Progesterone is a hormone made by the corpus luteum of the ovary during ovulation. A small quantity is made by the adrenal gland. Progesterone has many functions in the female life cycle. It is commonly overlooked because estrogen gets all the publicity. It has an important balancing effect to estrogen. It can safely and effectively relieve PMS and menopausal symptoms, protect against cancer, prevent osteoporosis, improve libido, and overall well being.
Historically, physicians were accustomed to prescribing the synthetic progesterone called progestin. The synthetic progestins cause the same problems and side effects as synthetic estrogen and do not provide the benefits realized by "natural" progesterone. Natural progesterone (more correctly called bioidentical progesterone) means that it is biologically identical to the progesterone that is made by our body. In order to absorb progesterone, it must be micronized (made into small molecules that can be absorbed)
Natural progesterone enhances the action of estrogen as these two hormones work together to maintain normal hormonal balance. The lack of progesterone causes similar disease processes as does lack of estrogen, which include osteoporosis, heart disease, decrease in libido, and a significantly diminished quality of life. The combination of natural progesterone and estrogen can prevent this downward spiral by keeping women vital, strong, and healthy.
Many women complain of the side effects of synthetic progestins and now are finding that natural progesterone has minimal if any side effects. Unfortunately there is only one product on the market today which is made by a pharmaceutical company - Prometrium. It is oral, must be taken on an empty stomach, and cannot be taken by anyone with a peanut allergy. It is a very good product but has limitations. It may cause drowsiness. This may be helpful for some women who have difficulty sleeping which is a common symptom at menopause. It may have a sedating effect, which may be helpful for women who are anxious. There is also vaginal progesterone which is used in treating infertility patients.
Special compounding pharmacies can put together combinations of hormones including natural progesterone and estrogen. A particularly effective way of getting your hormones is through the skin (transdermal). This means that the hormone goes directly through the skin into the bloodstream. Lower doses of hormones can be used when it is administered transdermally. There are generally less side effects when hormones are administered transdermally. Due to some of the possible side effects of hormones (breast tenderness, bloating, weight gain etc.) the lowest dose should always be prescribed.
Some women do not care to use estrogen products. Using progesterone cream might be an alternative. Some of the important reasons to use progesterone cream include:
  1. Premenstrual Syndrome--cyclic moodiness, depression, anxiety, irritability, bloating, and headaches
  2. Perimenopausal symptoms-- hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, decreased libido
  3. Menopause --  to promote bone growth and decrease the risk of osteoporosis, for sleep disturbances, prevent vaginal dryness and painful intercourse, and to lessen the decreased libido seen with aging (men and women)
  4. Wellness-- along with proper diet and exercise to help prevent heart disease and increased cholesterol
  5. As an anti-oxidant to decrease the risk of cancer
  6. To stay lean -- aging is associated with a decreased metabolic rate and weight gain, loss of muscle mass and increased fat deposition
  7. For men, to balance their hormones as well.
  8. For hair loss -- it can be massaged in to the scalp
Progesterone cream is available at some compounding pharmacies but requires a prescription and your insurance may not pay for it. Progest cream is an over-the-counter product but The Women’s Wellness Place cannot attest to its purity.
One option for an over the counter progesterone product is Progest which can be found at www.emerita.com

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