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Why Progesterone is Essential for Women and Men

by Barbara Minton
See all TBYIL articles by Barbara Minton

(The Best Years in Life) Big Pharma calls their progesterone substitution drugs 'progestins'.  These are a synthetic attempt to mimic real progesterone, and it is the most dangerous of all the hormone substitution drugs.  The havoc wreaked in the body from progestins is why the Women's Health Initiative Study was stopped prematurely after many women developed devastating side effects from its use.  But nature has supplied us with an alternative to deadly progestin drugs for hormone replacement -- safe and protective natural progesterone. Why do women and men need progesterone? Without it there can be no hormone balance and the body cannot achieve the health and harmony that is homeostasis.

Optimal levels of progesterone are essential for balancing estrogen and testosterone.  When these and the other bodily hormones are all in balance, homeostasis is achieved and life is joyous and filled with energy and zest. Degenerative disease is virtually unheard of.  But the more we veer away from homeostasis, the worse we feel and the closer we skate to a diagnosis of one or more of the many diseases that plague so many people as the years go by.

Progesterone is thought of as a female hormone, but small amounts of it are  essential in males where is influences spermigenesis, sperm reaction and testosterone biosynthesis in Leydig cells.  Progesterone is non-cycling in males and a continuous supply is needed for its effects on the cardiovascular system, immunity, kidney function, fat tissue, behavior, and respiratory system. 

In women progesterone cycles just as estrogen does.  Progesterone is present only during the second half of the monthly cycle (the luteal phase), coming on stage like gangbusters just as estrogen is exiting.  This relationship reflects the fact that progesterone is the primary balancing hormone for the aggressive tendencies of estrogen.

Progesterone is a critical metabolic intermediary in the production of other endogenous steroid hormones, including estrogen and testosterone, and the corticosteroids.  It plays a big role in the synthesis of steroids in the brain.


Progesterone is the principle hormone of gestation

The word 'progesterone' implies it is the critical hormone during the gestation period.  It is made in the collapsed follicle in the ovaries until either menstruation begins or the placenta takes charge of continuous production of the hormone during pregnancy.  Progesterone causes the endometrium to receive and nourish the fertilized egg.  If no egg is implanted, progesterone levels drop and the cycle begins anew.

If pregnancy occurs, progesterone levels remain elevated until birth, when they drop precipitously. It this plunge that is responsible for the post-partum depression many new mothers suffer, and it can be alleviated by the use of natural progesterone cream. 

The team of estrogen and progesterone is a strong one

If you have read our article on estrogen, you probably realize that it works in tandem with progesterone.  Each of these hormones creates a balance for the other in many aspects, one of which is building healthy bone. 

While estrogen slows bone loss, progesterone stimulates the formation of new bone, and both hormones are essential to the maintenance and production of healthy bone. The reason bone drugs such as Fosomax and the other bisphosphonates produce bones that fracture easily is because they address only one of these functions, the function of restraining bone loss.  They allow old bone to ossify, become brittle and fracture, the very thing they are advertised to prevent.  They do nothing to stimulate the replacement of old bone with vital new bone growth.  Only progesterone can do that.  No matter how many organic fruits and vegetables you eat,  calcium and other supplements you take, or hours spent exercising, you cannot build healthy bone without progesterone.

And just as unbalanced estrogen is the hormone of irritability, nagging, obsession, anxiety, agitation and panic, progesterone calms, relaxes and soothes. It is a best friend for anyone experiencing PMS.

What else can this amazing hormone do?

Progesterone helps to prevent migraines, normalize blood clotting, and improve vascular tone.  A good deal of research has found that having optimal levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone drastically lowers the risk of breast and other cancers, and other degenerative diseases.

Progesterone helps keep cells oxygenated, and normalizes blood sugar levels.  It also boosts thyroid function, and decreases inflammation and water retention. Through its function of toning blood vessels, progesterone can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of chronic vascular insufficiency, a disease that strikes when progesterone levels are insufficient.

Having optimal levels of progesterone helps women to maintain their ideal weight.  It is a natural diuretic and fat burner.  If you are gaining weight and feeling bloated in the days leading up to your period, you are probably very low on progesterone.

Are you showing the symptoms of progesterone deficiency?

Symptoms of progesterone deficiency can line up with symptoms of other health issues.  But if you are having several of these symptoms and have passed the age of 28, it is highly probably that you do not have enough progesterone:

  • Irregular periods

  • Ovarian cysts

  • Miscarriages

  • Endometriosis

  • Passing of blood colts during menstruation

  • Sore and swollen breasts

  • Menstrual cramps

  • Fibrocystic breasts

  • Polycystic ovaries

  • Unexplained weight gain

  • Sugar craving

  • Allergies

  • Arthritis

  • Brittle nails

  • Acne

  • Itching

  • Fatigue

  • Digestive problems

  • Osteoporosis or osteopenia

  • Sluggish metabolism

  • Anxiety or panic attacks

Why are women losing progesterone at such an early age?

The modern world we live is filled with substances our ancestors didn't have to cope with.  Xenoestrogens (foreign estrogens) are found throughout our environment in the form of petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and plastics.  They are even in the exhaust from cars and trucks.  These exposures can overwhelm progesterone production.

During embryonic life, we are especially sensitive to xenoestrogens, and we can develop dysfunctional hormone systems as a result.  Xenoestrogens remain in the body and do not biodegrade as the estrogen we make naturally does.  They stay with us for life, influencing the functioning of our bodies. 

The stress of modern living is another factor.  Stress increases cortisol which can then block the access of progesterone to its receptors, thus blocking the action of progesterone.

How can we make sure we have enough progesterone?

The building block for progesterone and the other hormones is cholesterol, and blocking cholesterol with statin drugs ruins hormone production, still one more good reason not to take them.  Having a diet that provides adequate cholesterol (eggs, butter, bacon, etc) is important.

An herb known as Vitex can help to lower estrogen and raise progesterone so that the two come into balance.  But this herb works subtly and is usually only effective for women in the early stages of progesterone decline.  After that, supplementing progesterone is a must.

Watch out for xenoestrogens in canned food liners and plastic water bottles.  Get rid of stored paint cans, stop microwaving food, and use personal care products that contain only ingredients you can recognize.

The term 'estrogen dominance' doesn't mean you have too much estrogen.  It means you don't have enough progesterone.  This can be remedied best by using natural progesterone cream which is bioidentical to the progesterone made in the body.  It can be found in health food stores or online.  No prescription is required, and simply follow the directions on the container. 

If you would like to learn more about progesterone and other steroid hormones, many of the leading specialists in anti-aging medicine have highly informative websites that include studies.  These are some of the best:

See also:

Why Estrogen is a Woman's Friend, Not Her Enemy

Replacing Lost Hormones is the Greatest Gift You can Give Yourself

Understand the Great Importance of Hormones to Your Health

The Whole Truth about Bioidentical Hormones

For more information:

About the Author:

Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.

See other articles by the Barbara Minton here:

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