Hormone Power-Up: Progesterone Wonders for Women’s Well-Being

Synthetic progestin and oral estrogen hormone replacement have been widely broadcasted as posing serious health risks for women. However, bio-identical progesterone and topical estrogen hold important benefits for women’s health. These hormones can help alleviate PMS, mitigate menopausal issues, and reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.

Progesterone’s Health Benefits

As a natural calming hormone, progesterone can help women feel better when experiencing PMS symptoms like bloating, irritability, breast tenderness, migraines, and anxiety. It is typically taken at night to ease sleepiness. Progesterone is also used to help minimize heavy or painful periods. Common symptoms of progesterone deficiency include facial bloating, tension, and pressure before the menstrual period. Painful or cyst-prone breasts can also indicate low progesterone levels, as well as ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids.

Progesterone supplementation is used to alleviate symptoms of early menopause when ovarian function declines, and the ovaries cease producing estrogen. Menopausal symptoms include hot flashes, breast tenderness, worsening PMS, decreased sex drive, vaginal dryness, irregular periods, fatigue, urinary issues, mood swings, and insomnia.

Health Protection

Aside from supporting women in dealing with PMS and perimenopause symptoms, natural progesterone supplementation is employed to shield women from heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis (brittle bones). This results from progesterone’s ability to counter specific adverse effects of estrogen, lowering the chances of uterine and breast cancer. Studies have shown that progesterone reduces the risk of breast cancer:

  • A 1981 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology discovered that premenopausal breast cancer risk was 5.4 times higher in women with low progesterone levels compared to those with normal levels.
  • A 2002 case-control study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that increasing levels of progesterone were linked to a decreased risk of breast cancer, particularly before the age of 50.
  • In a 2004 study from the International Journal of Cancer, 5,963 women were followed to investigate progesterone levels and associated breast cancer risks.
  • A 2008 study followed more than 80,000 postmenopausal women for over eight years and exhibited that using progesterone with estrogen significantly lowered breast cancer risk in comparison to using synthetic progestin.

Progesterone is beneficial for heart health, contributing to vascular relaxation. Studies in the Women’s Health Initiative have demonstrated that progesterone increases the cardio-protective effects of estrogen and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Progesterone also enhances lipid profiles, supporting estrogen in improving lipid profiles and various studies have proven this fact when comparing progesterone with estrogen versus progestins with estrogen.

Dosing Guidelines

Women experiencing PMS symptoms can use daily sustained-release or topical cream progesterone on days 14 through 25 of their cycle. If dealing with perimenopausal symptoms, the same progesterone dose applies, but starting on day 12 of the cycle can help control irregular bleeding.

Vaginal suppositories also provide good absorption like creams. If progesterone alone doesn’t control perimenopausal symptoms, adding bi-estrogen (estradiol plus estriol) in a topical cream at a dose of ¼ to ½ mg daily can provide relief.

After Menopause

Women should consider using both progesterone and estrogen after menopause, even if experiencing no symptoms. These hormones offer significant benefits to the heart, liver, brain, bones, and skin. They can be consumed daily or with a three-to-five-day break each month. The strengthening and libido-enhancing benefits of daily low-dose testosterone (¼ to 1 mg) or DHEA (a precursor hormone to testosterone) can be considered as well.

Progesterone supplementation can be an excellent option for those in need, due to its ability to reduce PMS and perimenopause symptoms while improving mood and sleep. It also decreases the risk of breast cancer, uterine cancer, and heart disease and provides effective protection against osteoporosis. Its safety lies in the fact that it is not a progestin. The health benefits of transdermal estrogen supplementation will be covered in a subsequent article.