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Progesterone

The Balancing Act…

Progesterone is one of the main reproductive hormones responsible for the menstrual cycle and facilitating pregnancy. Progesterone serves as a precursor not only to testosterone and estrogen, but also to cortisol, the stress hormone. Progesterone plays an important role in using fat for energy, facilitating thyroid hormone action, and helping to restore sex drive. It is also a natural antidepressant, aids in normalizing blood clotting, helps to initiate sleep and is a natural diuretic.

How Does This Affect Me?

As ovarian function declines during peri-menopause and menopause, progesterone production rapidly decreases.  Progesterone is used in replacement therapy in women who are symptomatic of low progesterone levels. Progesterone therapy is commonly prescribed to counteract ‘estrogen dominance’, which is believed to be the leading cause of breast cancer in women. In addition, progesterone therapy is prescribed to relieve symptoms such as irregular or heavy periods, severe PMS with mood swings, and sleep disturbances.

Symptoms of low progesterone:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Pain and inflammation
  • Osteoporosis
  • Decreased HDL
  • Excessive menstruation
  • Breast tenderness

Affects of excess progesterone:

  • Increase fat storage
  • Decrease glucose tolerance (may predispose you to diabetes)
  • Increase cortisol
  • Increase appetite
  • Increase carbohydrate cravings
  • Relaxes the smooth muscles of the gut (this can cause bloating, fullness, and constipation)
  • Causes incontinence (leaky bladder)
  • Causes your ligaments to relax and can cause backaches, leg aches, and achy hips