What is Progesterone?
Progesterone is a steroid hormone made by the corpus luteum of the ovary at ovulation, and in smaller amounts by the adrenal glands. Progesterone is manufactured in the body from the steroid hormone pregnenolone, and is a precursor to most of the other steroid hormones, including cortisol, androstenedione, the estrogens and testosterone. In a normally cycling female, the corpus luteum produces 20 to 30mg of progesterone daily during the luteal phase (the second half) of the menstrual cycle.
What is Progesterone used for?
Progesterone is needed in hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women for many reasons, but one of its most important roles is to balance or oppose the effects of estrogen. Unopposed estrogen, in addition to causing symptoms such as irritability, poor focus and hot flashes, creates a strong risk for breast cancer and reproductive cancers.
Estrogen levels drop only 40-60% at menopause, which is just enough to stop the menstrual cycle. Nevertheless, progesterone levels may drop to near zero in some women. Because progesterone is the precursor to so many other steroid hormones, its use can greatly enhance overall hormone balance after menopause. Progesterone also stimulates bone building and thus helps protect against osteoporosis.
The ten to fifteen years before menopause, many women regularly have anovulatory cycles in which they make enough estrogen to create menstruation, but they don’t make any progesterone, thus setting the stage for estrogen dominance. Using progesterone cream during anovulatory months can help prevent the symptoms of PMS.
We now know that PMS can occur despite normal progesterone levels when stress is present. Stress increases cortisol production; cortisol blockades (or competes for) progesterone receptors. Additional progesterone is required to overcome this blockade, and stress management is important.
Where does the Progesterone used in compouding come from?
The USP progesterone used for hormone replacement is made from from plant fats and oils, usually a substance called diosgenin, which is extracted from a very specific type of wild yam that grows in Mexico (these are NOT sweet potatoes), or from soybeans. In the laboratory, diosgenin is chemically synthesized into real human progesterone. The other human steroid hormones, including estrogen, testosterone, progesterone and the cortisones are also nearly always synthesized from diosgenin.
Some companies are trying to sell diosgenin, which they label “wild yam extract” as a medicine or supplement, claiming that the body will then convert it into hormones as needed. While we know this can be done in the laboratory, there is no evidence that this conversion takes place in the human body.
Do guys ever use Progesterone?
Progesterone is also vital to men’s health and well being. Increasing energy levels and improving libido are just a few of the areas progesterone supplementation has been shown to help.
Read more about Using Progesterone to Counteract Estrogen Dominance In Men.
Also, Progesterone is essential in providing a DRUG-FREE approach to frequent urination!