When we talk about female hormones, we don’t often talk about progesterone. In terms of fertility, progesterone is the hormone needed in the second half of the cycle to keep the lining of the womb thick for implantation of the fertilised egg. However, it has other benefits which are often overlooked.
The Benefits of Progesterone
Progesterone has positive effects on mood, sleep, energy, skin, hair, bloating and fluid retention.
Did you know one of the reasons people get premenstrual headaches and mood sleeps is due to low progesterone levels? In menopause, a lot of mood and sleep issues are due to low progesterone.
I’ve seen numerous patients put on antidepressant medications and one even told she had bipolar affective disorder. By balancing the progesterone levels we’ve been able to reduce the other medications prescribed.
The confusing thing is that most doctors prescribe the pill or conventional HRT, which has a synthetic progestin in it, and this progestin is just commonly referred to as ‘progesterone.’ Synthetic progestins can cause bloating, acne, weight gain, and low mood. Yet bioidentical progesterone does the opposite. Because of this, a lot of women are scared to take progesterone due to bad experiences with synthetic progestin.
Think about when a woman is pregnant. A lot of women get the ‘pregnancy glow’ and they look amazing and their hair can be glossy and shiny. Then, after giving birth, some women develop post natal depression where their mood can be quite low. The pregnancy glow is caused by high levels of progesterone and the low mood after giving birth by the rapid drop in progesterone.
How Can We Balance Our Progesterone Levels?
Firstly, you can have your progesterone levels checked. Either via a saliva test that can monitor your progesterone throughout your cycle or by having a blood test around day 21 of the cycle. It’s always important to also check the oestradiol level to compare the two and see if they’re in balance.
If you are having a cycle and feel you have an imbalance, simple changes like cutting out sugar, eating more protein and less carbohydrates, and exercising, may help balance the hormones.
Some women take supplements like agnus castus or evening primrose oil to help to balance hormones.
Some women choose to use a progesterone cream before their period to help balance the hormones and relieve pre-menstrual symptoms like mood changes and headaches. This can also help periods to be lighter and less painful.
Progesterone cream can be controversial to conventional doctors. It’s best to speak to someone with experience of this, and also to do your own research.
If you’re in menopause, bioidentical progesterone can be an option for you instead of synthetic progestin. If you have a womb, progestin or bioidentical progesterone is needed to protect the lining of the womb from becoming too thick, which can lead to endometrial cancer. If you don’t have a womb, you may want to consider using a low dose of bioidentical progesterone to help with mood and sleep issues.
Progesterone can be a wonder hormone for many women.
It can help with mood and sleep, ease premenstrual symptoms and help with hair and skin issues.
Progestin and progesterone are often used interchangeably, but they are two different hormones.
You can often balance progesterone levels by making diet and lifestyle changes.
Bioidentical progesterone can be taken in a cream form to balance hormones, or orally. It’s best to discuss with a hormone specialist before embarking on treatment.
For more information about the importance of hormone balance, read this.
Progesterone, Menopause, and Weight Gain