Natural Progesterone - An Introduction
What is Natural Progesterone?
Natural progesterone is a hormone normally produced by a woman’s ovaries around the middle of her menstrual cycle, or during the luteal phase. Progesterone is also made in small amounts in other parts of the body such as the adrenal glands and the nervous system.
Natural Progesterone = Bioidentical Progesterone
Natural progesterone is also called bioidentical progesterone. They are the same thing.
Dr. John Lee and Natural Progesterone
On this site you’ll find many helpful and informative bioidentical hormone articles by the late Dr. John Lee, my co-author, mentor, friend and business partner who was a pioneer in the use of natural progesterone cream.
Natural Progesterone and Estrogen Dominance
Natural progesterone has many important roles in women. In women, one of natural progesterone’s main functions is to balance the effects of estrogen, the female hormone. When estrogen is unchecked by progesterone it can cause uncontrolled cell growth, which can lead to cancer, especially of the breast, ovaries and uterus. The presence of natural progesterone assures that cell growth is well controlled. Progesterone deficiency is a risk factor for breast cancer.
When estrogen is not balanced by natural progesterone, this is known as estrogen dominance. This is a common form of hormone imbalance caused by a deficiency of natural progesterone. Estrogen dominance can lead to bloating, mood swings, irritability, weight gain and tender breasts. Estrogen and natural progesterone bring hormone harmony when they're in balance with each other. Here you can find Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance. Natural progesterone cream can help relieve the symptoms of estrogen dominance.
Some women may ovulate, but then not produce a normal amount of progesterone, and other women many not ovulate at all during their menstrual cycle, causing a progesterone deficiency. Low natural progesterone or progesterone deficiency becomes more common as women age.
Natural Progesterone is Calming
Natural progesterone is a calming hormone because it affects the GABA receptors in the brain. One of the reasons that pregnant women tend to feel so mellow during their third trimester of pregnancy is due to the relaxing effects of natural progesterone, which during that time is made by the placenta at the rate of about 300 mg per day! (An ovulating woman typically makes about 30 mg per day.)
Symptoms of Low or Deficient Natural Progesterone
Some of the symptoms of low natural progesterone or progesterone deficiency, and the resulting estrogen dominance, in pre-menopausal women can include irregular periods, bloating, cramping, irritability, insomnia, headaches, restlessness, anxiety, breast tenderness, mood swings and weight gain.
Some of the symptoms of low natural progesterone or progesterone deficiency in menopausal women can include mood swings, insomnia, headaches, restlessness, anxiety, depression, breast tenderness, weight gain, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, thyroid deficiency symptoms, foggy thinking and fatigue.
Here’s where to find Dr. John Lee’s list of Natural Progesterone and Estrogen Effects.
Natural Progesterone and Hormone Imbalance
As a woman ages, she produces less and less natural progesterone. When she reaches menopause, usually around the age of 50, she is making almost no natural progesterone, but continues to make some estrogen and some testosterone. For many women, this deficiency of natural progesterone can bring on the menopause symptoms listed above, that are the hallmarks of a menopausal hormone imbalance. On the Find Your Hormone Balance page, there are suggestions for ways to create better natural hormone balance at menopause, including symptoms, hormone level test kits and recommended reading.
Natural Hormones vs. Synthetic Hormones
It’s important to know the difference between bioidentical (natural) and synthetic hormones, which you can read in Bioidentical Hormone FAQs. This will explain the difference between synthetic progestins and natural progesterone, which is the difference between Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT). Here’s an article by Dr. John Lee about the pivotal Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study, which once and for all showed by dangerous synthetic hormones can be.
How to Use Natural Progesterone Cream
Natural progesterone cream supplementation can help many pre-menopausal and menopausal women create hormone balance and optimal health. Natural progesterone cream is the best way to supplement when your progesterone levels are low. You simply rub it on thin areas of the skin in the dose and timing recommended on the tube or jar. Here is a List of Progesterone Creams. If you prefer to create a BHRT program with a doctor or other healthcare professional, here are suggestions for Finding a Doctor Who Uses Bioidentical (Natural) Hormones. Many doctors prefer to have a compounding pharmacy make a natural progesterone cream or combination natural hormone cream for their patients.
For more information about how to use natural progesterone and estrogen to achieve hormone balance, read these articles about Natural Progesterone Cream FAQs, and Bioidentical Estrogen—How Much to Take and When. These articles will explain how to supplement with natural progesterone cream and bioidentical estrogen, and why natural progesterone and estrogen replacement therapy can make a big difference in a woman’s health and quality of life.
John R. Lee M.D.’s Recommendations for Natural Progesterone Cream
When choosing a progesterone cream, it’s important to find one that contains 400 to 500 mg of progesterone per ounce of cream, which is ideally a 1.6% progesterone cream. Standardized progesterone is listed on the progesterone cream label as USP progesterone. Most women do well using ½ teaspoon of cream, or 20 to 30 mg. Premenopasual women can use the cream for the two weeks before menstruation, and menopausal women can use it every day, with a three- to five-day break each month.
Testing Hormone Levels
When you're using hormone creams or patches it's important to use a test that measures them accurately. Conventional blood tests, which use blood from a vein, do not accurately measure hormones delivered through the skin. A saliva hormone test or a blood spot test will give you the best profile of your hormone levels. The three basic hormones to test for women and men are estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. If you suspect that stress is affecting your hormone balance it may be wise to also test cortisol levels.
Books about Natural Progesterone
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Menopause: The Breakthrough Book on Natural Progesterone by John R. Lee, M.D. and Virginia Hopkins
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about PREmenopause: Balance Your Life from Thirty to Fifty by John R. Lee, M.D. and Virginia Hopkins
Dr. John Lee’s Hormone Balance Made Simple: The Essential How-to Guide to Symptoms, Dosage, Timing and More… by John R. Lee, M.D. and Virginia Hopkins