We are all familiar with the female sex hormone called estrogen, but another key female hormone produced is progesterone. Many women are familiar with progesterone as a hormone that is essential for fertility and for pregnancy. Once a woman hits perimenopause, progesterone production in the ovaries starts to decline. By the time she reaches menopause, progesterone levels are typically so low that they are similar to those normally seen in men. This is why women transitioning into the menopause stage tend to experience irregular bleeding, because they don’t have as much progesterone to help thin out that endometrial lining.
Over the years, researchers have found that it is far more than a gestational agent. Progesterone is sometimes thought of as the miracle hormone. It has a calming effect on both the mind and the body. Depleted amounts can cause mood swings and increased anxiety and/or depression. It is also classified as a neuro-steroid, meaning that is stimulates normal brain processes and helps the nervous system to function properly.
Other benefits include:
- Helps to prevent overgrowth of certain cell types, which can help protect against some cancers of the breast or uterus as well as an overgrowth of the endometrial lining.
- Helps with symptoms of PMS.
- Helps the metabolism by contributing to the use of fat for energy.
- Essential for bone growth.
- Improves insomnia.
- Improves libido.
- Reduce hot flashes.
- Reduce weight gain.
Progesterone is one of many hormones that your body produces, and they all work together. Imbalances in one hormone can affect the others. Estrogen and progesterone work together, and if levels of progesterone are low, this can create what’s called estrogen dominance that can cause a whole other list of side effects. The two also work together to balance the body’s release of insulin and if levels are not optimized, you can have an increased risk for diabetes.
IS BIOIDENTICAL PROGESTERONE SAFE?
There is a false stigma around hormone replacement therapy, progesterone specifically, that there is an increased risk of breast cancer and blood clots with bioidentical progesterone. It is important to note that these were findings when it came to synthetic progesterone, not bioidentical.
Another aspect that causes confusion is that not all providers specialize in this field. Some physicians believe that progesterone should only be given to women that still have their uterus-for the protective properties it supplies. However, progesterone receptors are everywhere in the body and the protective benefits listed above are realized throughout.
You may be asking now, well what makes a bioidentical hormone better and safer than synthetic? A bioidentical hormone is molecularly identical to what is produced in the body. There are no extra steps the body needs to take to absorb this hormone, because the body naturally recognizes it. The synthetic version is a completely different molecular structure that does not metabolize the same compounds and instead of providing protective health benefits, is actually carrying over some serious health risks.