Progesterone is a startlingly beneficial hormone, and almost all of us could do with more than we have.
Progesterone acts on your breasts and uterus, so it’s essential for healthy reproduction and periods. It also acts on your brain, immune system, and detoxification enzymes. Progesterone does a lot more for you than just fertility and easy periods. It soothes, nourishes, energizes, strengthens, and rescues your body in ways you never imagined.
Benefits of progesterone
- Boosts energy by stimulating the thyroid and heating up metabolism. That’s why your body temperature goes up half a degree when you make progesterone after ovulation. It also stabilizes communication between the hypothalamus and adrenal glands, and so can relieve symptoms of HPA dysregulation.
- Soothes mood and rescues sleep thanks to its metabolite allopregnanolone (ALLO). ALLO is a neurosteroid that interacts directly with GABA receptors in the brain and promotes sleep. Progesterone also up-regulates the DAO enzyme, and so relieves the anxiety symptoms of histamine intolerance. Finally, progesterone stimulates sleep centres in the brain and can relieve premenstrual and perimenopausal insomnia.
- Nourishes hair and clears skin because it reduces male hormones (androgens) by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. The result is faster-growing hair, less skin oil (sebum), and fewer skin break-outs.
- Lightens periods by thinning the uterine lining.
- Reduces the risk of autoimmune disease by modulating immune function and reducing inflammation.
- Builds bones and muscle by stimulating osteoblasts (bone-building cells) and the growth of new muscle.
- Reduces the risk of cancer by counteracting estrogen’s stimulating effect on breast and uterine tissue. It may even have a future role as a treatment for breast cancer.
Conditions associated with progesterone deficiency:
Physical signs of progesterone deficiency:
How to get more progesterone
There are two ways to obtain progesterone:
- Make more yourself by ovulating regularly, which means correcting underlying issues such as inflammation, insulin resistance, and thyroid (to name just a few). For more information about how to ovulate, see my book Period Repair Manual and my blog post: Road map to progesterone.
- Take body-identical or natural progesterone, which is available as either a transdermal cream or a capsule. Progesterone cream is adequate for general symptoms, but capsules are better for perimenopausal sleep problems (oral has greater conversion to allopregnanolone).
Tip: There’s NO progesterone in any type of hormonal birth control. In fact, the biggest problem with hormonal birth control is that it causes progesterone deficiency. Read The crucial difference between progesterone and progestins.
Read Professor Jerilynn Prior’s series of articles: Preventive powers of ovulation and progesterone.