Progesterone is a hormone which is made and released by the ovaries. Progesterone is primarily made to support the implantation of a fertilized egg within the uterus and then for maintaining a pregnancy once it occurs. Varying progesterone levels can contribute to abnormal menstrual periods, irregular intramenstrual bleeding, PMS and menopausal symptoms.
Progesterone is a natural hormone made by the human body and must be differentiated from progestins which are synthetic chemicals made in a lab. While both can act similarly in many situations, they are in fact very different compounds with very different effects in the body. While progesterone is an integral part of a woman’s hormone balance and is the precursor hormone for cortisol, aldosterone, estrogen, and testosterone, progestins do not have this same capacity and in fact often cause more problems then they deal with or solve. There is now mounting evidence that while progesterone and progestings can reduce a woman’s risk of uterine cancer, progesterone lowers the risk of breast cancer while progestins increase the same woman’s risk for breast cancer.
There are two major reasons for progesterone deficiency: 1 ) lack of ovulations and 2) normal or impaired ovulation with inadequate progesterone manufacture and release. Generally, progesterone production and release are significantly reduced or non existent after menopause. Total progesterone production can also be reduced or impaired by reduced luteinizing hormone levels, increased prolactin production, stress, taking certain antidepressants, excessive arginine consumption, excessive sugar and/or saturated fats in the woman’s diet, deficiency of certain vitamins and/or minerals for example A, B6, C and /or zinc, decreased thyroid hormone production (hypothyroidism).
Symptoms of Progesterone Deficiency
While progesterone is often dismissed as a somewhat meaningless hormone, one which is primarily only involved with ovulation and pregnancy, it is actually much more than that. This becomes immediately obvious when we look at the list of negative effects which are often triggered by a progesterone deficiency:
Positive Effects of Using Bio-Identical Progesterone
• Helps balance both positive and negative effects of estrogen
• Improves sleep
• Natural calming effect, has both positive antianxiety and antidepressant effects
• Lowers high blood pressure
• Helps the body use and eliminate fats
• Lowers cholesterol
• Increases scalp hair
• Helps balance fluids in cells
• Increases the beneficial effects of estrogen on blood vessels
• Natural diuretic
• Increases metabolism
• Natural anti-inflammatory effects
• Stimulates the production of new bone, reduces osteoporosis
• Enhances the action of thyroid hormones
• Improves libido
• Helps restore proper cell oxygen levels
• Induces conversion of Estradiol-1 to the inactive Estradiol-1S form
• Is neuroprotective, promotes myelination of nerves
• Natural progesterone does not induce estrogen-stimulated breast cell proliferation hence protects against and decreases the woman’s risk of breast cancer
• Decreases the virulence and negative outcome of breast cancer when it does occur
As you can see progesterone has many positive effects which are often lost during menopause. Using bio- identical progesterone is essential after menopause.
Use of Progesterone Without Adequate Estrogen
Unfortunately, even bio-identical progesterone has an negative side when the dosage is to high, even when used with adequate estrogen as it can:
Stress and Progesterone
Stress causes the release of adrenaline. When adrenaline surges occur with stress, progesterone receptors can be blocked. This then may prevent progesterone from being used effectively by the body. Unless stress can be controlled positive progesterone effects can be further decreased.
Treatment Using Progesterone
Compounded bio-identical progesterone is generally prescribed in either an oral form (in a capsule) or as a cream used topically. Both are effective. If an individual has insomnia then oral progesterone is best as it affects GABA receptors.
Progesterone, Perimenopausal and Menopausal Women, and Breast Cancer Prevention
HRT experts suggest that perimenopausal and menopausal women best use oral progesterone, as oral progesterone better reduces both the risk of breast cancer and has a better effect in preventing breast cancer when compared to women who use topical progesterone.
Progesterone, Menstruating Women, and Breast Cancer Prevention
Normal healthy women with high progesterone levels and regular menstrual cycle have an 88% reduction in their likelihood of ever having breast cancer. On the other hand, women who were deficient in progesterone has a 5.4 times increased risk of subsequent breast cancer and were 10 times more likely to die from any cancer. Non menopausal women with low progesterone can benefit from bio-identical progesterone replacement long before the onset of her perimenopausal era.
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