Menopause and the Benefits of Natural Progesterone Supplementation
Progesterone is an important hormone for both women and men (yes, it’s true). It is one of the numerous hormones converted naturally from the precursor hormone pregnenolone.
Progesterone is one of the primary hormones related to pregnancy and menses. It is manufactured by the ovaries of menstruating women and is later synthesized, to some degree, by the adrenal glands of menopausal women. (Small amounts are also created by the testes in males.)
An important precursor hormone, it is used to create other sex hormones, such as estrogens, as well as a class of hormones known as corticosteroids. The latter are responsible for blood pressure, stress response and a host of other survival mechanisms in the body.
Undoubtedly the most important role of this hormone in the female body is that it makes possible the survival of an implanted, fertilized egg. It is sometimes referred to as the pregnancy hormone. As the embryo develops, progesterone production increases. By the third trimester, a pregnant woman’s body is literally awash in this hormone. The concentration in the body may be up to 100 times higher than before pregnancy.
Fertility specialists sometimes utilize natural progesterone to assist with high-risk pregnancies. Postpartum depression, directly caused by the rapid decrease in progesterone production after childbirth, can be relieved by supplementing with this hormone.
In menopausal women, progesterone levels drop off significantly in relation to estrogen levels. (This can result in an unhealthy condition known as Estrogen Dominance Syndrome .) If you are in menopause artificially, due to a hysterectomy (with or without removal of the ovaries), have experienced a serious illness or have undergone cancer treatments, your drop may be even more severe and significant. Progesterone deficiency can be linked to an increased risk of cancer, as well as an increased risk of osteoporosis.
Symptoms of progesterone deficiency in menopausal women may include:
- cystic breasts
- anxiety, irritability
- painful and/or lumpy breasts
- water retention (water weight gain)
- loss of bone mass (osteoporosis)
Supplementation has many benefits for menopausal and pre-menopausal women-
Controls water retention (natural diuretic properties)
- Protects against breast cancer
- Promotes healthy bones,stops the progression of bone loss
- Enhances mood (natural anti-depressant); has calming, sedating effect
- Promotes overall hormone balance, since it is a precursor hormone
- Enhances sex drive
- Improves quality of sleep (insomnia can be a major issue for menopausal women)
- Assists the body in burning and utilizing fat for energy
- May help to shrink fibroids and ovarian cysts
- Natural progesterone may very well be the most important hormone supplement for aging women. Creams and gels may be purchased over the counter (usually 3% creams) or it may be prescribed by a physician in more concentrated formulations. It may also be customized in other forms, such as sublingual lozenges and drops, by a compounding pharmacist.As always, be sure to consult with a qualified medical practitioner to discuss your specific needs and health goals.
- Important note…Progesterone is NOT to be confused with progestin, which is a synthesized (and therefore chemically altered) form of the hormone. (for example, Premarin) While natural progesterone has few known side effects, progestin causes many documented side effects , many of which are severe.
- Progestins actually interfere with the body’s own production of progesterone by occupying the receptor sites. An advisory group for the Womens Health Initiative (WHI), based on preliminary findings in early 2002, called an immediate halt to clinical trials focused on the effect of estrogen and progestins.
- Clinical trial participants showed marked increases for the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, blood clots and breast cancer. The Journal of American Medicine released a subsequent report in July 2002, also declaring that progestins “increased risks for cardiovascular disease and invasive breast cancer”.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or other medical condition. This information is provided for educational and informational purposes only. Please consult with your doctor should you have specific health questions or concerns.