The importance of progesterone , a crucial sex hormone, is often overlooked. Progesterone imbalance affects both women and men. Scientific research is beginning to shed light on the importance of maintaining a balance between progesterone and estrogen for overall health and well-being. It is also beginning to show significant differences between the natural (bioidentical) and synthetic versions.

Bioidentical Progesterone Supplement

The primary hormones that are prescribed for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or birth control pills are derived from synthetic sources. They do not have the same function in the body as our biological hormones.

Studies show that synthetic hormones are linked to an increase in certain health problems. According to the Women’s Health Initiative study , an experiment involving hormone replacement therapy was stopped early due to the increase in breast cancer.

Breast cancer rates have declined significantly since the reports of this study were published in 2002.

Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women

Discussion on Routine Hormone Replacement Therapy (Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health).

Currently, natural progesterone (bioidentical hormone therapy) is beginning to gain recognition for its beneficial effects.

According to Dr. John R. Lee, an authority on hormonal balance: “Natural progesterone has a molecular structure identical to the progesterone produced by the human body and is created through the fermentation process of Mexican wild yam.”

Reduced progesterone levels

From the time menstruation begins until menopause, estrogen and progesterone levels in women drop and flow to promote reproduction.

Between the ages of 35 and 40, women reach perimenopause. This is when your progesterone and estrogen levels start to drop.

During this time until about age 50, there is a 35% drop in estrogen, but a 75% drop in progesterone occurs at the same time. This normal process creates the accepted perimenopausal symptoms as part of the aging process.

Premenopausal women and many women in menopause are overloaded with estrogen. At the same time, they suffer from progesterone deficiency due to the severe drop in physiological production during this period.

This results in an inability to counteract the amount of estrogen in the body. It is most noticeable among perimenopausal women who do not ovulate. A common occurrence, a woman may appear to have a fairly normal cycle, but no egg is released and very little progesterone is produced.

Importance of progesterone

“This essential hormone also plays a role in the development of healthy nerve cells and brain and thyroid function. Synthetic progestins tend to block the body’s ability to make and use natural progesterone to maintain these life-promoting functions. ” ~

Progesterone can help prevent estrogen from affecting health, among other protective factors. Therefore, supplementing with a natural progesterone cream can help. It can correct hormonal imbalances that cause symptoms associated with estrogen dominance.

Progesterone is also the main fertility and pregnancy hormone. It is essential for the survival of the fertilized egg, embryo, and fetus. In pregnancy, it prevents shedding of the uterine lining, as a drop in progesterone can lead to miscarriage.

Natural progesterone helps counteract the negative effects of estrogen . When there is not enough progesterone to counteract estrogen, one can start to have symptoms of estrogen dominance.

Common symptoms can include PMS, heavy or irregular periods, irritability, weight gain, anxiety, hair loss, low libido, fibrocystic breasts, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids.

Men can also experience symptoms related to estrogen dominance.

Progesterone deficiency symptoms in women and men

Symptoms in women

  • Hot flushes
  • Tender breasts
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Anxiety
  • Hair loss
  • Bone loss
  • Low libido
    Night sweats
  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Sterility
  • Weight gain
  • Acne
  • Swelling
  • Humor changes
  • Memory lapses
  • Loss of muscle
  • Nervousness
  • Excess facial / body hair
  • Heavy or painful periods
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability

Symptoms in men

  • Prostate problems
  • Breast augmentation
  • Loss of bone / muscle
  • Impotence
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Male patterned baldness
  • Weight gain
  • Low libido

Causes of the imbalance between progesterone and estrogen

  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Poor liver function
  • Birth control pills
  • Plant estrogens (soy, flaxseed, red clover)
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Peri-menopause
  • Glandular dysfunction
  • Environmental estrogens

Progesterone as a building block

Additionally, progesterone is a building block for many other hormones, including corticosteroids. They are produced by the adrenal glands and are essential for stress response, electrolyte balance, blood pressure, and survival.

Without adequate progesterone, cortisone synthesis is impaired and the body turns to alternative pathways. These alternative pathways have male-produced side effects, such as long facial hairs and thinning of the scalp. Cortisol, DHEA, testosterone, and estrogen are made from progesterone in a process that begins with cholesterol.

Importance of balancing progesterone and estrogen

Hormones have a profound effect on your everyday health and well-being. Although it is only present in small amounts, it affects every cell.

Hormones not only have individual effects, but they also interact with each other to produce dramatic effects in the body. Due to these interactions, they can activate multiple body systems.

The balance of hormones in a woman’s body is very important. At different times in a woman’s life, hormonal imbalance can be caused by stress, obesity, liver failure, birth control pills, plant estrogens (soy, flaxseed, red clover), hormone replacement therapy, perimenopause, glandular dysfunction, and estrogens environmental

Regardless of the cause, the end result of an estrogen-to-progesterone imbalance adds up to a condition that has been termed “estrogen dominance.”

This condition can lead to symptoms of PMS, perimenopause, or menopause.

Problems with synthetic progesterone (progestin)

It is important to understand the difference between natural bioidentical progesterone and the synthetic version commonly known as progestin. Natural progesterone is not a patentable product.

Therefore, pharmaceutical companies have altered this hormone to produce synthetic progestins, which are patentable and generally used in contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Synthetic progestins are not exact replicas of the body’s natural progesterone. Although there is a big difference between the effects of the natural and synthetic versions, doctors often interchange their names.

The synthetic version of this hormone is not really progesterone; it is a progestogen. Progestins are synthetic progesterone-like compounds made by pharmaceutical companies.

Synthetic progesterones are much more potent than the body’s own natural progesterone and are metabolized as foreign substances into toxic metabolites and can seriously interfere with the body’s natural progesterone, create other hormone-related health problems, and further exacerbate the dominance of the estrogen.

Progestin side effects

Unfortunately, there is a long list of side effects, some of which are quite severe.

  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Fluid retention
  • Increased risk of birth defects
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Tender breasts
  • Breakthrough bleeding
  • Acne
  • Insomnia
  • Hirsutism (hair growth)
  • Edema
  • Weight changes
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Premenstrual syndrome

Most importantly, synthetic progestins lack the intrinsic physiological benefits of progesterone, so they cannot function on major biosynthetic pathways like progesterone does and can disrupt many critical processes in the body.

Natural progesterone benefits include

  • Promoting a healthy balance of sex hormones
  • Have a calming effect
  • Helps improve mood
  • Helps normalize menstrual cycles
  • Increase sexual desire
  • Helps use fat for energy

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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