Progesterone, often called the “life giving hormone” is a hormone that plays a crucial role in women’s health. It is produced by the ovaries and helps regulate the menstrual cycle, prepares the uterus for pregnancy, and supports fetal development during pregnancy. It affects everything from menstrual cycles to pregnancy, menopause, and more. But did you know that progesterone can also have significant effects on your mood, bone health, and other aspects of your health? Today, I am shedding insights into one of the most powerful chemical messengers in our body.
Before we dive into the benefits of progesterone, it’s important to understand what this hormone is and how it works. Progesterone is a hormone that is produced in the ovaries after ovulation. It helps prepare the uterus for pregnancy and regulates the menstrual cycle. During pregnancy, progesterone levels rise significantly to support the growing fetus.
In addition to its reproductive functions, progesterone also has a range of other effects on the body. It helps regulate the immune system, promotes bone health, and can even have a positive impact on brain function. Let’s take a closer look at some of these benefits.
The Role of Progesterone in Menstrual Cycles
Progesterone is a crucial hormone in the menstrual cycle. It is responsible for preparing the uterus for pregnancy by thickening the lining of the uterus (endometrium). If fertilization of an egg occurs, progesterone levels increase to support early pregnancy. If fertilization does not occur, progesterone levels decrease, leading to the shedding of the endometrium, which is menstruation. Progesterone is necessary for the normal menstrual cycle, and low levels of progesterone can lead to irregular or heavy periods.
When progesterone levels are low during the menstrual cycle, women may experience symptoms such as irregular periods, heavy bleeding, and cramping. Progesterone can be prescribed in the form of oral pills or creams to help regulate menstrual cycles and alleviate these symptoms. NOTE- be sure you are NOT taking synthetic progestins.
The Role of Progesterone in Pregnancy
Progesterone is essential for fertility. It helps regulate ovulation and prepares the uterus for implantation. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, “Progesterone prepares the endometrium for implantation, and helps maintain the pregnancy in its early stages.”. Progesterone also helps prevent premature labor by relaxing the muscles in the uterus. Low levels of progesterone during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth. In some cases, progesterone supplementation may be prescribed to help maintain pregnancy in women who have a history of miscarriage or preterm labor. Unfortunately, I know too many women, professionally and personally, who have NOT been treated with care, not given progesterone when needed, and have lost their babies! In my opinion, this is neglectful care on the part of their providers!
The Role of Progesterone in Menopause
As women approach menopause, their ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone (P), which can lead to a range of symptoms. Now, let me get a little technical here. While estrogen (E) may drop 35% – 60% during perimenopause, Progesterone seems to plummet which will create an imbalance in the ratio of progesterone to estrogen. It is imbalance that causes so many of the symptoms. Progesterone (P) deficiency can also be referred to as “Estrogen Dominance (ED)” because of this imbalance in the ratio of P:E. I will to into a lot more details on this in coming weeks. For now, let’s focus on the impact of progesterone real, natural or bio-identical progesterone, NOT synthetic progestins.
While you have heard that Estrogen may release vaginal dryness and hot flashes, a study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada found that “progesterone supplementation may alleviate vasomotor symptoms (ie. Hot flashes) and improve quality of life in menopausal women.” (Italics added)
The Impact of Progesterone on Mood
Progesterone has been shown to have a significant impact on mood in women. During the menstrual cycle, progesterone levels can affect mood, with some women experiencing symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, and depression during the luteal phase of the cycle, which occurs after ovulation.
Progesterone has a calming effect on the body and can help reduce anxiety and depression. According to Dr. Jerilynn Prior, a professor of endocrinology at the University of British Columbia, “Progesterone has anxiolytic and antidepressant effects, and can help reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).” Some studies have found that women who receive progesterone supplementation during pregnancy also may have a lower risk of developing postpartum depression.
I have recommended Progesterone cream for numerous clients and seen amazing results. Let me share one story that was profound & almost immediate.
Jane (not her real name) was in her early 30’s. She was a busy single professional, who unfortunately was very overweight. She was having severe bouts of depression, bawling and could not get off the couch. Needless to say, this was impacting every area of her life!! I recommended she start using Progesterone cream. In TWO days, she called me back and stated she felt like a new woman!! Her mood had shifted that quickly due to the amazing antidepressant effects of progesterone.
Other Health Effects of Progesterone
Now, let’s look at some of the dynamic effects of Progesterone throughout the body:
With all of these benefits, it seems clear that we want to keep our levels just right. But, how do we know if we are experiencing low progesterone? Here’s a simple list to reference.
Signs of Low Progesterone
If you have low levels of progesterone, you may experience a range of symptoms, including:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s essential to speak with your healthcare provider about testing your progesterone levels to determine the cause of your symptoms. As I have shared in many posts, I feel the DUTCH test is the most comprehensive of all tests on the market. This test will not only give your hormones levels, but also, very importantly, how your hormones are metabolizing! For more info go to DUTCHtest.com and use my code LDF100 for a discount on the test.
Increasing Progesterone Levels
If you have low levels of progesterone, supplementation may be needed. However, here are some ways to increase your progesterone levels naturally before you start supplementation:
Progesterone is a vital “life giving” hormone for women’s health, with a range of effects all over the body. It plays a crucial role in menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause, and can also have significant effects on mood, bone health, and other aspects of health. To optimize your health, your mood and your weight, and vitality, keep your progesterone: estrogen (P:E) ratio well balanced.