Doctors have found an unexpected ally in efforts to save people who suffer serious head trauma — the hormone progesterone. This good news is reported in USA Today.
In a study released today, doctors in a small study at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta report giving progesterone, a steroid often associated with pregnancy and sex drives, to patients with serious head injuries.
What they found, according to the study online in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, is that progesterone is safe and that more patients who got progesterone survived moderate head injuries than did those who were given a placebo.
Traumatic brain injuries — from a gunshot wound to a blow to the head during a football game — can cause anything from a brief spell of dizziness to coma or death.
In the USA, falls, car crashes and firearms contribute to more than 1 million head injuries each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Progesterone has a wide range of uses, from helping women through the first trimester of pregnancy to cutting a pedophile’s sex drive. The most common use is as part of hormone-replacement therapy for women after menopause.
Because progesterone receptors are widely distributed in the central nervous system, and because progesterone appears to reduce brain swelling and prevent the loss of some nerve cells in animals studied after brain injury, researchers believe it will help humans with head trauma. Sexual effects wear off hours after the drug is administered.