I honestly think I could have PH. Thank you again. You have given me hope again that this can be treated and controlled.

  11. Gabrielle Lichterman November 7, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    I’m glad this information may be able to help you, Althea. However, I have no more information than what’s in this article. You’d have to ask your doctors to give you more information about your symptoms’ onset and their connection to birth control pills, how long you’d need to be treated and its relationship to hair loss. I wish you the best of luck.

  12. althea October 29, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Thank you for this information, I’m almost certain that I have a progesterone allergy. I was diagnosed with POTS eventually and being treated for Mast Cell Activation Disorder. My symptoms started with tachycardia around a week before my cycle,during this time Id started taking birth control pills for a few months. I’m hoping that this information will help my drs treat me. I’m wondering if birth control pills triggered the allergy is it reversible,and if you take the medicine to lower progesterone would it be something that I would need to continue taking forever. One other question could this allergy cause hair loss? I also experienced hair loss at the time I started experiencing the tachycardia. Thank you again for the article.

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