Why Progesterone is Beneficial to Women
Progesterone is the hormone in your body that acts as a balance to estrogen. It is responsible for maintaining a healthy pregnancy, but also prepares your body for pregnancy and causes eggs to be released from the ovaries.
It is produced mainly from a structure in the ovaries and is very important during reproductive and menstrual cycles because it is produced mostly in preparation of pregnancy or during it. Since it acts as a balance to estrogen, progesterone levels can naturally rise during menopause while estrogen levels lower.
Having too little progesterone can result from excessive amounts of estrogen or other factors, such as stress. High stress causes your body to produce more cortisol to manage it, but this means that less progesterone is produced as a result. Dietary issues and lack of exercise can also result in lowered levels of progesterone. Some symptoms of lessened progesterone include:
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
Many of these symptoms are also associated with having excessive amounts of estrogen, because progesterone acts as a balance against it, so as one lowers, the other rises.
Having too much progesterone, alone, has little effect on your body. However, because progesterone acts as a balance for estrogen, an excess of progesterone will usually mean a deficiency in estrogen. This can have a number of side effects, including:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Memory loss
- Hot flashes and night sweats
Hormone replacement therapy can be used to fix the balance between progesterone and estrogen. These options include creams and gels, pills, and intramuscular injections.
Treating Progesterone Imbalances
The first step to treating a progesterone imbalance is by getting on a nutritious diet and managing your stress more effectively. It is also possible to be allergic to progesterone treatments, so always consult a physician before using supplements. Liver disease can also cause complications with these supplements, as well as blood clots in the legs, lungs or eyes. Trying to address the imbalance through diets and stress management is the best idea if you have any of these conditions.
Before doing anything to directly influence your hormone levels, though, it’s best to make sure that a deficiency or excess is actually the case. This should be the first step in any hormone replacement therapy, and more work can be done once hormone levels have been measured to directly change them in desired ways. Progesterone imbalances can usually be resolved through creams or pills if the levels are low, where higher levels may require a different approach, such as bioidentical estrogen replacement. Injections are another option for progesterone imbalances.