Blog Highlight: The use of progesterone has been linked to lower rates of uterine and colon cancers and may also be useful in treating other cancers such as ovarian, melanoma, mesothelioma, and prostate.
In the world of hormones, where thousands of these organic regulatory substances exist, there are a few power players that most providers practicing bio-identical hormone replacement therapy emphasize: testosterone, estrogen, thyroid, etc. Among these highly prioritized hormones is progesterone, and if you’ve ever experienced or even considered hormone therapy, you have almost definitely heard of it.
So what exactly is progesterone? And what makes it so important to our wellbeing?
Let’s start with a clinical definition:
“Progesterone is a steroid hormone belonging to a class of hormones called progestogens. It is secreted by the corpus luteum, a temporary endocrine gland that the female body produces after ovulation during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Progesterone [also] prepares the endometrium for the potential of pregnancy after ovulation. It triggers the lining to thicken to accept a fertilized egg. It also prohibits the muscle contractions in the uterus that would cause the body to reject an egg.” – Hormone Health Network
The word temporary may have stood out to you in that definition, and for good reason. See, as a woman ages, eventually her body’s ability to naturally produce progesterone declines, until after menopause when, for most women, production essentially comes to a halt.
The problem with having little to no progesterone production occurring is that progesterone also performs a plethora of other crucial functions within the body, and some of these functions directly affect quality of life.
Symptoms of low progesterone in women who aren’t pregnant include:
- headaches or migraines
- mood changes, including anxiety or depression
- irregularity in menstrual cycle
Additionally, without progesterone to complement it, estrogen may become the dominant hormone. This may cause symptoms including:
- weight gain
- decreased sex drive, mood swings, and depression
- PMS, irregular menstrual cycle, heavy bleeding
- breast tenderness, fibrocystic breasts
- gallbladder problems
Of course, preventing these symptoms would be enough for many to consider bio-identical hormone replacement, but I also want to point out some of the powerful benefits that come from having optimized progesterone levels! The use of natural progesterone was associated with a significantly lower risk of breast cancer compared with synthetic progestins. In addition, the use of progesterone has been linked to lower rates of uterine and colon cancers and may also be useful in treating other cancers such as ovarian, melanoma, mesothelioma, and prostate.
Progesterone may also be helpful in preventing cardiovascular disease and preventing and treating neurodegenerative conditions such a stroke and traumatic brain injury.
If you feel that you may be experiencing symptoms of low progesterone, I encourage you to reach out and work with a trusted provider to figure out if bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is right for you.