Ever wonder why progesterone is important?
Progesterone is a hormone released by the ovaries. Changing progesterone levels can contribute to abnormal menstrual periods. It can also contribute to perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms.
Progesterone is necessary for implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus and for maintaining pregnancy. Prior to ovulation, progesterone helps prepare the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to receive the egg if it becomes fertilized by a sperm. If the egg is not fertilized, the progesterone levels drop and menstrual bleeding begins. The cycle repeats itself each month unless pregnancy occurs.
If pregnancy does occur, progesterone levels remain high in order to create the right environment for the egg to remain inside the uterus. Levels of progesterone in a pregnant woman are about 10 times higher than they are in a non-pregnant woman. During pregnancy, the placenta also produces high levels of progesterone, starting near the end of the first trimester and continuing until the baby is born.
As with all hormones, sometimes they can go out of balance, leading to certain symptoms. As women age, their hormone levels will also eventually decline as they head into perimenopause and menopause.
What you may not realize, is that as we age and the progesterone levels fall, this can create a state of estrogen dominance. This is what happened to me when I was going through perimenopause and is what I see happen to many women that can leave you feeling miserable.
What about taking progesterone replacement?
First of all, I would never recommend this without first knowing your hormone levels. Inside the Path to Hormone Health Membership, I share the advantages and disadvantages of various hormone testing options.
A woman may, under the guidance of her health practitioner, take progesterone by mouth or topically for irregular menstrual periods; and treating abnormal uterine bleeding associated with hormonal imbalance. She also may take it for severe symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Women who are concerned about getting pregnant, or staying pregnant, should also get their progesterone levels tested. They might then take supplements or progesterone if their levels are low to support a pregnancy.
Progesterone is also used in combination with the hormone estrogen to balance it out as part of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in menopausal women. If estrogen is given as HRT without progesterone, this could increase the risk of uterine cancer.
Progesterone is natural muscle relaxant, and can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, and poor sleep.
Progesterone cream is sometimes used in hormone replacement therapy and for treating menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. The trouble is that many of these creams are not regulated carefully, with the label and ingredients not matching one another. It is best to have progesterone creams compounding by a compounding pharmacy. This helps to ensure quality and proper dosing to meet your specific needs.
Progesterone can help relieve typical symptoms of PMS and perimenopause, such as:
· breast tenderness
· decreased sex drive
· lumpy breasts (cystic)
· low blood sugar, especially in women with diabetes
· increased blood clotting
· irritability and mood swings
· memory problems (brain ‘fog’) or memory loss
· osteoporosis (bone loss and brittle bones)
· thyroid issues
· uterine cancer
· uterine fibroids
· weight gain
· vaginal changes in skin and irritation.
Progesterone is sometimes used inside the vagina to expand the cervix to make child birth through the birth canal easier. It has been used to treat breast pain in women with non-cancerous breast disease, and to prevent and treat endometrial hyperplasia, an abnormal thickening of the inner lining of the uterus, which could be an early sign of endometrial cancer.
Now that you understand the important roles of progesterone in your body, if you have been struggling with any of the above issues, or troublesome symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, it might be worth a visit to your health care provider.
If you are ready to take a more active role in your hormone health, join me inside the Path to Hormone Health Membership Tribe.