Progesterone

Pro: Latin : as in anticipation of an occurrence
Gestationem: Latin: the condition of being carried in the womb

Progesterone and Oestrogen are principally made in the ovaries of menstruating women, smaller amounts are made in the adrenal glands of both sexes and in the testes for males. Progesterone is dominant during pregnancy and otherwise regulates the menstrual cycle. It also acts as a calming hormone and helps to mediate inflammation.

Progesterone is manufactured by the corpus luteum, the 'yellow body' or empty egg follicle, after ovulation and tapering off just before the period if pregnancy does not occur. Its main job is to prepare the uterus for a fertilized egg while closing the cervix. One of Progesterone's roles is to prepare the uterus for a fertilized egg while closing the cervix. Progesterone production can reach 40mg daily in the second half of a regular menstrual cycle, skyrocketing to over 500mg daily in the last trimester of pregnancy.

The pivotal position of Progesterone in the hormone corticoid cascade is clear. It is the "Grandmother" of all hormones, leading in one direction to the corticosteroids and the other to the sex hormones, Testosterone and Oestrogens (E1, E2, E3).

There is overwhelming evidence that in our present environment, where most of us are subjected to a constant daily barrage of Phyto and Xeno-Oestrogens, many women by definition are exclusively Oestrogen dominant. It is this increasing imbalance between Oestrogens and Progesterone in menstruating women and the total lack of Progesterone in menopausal women; to balance the world we live in, which leads to the myriad of symptoms commonly suffered.

A list of the principal functions of Progesterone include:

      • Precursor to other hormones
      • Maintains a secretory endometrium
      • Is a natural diuretic
      • Helps use fat for energy
      • Natural anti-depressant
      • Protects against fibrocystic breast disease
      • Help thyroid hormone action
      • Normalises blood clotting
      • Restores libido
      • Restores cell oxygen levels
      • Helps normalise blood sugar levels
      • May protect against endometrial and breast cancers
      • Stimulated osteoblast mediated bone formation
      • Necessary for the survival of the embryo and foetus throughout gestation.

A list of conditions caused by Progesterone deficiency include:

      • Infertility/Frequent and recurrent miscarriage
      • Endometriosis
      • Polycystic ovarian syndrome(PCOS)/Ovarian cyst
      • Uterine fibroids
      • Premenstrual migraines
      • Breast, uterine and ovarian cancers
      • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
      • Post natal depression (PND)
      • Depression

Symptoms of Progesterone deficiency include:

      • Obesity
      • Mood swings
      • Loss of confidence
      • Heavy, irregular, prolonged bleeding
      • Sweet cravings
      • Fat deposition on hips and thighs
      • Premenstrual breast tenderness
      • Hotflushes
      • Abdominal bloating
      • Fluid retention
      • Loss of libido
      • Acid stomach
      • Anxiety
      • Formication (crawling skin sensation)
      • Darkening under the eyes
      • Foggy thinking
      • Poor short term memory and concentration
      • Heavy menstrual bloodloss

Wild Yam is not Progesterone.
Wild yam contains a substance called "Diosgenin", which is a phyto-progesterone with mild progesterone-like effects. Studies have shown human-beings cannot change Diosgenin into Progesterone. It is necessary for Diosgenin to be changed in the laboratory into Progesterone which is natural to humans but not yams!

Many Physicians mistakenly believe that a Progestin (Synthetic drugs such as Provera) is the same as Progesterone and thus believe that Progesterone shares the same adverse side effects when in fact Progesterone has no known side effects. Below is a diagram of Progesterone and Provera, they started from the same molecule but subtle variations in a molecule cause changes in the original molecular functions, producing very different effects.

Natural Progesterone differs significantly in its action from its synthetic counterpart.

Molecules work like a key and lock combination. The right key (hormonal molecule) fits the right lock (Hormonal receptor) exactly and effects the appropriate action. With the synthetic Progestins while they fit the lock and occupy the receptors they cannot open the door to correct hormonal functioning and we experience the above adverse side effects. 

Natural Progesterone verses Progestins (eg Provera)
Natural Progesterone Progestins
Reduces water retention
Balances sodium content
Causes water retention(bloating)
Increases sodium content
Aids in conception and helps maintain a healthy pregnancy Inhibits ovulation (birth control and birth defects)
IS the real Progesterone Lowers blood progesterone levels
Is a euphoric (happy hormone) May cause depression
May cause breast tenderness usually for a short time May cause breast tenderness, insomnia, nausea, skin rashes
Increases libido Inhibits libido
No adverse effects on cholesterol Adverse effects on blood cholesterol
Helps protect against breast and endometrial cancers May increase risks of cancer
Normalizes Zinc and copper levels Cardiac and renal dysfunction
Stimulates bone building Thrombophlebitis (Blood clots)
Normalizes blood sugars May cause Asthma, Epilepsy
Restores proper cell oxygen levels Sudden or partial loss of vision
Relieves premenstrual migraines May cause migraines
Uses fat for energy Causes weight gain


References:
Ahlgrimm, Marian & Kells, John L: (2003) The HRT solution (3rd Ed). New York, NY. Avery.
Cabot Sandra (2004) Don’t let your hormones ruin your life. Australia, WHAS Pty Ltd.
Lee John (1999) What your Doctor may not tell you about Menopause/Peri-menopause
Northrup Christiane. (2010) Women’s bodies, women’s wisdom. New York, NY. Bantam Books
Reiss Uzzi. (2002) Natural hormone balance (6th Ed) New York, NY. Altria Books