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Progesterone, primarily a female hormone, is made in the ovaries during the second half of the menstrual cycle by the corpus luteum (the follicle which released the egg), the adrenal glands, and in the placenta during pregnancy.  Progesterone is critical to a womans health by “balancing” the effects of estrogen.  With menopause the ovaries cease to produce the corpus luteum follicles, the primary source of progesterone.  And whereas post-menopausal women continue to produce estrogens from multiple sources (such as body fat), the production of progesterone essentially stops.  Without progesterone to counter balance estrogens effect, women suffer from “estrogen dominance”, a condition not of high estrogen but of unopposed estrogen.  Without progesterone to regulate or counter balance estrogen, toxicity of continued estrogen production gives rise to rising rates of breast and endometrial cancer.  In essence, estrogen without progesterone, becomes a dangerous condition for post-menopausal women. Without progesterone the woman becomes, on the cellular level, out of control.

Some experts believe that progesterone is the only female hormone that needs physiologic replacement, but this is an opinion that I do not personally share.

Benefits of Progesterone   

Progesterone helps “balance” estrogen levels and protects against endometrial (uterine) cancer as well as protecting breast tissue from cancer.  In addition progesterone:

●    Stimulates  osteoblasts,  protecting  against  osteoporosis  by  promoting  bone growth.The   effect  of progesterone  on  bone  health  may  be  of  greater significance than estrogens effect of delaying the loss of old bone.
●    Downregulates (reduces) estrogen receptor sites.
●    Protects against breast cancer.
●    Enhances a protective gene system (known as P53), which slows down another gene system (BCL2) that promotes cancer.
●    Down-regulates a gene that acts similar to cancer-promoting BCL2.
●    Prevents cells from proliferating excessively in breast and uterine tissue.
●    Enhances natural immune killer cells and interleukin-2 (a hormone that distinguishes bacteria and viruses that cause infections).
●    Increases apoptosis.  This process deters cells from mutating into harmful forms due to oxidative and chemical reactions in the body.  Estradiol slows down apoptosis.
●    Reduces the ability of breast cancer cells to metastasize.
●    Natural progesterone protects against breast cancer by decreasing ductal cell proliferation.  It can decrease ductal stimulation by 400%.
●    Increases the production of the anti-cancer estrogen known as estriol.
●    Useful for patients with estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer.
●    Decreases fluid retention; it is a natural diuretic.
●    Normalizes blood clotting.
●    Helps maintain normal blood sugar levels.
●    Assists  in  lowering  LDL  cholesterol  levels. Micronized  progesterone  and estrogen lead to the greatest improvement in raising HDL and lowering LDL.
●    Improves libido.
●    Has a sedative effect on the central nervous system.
●    Protects brain cells.
●    Increases the sense of well-being.
●    Stabilizes mood.
●    Anti-estrogenic.
●    Suppresses cellular nuclear estradiol receptors.
●    Suppresses conversion of testosterone to DHT.
●    Is a precursor for cortisol production in the adrenal glands.
●    Blocks binding of Aldosterone to renal receptors, can lower circulating testosterone.
●    Supports the thymus gland.
●    Natural progesterone, but not Provera, enhances the beneficial effect of estrogen on exercise-induced myocardial ischemia in postmenopausal women.

Causes of Low Progesterone:
●    Aging.
●    Impaired production.
●    Low LH.
●    Increased prolactin production.
●    Stress.
●    Antidepressants.
●    Excessive arginine consumption.
●    Sugar.
●    Saturated fat.
●    Deficiency of vitamins A, B6, C, Zinc.
●    Decreased thyroid hormone.
Natural Progesterone:

●    Is a precursor to estrogen and testosterone.
●    Helps balance estrogen.
●    Increases the breakdown of fat.
●    Lowers blood pressure.
●    Reduces arterial spasms.
●    Is anti-proliferative and may protect against some forms of cancer, such as breast cancer
●    Protects  against  endometrial  hyperplasia  as  well  as  medroxyprogesterone acetate (e.g. Provera).
●    Reduces breast density.
●    Maintains endometrium of the uterus and protects against endometrial cancer.
●    Is a natural diuretic.
●    Natural calming effects and is a natural anti-depressant.
●    Improves mood.
●    Restores libido.
●    Inhibits cholesterol buildup.
●    Increases “good” HDL cholesterol.
●    Lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol..
●    Reduces foam cell formation.
●    Prevents  osteoporosis  by  stimulating  osteoblasts  to  form  new  bone  and  by interfering with glucocorticoids, which cause bone loss.
●    Leaves the body quickly.
●    Improves sleep.
●    Increases scalp hair.
●    Helps balance fluids in the cells.
●    Increases the beneficial effects of estrogen on BV.
●    Increases metabolic rate.

Synthetic Progestins (Provera® or Medroxyprogesterone Acetate)

●    Is a teratogen
●    Increase the risk of birth defects, such as heart and limb defects, if taken during the first four months of pregnancy.
●    May increase blood pressure.
●    May  lead  to  sudden  or  partial  loss  of  vision,  thrombophlebitis,  pulmonary embolism and cerebral thrombosis.
●    Increase the risk for coronary artery spasms.
●    Worse cardiac outcomes with estrogen than progesterone and estrogen.
●    May cause fluid retention.
●    May cause or contribute to depression.
●    May cause acne, alopecia and hirsutism.
●    Decreases T3 thyroid uptake and thyroid regulation.
●    When  taken  with  estrogens,  symptoms  may  be  worse:  Increases  estrogen dominance.
●    Stimulates estrogen receptor sites.
●    Have negative effects on lipids (negates estrogens lipid lowering properties).
●    Lowers HDL.
●    Raises LDL.
●    Increases foam cell formation.
●    Increases endothelial dysfunction.
●    Increases breast density.

Provera is an FDA-approved synthetic progestin.  Progestins are not the same as natural progesterone.  Synthetic progestins may produce unwanted side effects such as fluid retention, weight gain, depression and breast tenderness.  Progestins tend to cancel the protective effect of estradiol, and promote constriction of the coronary arteries to a significant degree.  Natural progesterone, on the other hand, protects the endometrium, preserves the beneficial effects of estrogen on the cardiovascular system and has no negative effects on the blood vessels that supply your heart.  Provera has many known potential dangers such as possible birth defects, damage to nerve cells, blood clots, acne, rashes, and breast cancer. Synthetic progestins also tend to make you nervous and can adversely affect your ability to sleep.

Progestins are unnatural drugs that have more side effects than natural hormones. Hormone supplementation with the natural, bioidentical form of the hormone will always have fewer side effects than the patentable analogs. Natural micronized progesterone is made from plant sources; more specifically the wild yam. The molecule is altered to make it bio-identical to human progesterone.  Replacement therapy is dosed based upon a womans serum progesterone level and her symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Low Progesterone
●    Acne
●    Amenorrhea - no periods.
●    Oligomenorrhea - the periods come infrequently.
●    Heavy and frequent period.
●    Spotting a few days before the period.
●    Anxiety.
●    Arthritis.
●    Breakthrough bleeding.
●    Breast tenderness.
●    Cramps.
●    Decreased libido.
●    Depression.
●    Endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis.
●    Fibrocystic breasts.
●    Food cravings.
●    Harder to reach climax.
●    Headaches.
●    Hot flashes.
●    Insomnia; sleep disturbances.
●    Mood swings.
●    PMS.
●    Water retention; bloating.
●    Weight gain.

Prolonged use of Progesterone without adequate Estrogen:

●    Increases weight.
●    Increases total cholesterol.
●    Decreases HDL.
●    Increases LDL.
●    Increases triglycerides.
●    Causes depression.
●    Causes fatigue.
●    Decreases libido.
●    Increases insulin resistance.