HORMONE REVIEW: PROGESTERONE
One of the two main hormones in women’s bodies is called progesterone. This hormone is a regulatory chemical produced primarily in the ovaries and in lesser amounts in the adrenal glands. (Men produce small amounts amount as well.)Progesterone is primarily produced in the second half of the women’s menstrual cycle and is the hormone necessary for the survival of the fetus. Normal levels on day 21 of the cycle are 20-30 ng/ml. More often than a deficiency in estrogen, women are deficient in progesterone. In my practice I see many women with low progesterone; with symptoms of prolonged or heavy bleeding, shorter cycles, not nursing clean, staining, depression, PMS ( pre-menstrual syndrome),thyroid disease, mood swings, fatigue, headaches, hair loss, swelling, and osteo-penia/osteoporosis.
There are two types of progesterone available from the doctor: natural progesterone or a synthetic version. The synthetic called Provera has added side chains not found in the natural human bio-identical form. These side-chains make Provera recognized as a foreign substance in the body, leading to an increase risk of side effects. Most complimentary holistic doctors find the natural hormone safer and more effective for both treatment and prevention. Of particular interest to me, as I have special interest in the thyroid gland, is that natural progesterone makes thyroid receptors more receptive to thyroid hormone. Many patients can therefore reduce their amount of thyroid hormone.
Natural progesterone can counteract the excess estrogen stimulation caused by over excessive estrogen production or from ingesting environmental estrogen-like chemicals found in pesticides, petro-chemicals, and other pollution. So if fibroid benign tumor growths are a product of excess estrogen stimulation to the uterus using natural progesterone will most often regress in size.
A major health issue among women especially is poor bone density, osteopenia and then osteoporosis. The drugs such as Fosomax have serious negative side effects, and are often not tolerated by the patient. Often we find low progesterone levels and sometimes low DHEA levels concomitantly. Prescribing natural progesterone along with other mineral and vitamin supplements reverses osteoporosis in many cases. Though mainstream doctors routinely treat osteoporosis with estrogens research has shown that estrogen maintains or stops the progression of osteoporosis but does not reverse it. Many other studies have demonstrated progesterone’s ability to increase bone density, thereby reversing osteoporosis.
Progesterone is found in small amounts in men, just as testosterone is found in smaller amounts in women. Men can benefit from natural progesterone in conditions such as cardio-vascular disease, prostate issues, fatigue, autoimmune diseases, decreased libido and others. Doctors have found a correlation between coronary artery disease and low progesterone levels.
General advice for women regarding ovary health includes eating fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Eliminate caffeine and drink lots of water. As mentioned in many of my articles, iodine is concentrated in the ovaries and is necessary for proper function. A large majority of women are deficient in iodine and must supplement.
In summary, every women and men as well should be aware of their hormone balance. As an example, if thousands of patients who are given ant-depressant drugs were properly tested for progesterone levels and when sub-normal were treated with natural progesterone a large percentage of these patients would not need their meds and feel much improved.
In my practice I have found many women low in progesterone and have suggested use of a progesterone cream used topically usually for 21 days and followed with a 7 day hiatus. It is not expensive, over-the-counter and usually very effective. Results are seen rather quickly. Occasionally a stronger dose is beneficial and a doctor may prescribe a pill or suppository.