LET'S FACE IT— your hormones rule. When
they're out of whack, you are, too and when they're in harmony,
everything else feels harmonious, as well. It's not uncommon to
blame all kinds of extraneous factors on our hormones but such
offhanded comments carry more truth than you realize.
In fact, the numbers tell a very serious tale indeed. Did you
know that over 75 percent of women are currently suffering from
haywire hormones in their body directly related to a deficiency of
one hormone? That hormone is progesterone.
When your numbers dwindle, your body can react in a whole
host of unpleasant ways. These include emotionally (mood
swings, nervousness, anxiety, depression) and physically (stalled
weight loss, osteopenia, osteoporosis, pain, inflammation), as
well as a shot libido, thinning hair, skipped periods, and insomnia-ridden
WHY IS MY PRODUCTION DOWN?
If you suspect that this may apply to you and are wondering how
you became progesterone deficient in the first place, here are a
few likely culprits.
- Your body is converting progesterone into cortisol as a result of stress.
- You are deficient in zinc and vitamin B6, nutrient precursors of progesterone.
- You are not ovulating regularly, leaving you without a corpus luteum to create progesterone in the first place.
So, what exactly is progesterone? It is a hormone involved in
female sexual behavior, pregnancy, and menstruation that is
produced in the ovaries, the placenta, and the adrenal glands.
Known as the “feel good hormone,” progesterone is up to 20
times more concentrated in the brain than in the blood stream.
This hormone functions as a stabilizing force, counter-balancing
estrogen. It has numerous positive benefits including promoting
fat burn, helping to normalize blood sugar and cell oxygen levels,
and acting as an antidepressant.
As menstruation slows during perimenopause, so does
the production of progesterone. The decline in progesterone
means the body now lacks some of its estrogen-equalizing force.
This imbalance contributes to some of the nastier symptoms of
perimenopause such as decreased libido, depressed mood, and
hypothyroidism-like symptoms like fatigue and weight gain.
However, don't think you're in the clear if you haven't quite
reached the perimenopause stage of life yet. In fact, no woman
isn't at risk because these days having a progesterone deficiency
seems to be common among women ages 18 to 80. This is
because many of all ages lack the necessary nutrient precursors
for their body to produce progesterone, especially zinc and
vitamin B6, as I mentioned earlier.
Besides its ability to counteract the undesirable effects of estrogen,
progesterone functions as both a buffer to and a treatment for
various ailments. It has been credited with fighting heart disease
and cancer. In women in their thirties and forties, progesterone
plays an active role in bone density, and a high progesterone level
is a major protective factor against later osteoporosis.
By increasing body energy, probably by helping thyroid
hormones work better, progesterone causes a very slight but
often noticeable rise in your body temperature when you ovulate,
contributing to enhanced metabolism. This varies from woman
Because progesterone plays a promotional role in so
many functions critical to a good quality of life like mood and
libido, normal fluctuations in this hormone can have potentially
deleterious effects. After a fertilized egg settles on the uterus wall,
ovarian progesterone cares for it. After the placenta develops, it,
too, secretes progesterone. Progesterone levels continue high
throughout pregnancy, which is why many women in the third
trimester, and in spite of some physical discomfort, feel as good
as they have ever felt in their lives. Unfortunately, when her progesterone level falls sharply after the birth, the mother is vulnerable to experiencing postpartum depression.
At menopause, the drop in progesterone level is twelve
times greater than that in estrogen level (estrogen declines by 40
to 60 percent). Men have higher progesterone levels than some
post-menopausal women. Just like women after they give birth,
this drop in progesterone can create a feeling of depression for
both perimenopausal and menopausal women.
If you have hair loss and skipped periods, low progesterone
levels may be the culprit. Lack of ovulation in a skipped period can
cause the adrenal cortex to secrete the hormone androstenedione
as an alternative chemical precursor for the manufacture of
other hormones to compensate for the diminished levels of
progesterone. This steroid hormone is associated with some male
characteristics, one of which is male pattern baldness. When you
raise your progesterone level with natural progesterone cream,
your androstenedione level will gradually decline and your hair
will grow back normally. Be patient—hair growth is slow and it
may take several months before you notice a difference.
There are also a number of other beauty and health issues
that can originate from low progesterone. On a superficial level,
the consequences of low progesterone include growing whiskers
on the chin, thinning hair, breaking capillaries, gaining weight,
and emerging skin problems such as acne, aging, liver or age
spots, and dryness. More internally, it can cause yeast infections,
irritability, irregular periods, and mood fluctuations.
Back in Balance
If you're ready to get your body back in hormone harmony,
it's a great idea to test your hormone levels prior to beginning
any hormone treatment. Some health care professionals will
recommend a saliva test. If you'd prefer to test your hormone
levels outside of a doctor's office, there are quite reliable at-home
tests available. Personally, I test quarterly each year. Wherever
you receive the test, it should check for your body's levels of bioavailable
progesterone, estradiol, estriol, testosterone, DHEA,
If the results show that you are indeed experiencing low
levels of progesterone, there is a powerful natural option to turn
to. These days, more and more women are opting for natural
methods of hormone therapy.
Do note that the word natural when applied to progesterone
doesn't mean exactly what it sounds like. Here, the term natural
means that the plant progesterone molecule used to make
the cream is identical to the human progesterone molecule,
distinguishing it from the pharmaceutical progestin, whose
molecule is slightly different from human progesterone. Some
creams use extracts from soybeans (which are also used
for phytoestrogens), and others are based on the wild yam
Natural plant-based progesterone has the same identical
structure as the progesterone a woman makes naturally in her
body. The physiological dose of 20 mg per day can help improve
libido, enhance the immune system, increase hair on the scalp,
elevate the metabolic rate with resulting weight loss, act as a
natural diuretic, boost the thyroid, and stimulate the production
of bone while relaxing smooth muscles and promoting the
strength of the myelin sheath.
I prefer a formula that is derived from wild yam. Ensure
that it is preservative-free, and be selective and diligent in your
research, as some creams only contain a miniscule amount of
progesterone, or even none at all. Depending upon your age and
stage of life, there are different protocols, but in general a topical
crème should be applied to the face, hands, chest, inner arms,
and thyroid area. Rotate these as much as possible so that one
area doesn't get too saturated.
No matter your age, this unsung hero is your body's BFF for
creating a place of harmony and calm from within.