Progesterone in Women

Progesterone is a gonadal steroid, produced in the ovaries and adrenals. Sharing a similar chemical structure with estrogen, the hormone functions as a precursor for androgens and glucocorticoids. Progesterone delivers diverse benefits for women:

  • Uses fat for energy and normalizes blood sugar, influencing insulin/glucose metabolism.
  • Restores libido and cell oxygen levels.
  • Aids thyroid hormone activity.
  • Functions as a natural diuretic.
  • Normalizes zinc/copper levels.
  • Stimulates osteoblasts for bone strength.
  • Binds with gamma-aminobutric acid (GABA) brain receptors, when metabolized. GABA, an amino acid acting as a neurotransmitter, produces a tranquil effect and generates feelings of well-being. Lower progesterone levels can augment anxiety and irritability.
  • Determines whether an abundance or scarcity of other hormones exists. As a regulator, it cascades into estrogen, testosterone, DHEA and Cortisol. Reduced progesterone levels can result in more intense PMS or menopausal discomforts.
  • Augments the sensitivity of estrogen receptors, stabilizes estrogen-sensitive tissues and competes with Cortisol at nuclear receptor levels.
  • Aids myelin sheath formation (the insulating envelope around nerve fibers). This facilitates nerve impulses. Research shows its role in the sense of touch, motor function and nervous system maintenance.
  • Regulates changes during menses and proves vital for maintaining pregnancy, protecting the uterus lining. Along with preparing the uterus for fertilized egg implantation, progesterone alerts the uterus to shed its lining when pregnancy doesn’t occur. It aids fetal membrane and mammary gland development.

Low Progesterone

In menopause, multiple hormones become imbalanced. Often in perimenopause, there is too little natural progesterone in a woman’s body. Resultant symptoms include: weight gain, poor sleep, headaches, anxiety and irritability, breast tenderness, and depressed mood.

A major cause of a progesterone imbalance is due to xenoestrogens (environmental hormones found in the foods you eat). These estrogens lead to estrogen dominance, and cause a progesterone imbalance. Diminished progesterone levels can also be caused by insufficient exercise, insulin resistance, and  poor nutrition.

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. Excessive stress in a woman’s life can lead ultimately lead to a progesterone deficiency, causing the estrogen dominance symptoms mentioned above.

High Progesterone

Excessive amounts of natural progesterone are also an issue, causing low sex drive, vaginal dryness, fatigue, and a depressed mood.

 

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