What Is Progesterone?

  • Progesterone is a precursor hormone the human body uses to make other hormones including cortisol, DHEA, testosterone, and estrogen.
  • Progesterone is derived from cholesterol.
  • Progesterone regulates and balances estrogen. Maintenance of the balance between estrogen and progesterone is very important to minimize unpleasant symptoms and health risks.
  • Progesterone is primarily produced by the ovaries and secondarily produced by the adrenal and fat tissue.
  • Natural bioidentical progesterone is the exact chemical structure as the progesterone the human body produces. Because of this, natural progesterone exactly matches and fits the progesterone receptors (like “a key in a lock”) to yield its positive effects.
  • Synthetic progesterone does not exactly fit the progesterone receptors.
  • Unlike synthetic hormones, natural bioidentical progesterone has many benefits and no side effects when a woman has normal (physiological) levels.

What Does Progesterone Do?

  • Functions of natural progesterone include:
    • Brain protection and development: Progesterone is in a group called neurosteroids that have important protective effects on the brain. It is also responsible for developing intelligence and brain activity.
    • Pregnancy hormone: It helps maintain the uterus for pregnancy and helps maintain pregnancy..
    • Acts as a natural antidepressant.
    • Helps initiate sleep.
    • Has a calming effect by activating GABA receptors. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter (brain signal) that is very calming.
    • Acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
    • Regulates immune system response.
    • Normalizes blood clotting.
    • Normalizes vascular (blood vessel) tone.
    • Regulates blood sugar.
    • Uses fat stores for energy.
    • Increases metabolic rate (which increases fat loss).
    • Improves oxygen levels in cells.
    • Improves skin elasticity.
    • Improves bone strength.
    • Prevents endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterine lining) by balancing the effects of estrogen on the endometrium.

Benefits of Bioidentical Progesterone Replacement Therapy in Women

  • Improved quality of life
    • Mood changes: Progesterone is known as “the calming hormone.”
      • Improves mood and may eliminate depressed mood.
      • Decreases and may eliminate anxiety.
      • Decreases and may eliminate irritability.
    • Improves energy levels and decreases fatigue.
    • Improves sex drive and performance.
    • Decreases body fat by increasing metabolic rate.
    • Improves brain function
      •  Improves memory.
      • Improves concentration.
    • Improves sleep.
    • Helps balance estrogen.
    • Decreases and may eliminate night sweats.
    • Decreases and may eliminate hot flashes.
    • Decreases and may eliminate water retention.
    • Reduces pain and inflammation.
    • Regrowth of hair on the scalp/head.
  • Health benefits of progesterone replacement therapy in women
    • Improves blood pressure
    • Improves blood glucose and decreases the risk of diabetes
    • Enhances estrogen’s beneficial effects on blood vessels
    • Improves cholesterol levels
    • Reduces body fat and decreases the risk of developing obesity
    • Improves mental function
      • Improves memory and concentration
      • Decreases the risk of depression
    • Improves bone strength
      • Decreases the risk of developing osteoporosis
      • Decreases the risk of hip fractures and other broken bones
    • Decreases inflammation throughout the body
      • Inflammation has been shown to be a risk factor for heart disease and many other medical problems and illnesses.
    • Improves immune system function
    • May protect against breast cancer
    • Prevents endometrial (uterine lining) cancer by balancing the effects of estrogen

Perimenopause, Menopause and Progesterone

  • Natural progesterone levels often begin to naturally decline in women after the age of 30-35.
  • Perimenopausal and menopausal women often have a deficiency in progesterone that results in unpleasant symptoms.

Low Progesterone Levels in Woment

  • Causes of low natural progesterone levels in women include:
    • Natural decline with aging (i.e., perimenopause and menopause)
    • Other hormone imbalances will cause low progesterone levels, including:
      • Low thyroid levels
      • High estrogen levels
      • High cortisol levels (often due to chronic stress)
      • High prolactin levels
      • Low luteinizing hormone (LH) levels
    • Poor diet
      • Diet high in sugar
      • Diet high in saturated fats
    • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, particularly vitamins A, B6, C, and zinc
    • Antidepressant medications
  • Low progesterone levels also directly cause an imbalance of other hormones (such as estrogen excess and/or a decline in thyroid function), which further worsens symptoms.
  • Progesterone imbalance (both low and high) can cause many unpleasant symptoms and increase health risks:
    • Symptoms of low progesterone levels:
      • Hot flashes
      • Night sweats
      • Fatigue
      • Decreased sex drive (libido)
      • Weight gain
      • Mood changes
        • Depressed mood
        • Mood swings
        • Anxiety
        • Irritability
      • Decreased brain function
        • Memory loss
        • Decreased concentration
      • Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)
      • Headaches
      • Hypersensitivity
      • Excessive periods (menstruation)
    • Health risks associated with low progesterone levels:
      • Increased risk of depression
      • Increased risk of osteoporosis (weak bones)
      • Decreased HDL (good cholesterol)
      • Pain and inflammation
  • Progesterone imbalance also negatively affects the function of the other female hormones such as estrogen, thyroid, cortisol, DHEA, and testosterone, which will further worsen symptoms of progesterone imbalance.

High Progesterone Levels in Women

  • Commonly caused by excessive progesterone being prescribed by physicians who are inexperienced with bioidentical hormone therapy.
  • May also be due low estrogen (such as in menopausal women).
  • Symptoms of too much natural progesterone include: weight gain, increased fat storage, fatigue, decreased sex drive, depression, bloating, constipation, increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings, suppressed immune system function, decreased growth hormone levels, muscle aches, urinary incontinence, and insulin resistance.

To treat progestorone imbalance, consult a hormone replacement therapy doctor in Arizona