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What is Progesterone?

Progesterone is the hormone secreted by the female reproductive system - the ovaries, placenta, and adrenal glands. The term progestin is used to describe progesterone and synthetic steroid hormones with progesterone-like properties, such as the progestogen levonorgestrel. Progesterone functions mainly to regulate the condition of the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium) after a woman produces an egg during the middle of her menstrual cycle. Progesterone is the dominant female hormone for the last half of the menstrual cycle. Estrogen and progesterone work in synchronization with each other as checks and balances to achieve hormonal harmony in both sexes.

Since most progesterone in males is created during testicular production of testosterone, and most in females by the ovaries, the shutting down or removal of these organs, whether by natural or chemical means, inevitably causes a considerable reduction in progesterone levels.

At one time, progesterone was simply considered a "female hormone", and the scientific and medical communities' focus only on the role of progestagens (progesterone and molecules with similar effects) in female reproduction obscured the significance of progesterone's importance elsewhere in both sexes. Widespread research into the potential value of maintaining progesterone levels in both males and females is currently underway.

Female hormonal balance between the estrogen hormones and progesterone is essential in order for women to obtain and maintain health and wellness. The three human estrogen hormones have numerous effects on the body which are believed to require progesterone to balance excessive estrogen and prevent the hyper effects of estrogen dominance which can lead to a host of health problems. It is not the absolute deficiency of estrogen or progesterone rather it's believed to be the relative dominance of estrogen and relative deficiency of progesterone that is the main cause of health problems when they are off balance.

Estrogen dominance is the term used to describe what happens when the ratio of estrogen to progesterone is changed, either by excess estrogen, or insufficient progesterone. The symptoms of estrogen dominance differ from woman to woman, but can range from uncomfortable symptoms such as insomnia, dizziness, irritability, and difficulty concentrating, to extreme changes in mood, bloating, weight gain, muscle pain, joint pain, and urinary incontinence. Other possible symptoms of low progesterone may include frequent urinary tract infections, interstitial cystitis, changes in appetite, hot flashes, cold chills, night sweats, and vaginal dryness and any of these:

  • Allergies and Asthma
  • Missed or irregular periods
  • Swollen or Fibrocystic Breasts
  • Fatigue
  • PMS
  • Infertility
  • PCOS
  • Fibroids
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Thyroid dysfunction

Progesterone is believed to have the following counterbalancing effects on the estrogen hormones:

  • matures the uterine lining preventing excess buildup of tissue
  • inhibits breast tissue overgrowth, preventing fibrocystic breast disease
  • has a diuretic effect which mobilizes fluid, decreasing swelling
  • enhances the action of thyroid hormones, increasing metabolism
  • stimulates the production of new bone, protecting against osteoporosis
  • increases the sex drive • protects against breast cancer and uterine cancer
  • thins the blood, preventing blood clots
  • supports the function of the adrenal glands
  • elevates mood
  • promotes pregnancy

From age 35 to 50, there is a 75% reduction in production of progesterone in the body. Estrogen, during the same period, only declines about 35%. By menopause, the total amount of progesterone made is extremely low, while estrogen is still present in the body at about half its pre-menopausal level. With the gradual drop in estrogen but severe drop in progesterone, there is insufficient progesterone to counteract the amount of estrogen in our body. Many women in their mid-thirties, most women during peri-menopause (mid-forties), and essentially all women during menopause (age 50 and beyond) are overloaded with estrogen and at the same time suffering from progesterone deficiency because of the severe drop in physiological production of this hormone during this period. The end result is excessive estrogen relative to progesterone, a condition we call estrogen dominance.

According to Dr. John Lee, the world's authority on natural hormone therapy, the key to hormonal balance is the modulation of progesterone to estrogen ratio. For optimum health, the progesterone to estrogen ratio should be between 200 and 300 to 1.

Progesterone functions in many capacities. It is often taken to counter the effects of estrogen, normally used by women who are postmenopausal. It also goes by the prescription. Natural progesterone is available as well and is known to have far fewer side effects. Progesterone has many functions. First, it is both a precursor to other adrenal hormones and is a GH stimulant as well. It likewise promotes lipolysis (breakdown of fat) and protects against endometrial cancer. It is known to eliminate the risk of endometrial cancer when given with estrogen for 10 or more days per cycle. Lastly, progesterone normalizes levels of blood sugar, zinc, and copper. Progesterone stimulates the walls of the uterus to prepare it for implantation of the fertilized ovum. If pregnancy occurs, progesterone inhibits ovulation (by suppressing FSH & LH) and promotes uterine development until the placenta becomes more mature. (Progesterone is so-named because it promotes gestation, i.e., the growth of offspring in the womb).

USP Progesterone

The title "USP Progesterone" or (USP) differentiates natural progesterone from synthetic progesterone. This means the progesterone which is formulated is identical (bio-identical) to that what is secreted from the female ovaries. Although it is done in a laboratory, no chemicals are added to it, they are simply chemically modified in a special conversion process. USP stands for United States Pharmacopoeia and indicates that the Progesterone meets the standards set in the U.S. "Micronized" USP Progesterone, is the natural form of progesterone broken down into very tiny particles. The process of micronization allows for steady, even absorption of the USP Progesterone.

Symptoms of Low Progesterone

Symptoms related to low Progesterone hormone levels:

Tender Breasts Weepiness - Tearfulness Cyclical Headaches-Migraines
Mood Swings - PMS Anxiety & Moodiness Low Libido Irritability & Quick to Anger
Water Retention Fibrocystic or Lumpy Breasts Leg Cramps when Walking
Weight Gain - Hip Area Uterine Fibroids Short Term Memory Loss
Breast Enlargement Puffiness and Bloating Heavy Menses
Rapid Unexplained Weight Gain Thyroid problems Sleep Disturbances - Insomnia
Fungal or Candida Infections Vaginitis and Vaginal Infections Sugar Cravings - Hypoglycemia
Weight Gain-mid body-Waist Infertility Elevated Triglycerides
Not ovulating Anxiety Type Depression Early Pregnancy Miscarriage
Rapid Mood Swings Adrenal Problems-Fatigue Cystic Ovaries-Polycystic Ovary
Bleeding Changes Cold Body Temperature Irregular Periods
Painful Menstrual Cramps Gallbladder Problems Early life Hysterectomy
Early Miscarriages Anxious Irritability Red Palms - Red Fingertips
Feeling Crazy Anxious Red flush on face or sides of neck
Depression Cervix Problems Stress related symptoms

Men & Progesterone

Why some men use progesterone:

  • Men need it to make testosterone and for the adrenal glands to make cortisone
  • Men with BPH (swelling of the prostate) and other male related problems report that they experience some relief with progesterone cream
  • Progesterone has NO feminizing characteristics
  • Men report that it helps them with complexion and increases energy
  • It is believed to help balance the estrogens that build in a man's body
  • because progesterone levels drop, estradiol levels rise, and testosterone changes in form in older men
  • Adding progesterone back into the body helps restore normal inhibition of 5-alpha-reductase, thus preventing testosterone from changing into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which stimulates proliferation of prostate cells
  • If men have low progesterone levels their estradiol levels can increase. This increase can lead to cancer of the prostate, just as it leads to breast and uterine cancer in women

Low Progesterone Risk Factors

Estrogen

Sometimes the body will produce too much estrogen in certain cases such as in cases of obesity and with hormone medication. Fat cells hold and produce estrogen, so essentially the more body fat you have, the more estrogen is being produced in your body, this will, in turn, lower the levels of progesterone that is produced naturally.

Insulin

When a person's body has a tolerance to insulin production, this can cause the hormones to become imbalanced, lowering the progesterone production in the body. Resistance of insulin all-together is a leading factor as well.

Stress

A high stress lifestyle will also effect the body's ability to create and produce progesterone. Strenuous physical stress as well as mental trauma and anxiety severely alters the body's hormones and their productivity.

Diet

Malnutrition will not only affect your internal vital organs, but your hormone production as well. In order for your body to pump hormones like progesterone through the body, proper nutrition should be followed.

Inactivity

Refraining from regular exercise causes hormones to sometimes go dormant or decrease production. This causes trauma to the hormone producing glands in the body, therefore hindering the ability to release needed progesterone.

Medications

Depending on the medication you're on, it can affect the amount of progesterone your body produces and absorbs. Certain hormone treatments alter the body's ability to absorb naturally produced hormones, such as progesterone, and even estrogen or testosterone.

Mysteries

Sometimes, doctor's can't figure out the particular cause of low progesterone, in each woman, that is why it's best to exercise proper nutrition paired with an active and healthy lifestyle. Avoid drinking and eating from plastic containers, and especially avoid reheating food in plastic containers. Doctors have found a link in many progesterone related symptoms with the consumption of materials in plastic containers and receptacles.

Common Questions

Why do women need progesterone?

Progesterone is important in balancing and counteracting the effects of estrogen. But progesterone levels may drop to near zero in some women while their estrogen levels drop only 40-60% at menopause, which is just enough to stop the menstrual cycle. Using progesterone therapy can greatly enhance overall hormone balance because it is the precursor to so many other hormones. It can also stimulates bone-building helping to protect against osteoporosis.

Why do men need progesterone?

Men naturally need progesterone to make testosterone and for the adrenal glands to make cortisone. It balances the estrogens that build in a man's body, it helps men with complexion and it increases energy. Men with BPH (swelling of the prostate) and other male related problems will experience a relief with progesterone cream. Adding progesterone back into the body also can help restore normal inhibition of 5-alpha-reductase, thus preventing testosterone from changing into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which stimulates proliferation of prostate cells.

What is progesterone made from?

The USP progesterone used for hormone replacement comes from plant fats and oils. Wild yams from Mexico, soybeans, and yellow ginger provide a substance called diosgenin. Diosgenin is chemically synthesized into real human progesterone in the laboratory. The other human hormones, including estrogen, testosterone and the cortisones are also synthesized from diosgenin.

Does increasing progesterone levels help me if I have estrogen dominance?

When you have inadequate levels of progesterone, it causes your estrogen levels to go up.

Will increased progesterone cause feminine characteristics in men?

No, progesterone has no feminizing characteristics.

Will increased progesterone raise the levels of my other hormones?

Supplemental progesterone is not believed to raise the levels of other hormones, but it is believed to keep estrogen receptors working efficiently and improve thyroid function. CA Residents and Prop 65 Proposition 65 In the State of California, and only in the State of California, Proposition 65, the “Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Act of 1986”, was enacted as a ballot initiative in November 1986. The Proposition was intended by its authors to protect California citizens and the State's drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposures to such chemicals. Proposition 65 requires the Governor of California to publish, at least annually, a list of chemicals determined by the state of California to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment or OEHHA, has the list published on their web site at http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65.html. Any product available in the State of California that contains an item from the list on proposition 65 is required by the State of California to carry a warning.

Why is Natural Progesterone listed on Proposition 65?

The OEHHA reviewed a series of animal studies that used progestins (synthetic progesterone) and natural progesterone (bio-identical progesterone). Most of the studies done were with progestins and natural progesterone combined with synthetic estrogens. The administered doses of natural progesterone were up to 1000 times that found in natural progesterone creams and were either injected, oral or suppository. Just a few of the studies used natural progesterone exclusively and not one of the studies used a natural progesterone cream. Based on this review, the State of California made the decision to add natural progesterone (bio-identical) to proposition 65. California is the only state that has made this decision and no other State supports proposition 65.

 

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