Progesterone and Gastroparesis

Hello All,

I have a question for ladies with gastroparesis. I am 24 years old, and have had GERD and gastroparesis symptoms for going on 5 years now. Recently I have been reading things about progesterone (which is in birth control pills) slowing gastric motility. One woman with gastroparesis commented on how strong odors made her nauseated as in pregnancy. (I, too, have this problem). My concern is this...I started taking birth control pills right around the time of my onset of symptoms (which have gotten progressively worse since). I am wondering if the progesterone in my birth control pills is causing my gastroparesis. I have long noticed that my gastric motility is improved the week of my period (the week I am not taking the hormone pills). I always attributed it to the fact that my uterine cramping was probably aiding in gastric motility...but now I am questioning the progesterone.

Do any other women have this same experience? Or has anyone else heard that birth control pills can cause gastroparesis?

I am going off my birth control pills now (6 months before my wedding--yikes!) in a desperate attempt to see if there is any validity to my theory.


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Hi Taylor,
I think that you are wise to be questioning progesterone. It is well know that even natural progesterone causes motility slow down in 'Normal' individuals. I feel that it is unlikely to have caused your GP, but you never know. One theory is that we have a genetic fault that makes us intolerant to our own reproductive hormones which leads to immunological damage to gut nerves. Do read the threads on how the menstrual cycle affects members of our community. The fluctuations certainly don't do us ladies any favours! There also seem to be many more ladies than gents with this problem.
Much more research needs to be done in this area.
It is interesting that you suffer increased sense of smell. Do you suffer from migraine?
One thing is for sure, we all tend to have a useless gut and unless a particular drug is clinically necessary I would tend to avoid any thing that might complicate the picture. Obviously you will need to tackle that little problem of birth control in an alternative way. Good luck with that!



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Hi Taylor!

I joined this forum because of your post! And it's recent, too!

I have "mild" gastroparesis (GP), and am now pregnant (7 mos).

I got GERD/GP (at least, the symptoms of it all) about exactly a year after I started "normal" BC pills.

My gastroenterologist last year this time mentioned in passing "I'm beginning to suspect your BC" when I was leaving an appointment. Stupid me never pressed him about it again (nor did he mention) in the 4 times since that I went. Next time I WILL mention it - January!

About that time, I was researching GP and saw stuff relating to progesterone (prog) and GP - and also lower esophageal sphincter (LES) weakening, AND pregnancy. Latter that pregnancy raises prog above any normal level and that it may have the main responsibility for "morning sickness" and heartburn - a sort of form of GP and LES weakening. I have been miserable basically my whole pregnancy - from about 5 weeks on (no, no vomiting ever, just feel garbage and don't like to eat). I have had this constant internal "burping" (I am SURE this is obvious refluxing) since about July 15 daily and extremely frequently. In addition to gag reflex (not really reflex, but constant presence) and more heartburn than I ever had before and horrible bloating since about 6 mos.

Now, I had gotten a "lower dose" BC last year to experiment with this idea of prog causing problems. (While some things went away/decreased, I was stuck with burning gut all over - sometimes HORRIBLE.) But I was on it only 3 mos before giving up BC altogether to get pregnant. That was only a month! So I've had no respite to see if things would've cleared up. I'm pregnant now and that skews all anyway!

The fact it also seems more women than men are affected by both GP AND GERD likewise makes me think maybe prog is causing problems.

The dispiriting thing is that there aren't huge #s of definitive studies, and some seem to contradict this theory - i.e., "there is no evidence it causes trouble". Some even seem to claim people get BETTER having more prog - HRT, on BC, at ovulation, etc.

I don't know what to think! But I hope people will start pushing this on doctors - could it be too-high prog? Maybe they'll start thinking about it more, because they sure don't automatically postulate and suggest it!

As for me, I figure I'll see how I do after pregnancy, and maybe 3 mos. out. (I'm scared of the BC now so I'm NOT going back on it!) I'm hoping I will be my old self, and if so, I will be telling people to definitely check on the prog levels!

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Hi Taylor,

I am new to this site and just read your message. I was diagnosed with "mild GP" in mid Dec. It came on really fast and I have been reading everything I can to find out why I have it. I am not diabetic, have had no surgeries and have no other health issues (that i know of). etc.

I found your comment so interesting and it made me really curious. I was on the same birth control brand for about 5 years and switched this past September (or Oct) and I started having issues with stomach mobility in late Nov. I am also now in the week with no pills (just about to get my period) and I am feeling pretty good today.

Very interesting! Maybe I am just overly optimistic and hoping for an answer but it is something I am going to ask my GI Dr about.

Please keep me posted on whether or not you see any improvement as the months go on. I am newly married and just after reading your message told my husband that I am going off birth control and he is not as excited as I am about trying it out to see if it helps.

happy wedding planning :)


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Thanks for posting this. My GP also gets better when progesterone levels fall (during my period) and it usually is worse during the rest of my cycle. Ironically my symptoms were quite a bit better when I was pregnant. I don't think that hormones can necessarily cause GP but they certainly make it worse or better. In addition, my gastroparesis has gotten progressively worse since I had my baby and stopped breastfeeding. Hormones do play a role. I imagine that if you are predisposed to GP that the progesterone may trigger the onset of the disease. I wonder if anyone has ever tried using anti-progestins as treatment. This is certainly worth more research.

Take care,

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What birth control did u switch to when the GP sympotms started to show? Mine was Yaz and all my friends who have tried Yaz has gotten some extent of acid reflux....mine turned into GP, but I still have a funny feeling the Yaz had somethign to do with it.

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