Progesterone is both a naturally-occurring and a synthesized hormone.
At Annex Naturopathic, we use progesterone as one of several naturopathic hormonal health solutions.
As advocates for women’s health, we always ensure we are educating women about their reproductive health and the choices available to them.
Let’s talk about progesterone – what is it, what does it do, and how does it affect you?
Keep reading to find out.
What Is Progesterone?
Progesterone is a steroid hormone, secreted by the corpus luteum, part of your reproductive system.
When a person ovulates, and before they get their next period, they produce this temporary gland so it can do its work.
When progesterone is synthesized, it is called progestin.
Progestin is often combined with estrogen when developed into treatments.
Let’s take a closer look.
What Does Progesterone Do?
Your body produces progesterone in order to be ready for pregnancy.
Ovulation triggers a series of events that starts with your endometrial lining thickening.
Progesterone can also prevent uterine muscle contractions, which could cause an implanted egg to be lost.
If there is no pregnancy, the corpus luteum will break down, lowering your levels of progesterone.
This leads to menstruation, and the cycle restarts.
If there is conception, however, progesterone keeps working away to make sure the fetus stays happy.
It helps in the creation of blood vessels so your fetus gets the nutrition it needs.
Progesterone helps the uterus prepare to accept the fertilized egg.
It also helps prepare a woman’s breasts for milk production after birth.
What Is Progestin?
Progestins are a synthetic form of progesterone, designed to have similar effects.
The problem with progesterone in pill form is that it’s poorly absorbed – progestins solve this problem.
Now doctors can prescribe a simple progestin pill for many different ailments.
In pill form, it can be used to treat menopausal symptoms, with or without estrogen.
Progestin is also used to treat irregular periods, amenorrhea, and even endometriosis.
Symptoms Of Low Progesterone
You may have low progesterone levels if:
- you’re experiencing abnormal menstrual cycles
- you have abnormal uterine bleeding
- you have struggled to become pregnant
- you have had abdominal pain and spotting during a pregnancy
Because this hormone helps maintain a pregnancy, people with low progesterone are at a higher risk of miscarriage or premature delivery.
Low progesterone can also trigger high estrogen levels.
Having high estrogen levels decreases sex drive, aggravates weight gain, and can cause issues with the gallbladder.
What Is Progesterone Therapy Used For?
Progesterone therapy has been approved for several medical uses, and comes in several different forms.
It comes in a cream you can apply either externally or vaginally, as well as in pills, or even injected.
Let’s look at some of the most common uses.
1. To Reduce The Symptoms Of Menopause
For those who have reached menopause, and who have not had a hysterectomy, progesterone can be used as a hormone replacement therapy.
Sometimes referred to as HRT, hormone replacement therapy will usually include estrogen when treating symptoms of menopause.
The good news is that progesterone can offset this – as estrogen causes ‘abnormal’ thickening of the uterine lining, progesterone prevents this exact side effect.
2. To Encourage Menstruation
It’s not uncommon for people to be struck with menstrual issues at least once in their lives.
Some have periods of heavy or non-stop bleeding; others may have very irregular or no periods at all.
We’re not talking about menopause – when it’s natural for your period to have ceased – but during pre-menopausal times, when you’re still technically of ‘childbearing’ years.
In such cases, healthcare professionals may prescribe progestin to replace the natural version of the hormone that they are missing or not producing enough of.
3. To Reduce Risk Of Uterine Cancer In Estrogen Therapy
A significant amount of research has been done to study how progesterone mitigates the unhealthy growth caused by estrogen hormone replacement therapy.
Estrogen causes abnormal thickening of the endometrium, and this ‘unchecked’ growth might lead to endometrial hyperplasia and adenocarcinoma developing.
Progesterone is able to be that ‘check’ on the estrogen’s side-effects, and has been used by doctors as a reliable way to reduce the chances of developing uterine cancer.
4. To Relieve Withdrawal Symptoms From Benzodiazepines
There is some evidence that patients who are discontinuing – coming off of – benzodiazepine drugs may be helped by treatment of progesterone.
Benzodiazepines are highly-addictive drugs, and the withdrawal symptoms can be challenging.
With opioids being abused on a too-frequent basis, there is a lot of work being done to explore ways to help in the withdrawal – not all of which have been successful.
More studies will be needed to confirm, however.
5. For Transgender Women Hoping To Transition
Hormone therapy for transgender women is available to help reduce gender dysphoria – the emotional distress that frequently comes along with being transgender.
Hormones are administered to help transgender women develop what’s called ‘secondary sex characteristics’ that help them feel their body is more congruent with their actual gender identity.
The primary hormone used for this purpose is estrogen, according to WPATH – the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
While WPATH doesn’t recommend the use of progesterone, they don’t condemn it either – as a result, many clinicians and trans people themselves recommend using progesterone.
Progesterone helps to achieve more feminine physical features. These include:
- Breast development
- Fat redistribution
- Muscle redistribution
- Halting (but not reversing) male pattern baldness
- Softer skin
- Reduction in body hair
Book An Appointment At Annex Naturopathic
If you’ve been suffering with some of the conditions listed above, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Don’t feel the need to ‘suck it up’ when there are treatments out there that can help.
Call now and book a consultation, and we can go through the symptoms you’re experiencing.
A custom plan will address your reproductive-related concerns, and you’ll be in excellent hands the whole journey.
Book your appointment with Annex Naturopathic today.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND