Hormones: What is Progesterone?
In my practice I find that most women are Estrogen Dominant, that is to say that the ratio between Estrogen and Progesterone is favoring Estrogen, there by contributing to symptoms like PMS, breast tenderness, cystic breast, fibroid uterus, and endometriosis just to name a few.
The goal is to identify the underlying causes for the imbalance, and correct them using a holistic approach and supplementation, when indicated.
Natural progesterone is a vital hormone in the female body.
- Natural progesterone does exist in small quantities in men where it balances the small amounts of Estrogen.
- Natural progesterone is produced mainly by the ovaries and by the adrenal glands.
- Progesterone serves as a precursor not only to DHEA, testosterone and estrogen, but also to cortisol, the stress hormone. This makes it instrumental in many core biologic functions. Unlike non-bioidentical hormones, bioidentical progesterone has the same structure as progesterone your own body would produce. Therefore, it is able to fit on all of the progesterone receptors and create the other hormones along the hormone pathway.
What does Progesterone do?
Progesterone and estrogen are the main reproductive hormones responsible for the menstrual cycle. Estrogen is dominant in the first two weeks of the average 28-day menstrual cycle and then declines.
At this point, natural progesterone increases in production just before ovulation and picks up after ovulation for the remaining two weeks in the cycle. In this capacity, progesterone works to facilitate pregnancy by creating conditions that are optimal for the development of an embryo and fetus. Furthermore, progesterone plays an important role in using fat for energy, facilitating thyroid hormone action, and helping to restore one’s sex drive. It is also a natural antidepressant, aids in normalizing blood clotting, helps to initiate sleep and is a natural diuretic along with many other vital functions.
Menopause and Progesterone
Progesterone and estrogen balance each other out in the female body. Progesterone is necessary to negate the effects of estrogen and vice versa. This means that a lack of natural progesterone or an excess of it wreaks havoc on the body. Menopause and stress causes this imbalance leading to the unpleasant symptoms and reduced quality of life.
In menopause, several hormones are thrown off balance. Often in perimenopause, there is too little natural progesterone in a woman’s body; it can result in symptoms such as anxiety, breast tenderness, headaches, sleeplessness, weight gain (caused by improper levels of progesterone which prevent your thyroid from functioning properly) and more.
One cause of progesterone imbalance is estrogen dominance by outside factors such as environmental hormones (i.e., xenoestrogen) found in the foods you eat. Other causes of diminished progesterone include insulin resistance, chronic stress, poor nutrition, and insufficient exercise.
Chronic stress is also a big contributor to progesterone levels. When your body is stressed, it works to produce higher levels of the hormone cortisol which manages stress in your body. Because progesterone is the precursor to cortisol, when cortisol levels increase, progesterone levels decrease. So, too much stress in a woman’s life can lead to a progesterone deficiency, causing the estrogen dominance symptoms mentioned above.
In order to identify the problem a saliva test will be conducted, this will show us the levels of Estrogen Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEA and Cortisol all of which have an important roll in maintaining good health and they all interact with each other.
For more information, you can call Dr. Dekel’s office at 516-208-6617.
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