Two recent studies of progesterone supplementation show that it can promote multiple health benefits, including balancing blood sugar levels, normal sleep, stimulating bone growth, and reducing anxiety.
For men and women alike, progesterone has the ability to balance and offset the powerful influence of estrogen, an excess of which can cause problems such as weight gain, insomnia, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and decreased mental clarity. For some women, too much estrogen can lead to migraines and also more serious conditions like uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and osteoporosis. As men age, they often experience problems like weight gain around the midsection, hair loss, lowered libido, and prostate enlargement. More and more physicians are now becoming aware of the link between these symptoms and an imbalance in the levels of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone.
In menstruating women, progesterone and estrogen are produced by the ovaries each month. During the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle, the ovaries secrete increasing amounts of estrogen. After those two weeks, ovulation begins and an egg is released and progesterone production begins. Progesterone prepares the womb for gestation, but if the egg is not fertilized, no pregnancy will occur and as a result, the production of both progesterone and estrogen will rapidly decline and bleeding will begin.
However, if pregnancy does occur, the placenta will begin to secrete such high levels of progesterone that ovulation will cease for the duration of the pregnancy and the uterine lining will become rich and strong for the developing fetus.
PROGESTERONE FOR MENOPAUSE & PERIMENOPAUSE
After menopause, a woman’s estrogen levels can drop by about 40-60% and progesterone levels decline even more dramatically. Although the adrenal glands still secrete some progesterone, this decline upsets the body’s natural hormone balance, especially in a world filled with xenoestrogens. Following menopause, a woman’s progesterone levels can plummet to almost zero and lead to many negative symptoms. In fact, numerous health problems are directly caused by an imbalance of progesterone and estrogen that leads to something known as “estrogen dominance.” This term was coined by Dr. John R. Lee, an M.D. who specialized in the study of progesterone. He used the term to describe the condition when the body does not produce enough progesterone to offset high levels of estrogen. This can be caused either by normal levels of estrogen combined with low levels of progesterone or low levels of estrogen combined with non-existent levels of progesterone.
If you have any of the symptoms listed below, you may be experiencing progesterone deficiency:
Progesterone has many wonderful functions in the body:
Maintaining a healthy uterine lining and preventing excess tissue buildup
Inhibiting breast tissue overgrowth & stimulation
Promoting weight loss – is thermogenic…tells the body to burn fat for energy
Balancing blood sugar levels
Acting as a natural diuretic
Normalizing blood clotting
Stimulating the production of new bone
Enhancing the action of thyroid hormones
Promoting normal sleep patterns
NATURAL VS. SYNTHETIC PROGESTERONE: A CRITICAL DIFFERENCE
What is the difference between natural and synthetic progesterone (like progestin). Natural progesterone is synthesized in the laboratory from the Mexican wild yam. This plant version has been in existence since the 1940’s, so it has been around for a LONG time. This type of progesterone is bio-identical, meaning its molecular structure is identical to the hormones that our bodies produce naturally; it’s a carbon copy so to speak. The most effective form of bioidentical progesterone, called micronized progesterone USP, works by enabling the progesterone to be absorbed at a steady, even rate.
Synthetic progestins, on the other hand, are NOT bio-identical. In fact, they were originally developed and manufactured as birth control agents. These synthetic progestins are very powerful and are able to function as contraceptive because a very small dose can prevent ovulation. In other words, they shut down normal ovarian function. One of the most common progestins, called Provera, is known to lead to blood clots, fluid retention, acne, rashes, weight gain, and depression.
By the way, there does exist an oral progesterone pill that has 200 mg of natural progesterone. However, when taken orally, progesterone is metabolized by the liver and can lead to complications in patients with a history of liver conditions. The pill also makes some women feel bloated, sleepy and/or constipated. Therefore, a cream seems to be the most effective and efficient way to get progesterone into the body because it is extremely fat-soluble and can be easily absorbed through the skin. One important advantage of using progesterone in a cream form is that the dosage can easily be altered to fit the needs of individual patients simply by varying the amount of cream used.
(You can read more about dosing in Progesterone Made Easy Part 2) I LOVE natural progesterone crème and have been using it in transdermal crème form for the past 25 years!
It’s great for men, too!