Why Progesterone Is Just as Important as Estrogen

It’s time to bring progesterone into the conversation about women’s health. That’s according to Canadian endocrinology professor Jerilynn Prior in her paper “Women’s reproductive system as balanced estradiol and progesterone actions—a revolutionary, paradigm-shifting concept in women’s health.” In the paper, Professor Prior makes the case that historically there has been a “cultural over-emphasis on estrogen” while “progesterone tends to be ignored or associated with negative effects.”

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Ovulation Is the Main Event of the Menstrual Cycle

Anovulatory cycles and pill bleeds.A menstrual cycle is, by definition, an ovulatory cycle in which ovulation is the main event and progesterone is made.

Any other kind of bleed is either an anovulatory bleed or a pill-bleed — neither of which are real menstrual cycles. Ovulatory cycles are the only way to make progesterone which is important for general health, not just for making a baby.  

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The Right Way to Test Progesterone with Your Cycle

testing progesterone

The next time your doctor orders a progesterone test, ask yourself: “When is the right day to do this test?”

Forget “day 21 progesterone.” There’s no reason to test progesterone until you are approximately one week before your period. That will change depending on how long your cycle actually is.

Here’s what need to know about progesterone testing.

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Ode to Ovulation

woman holding egg

Ovulation is beneficial because it’s how women make hormones.

Every month, as the ovaries get ready to release an egg, they pump out estrogen. Estrogen, in turn, stimulates serotonin, which is why women can be more outgoing and energetic in the few days leading up to ovulation.

Every month, after ovulation, one of the ovaries releases a huge amount of progesterone—the calming, soothing, anti-inflammatory hormone.  

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