Progesterone is critical to good health. Just consider for a moment that it is the oldest hormone on the planet—vital for all vertebrates (that includes fish, reptiles, birds and mammals), including, of course, human beings!
While typically used as a supplement to treat menstrual or fertility problems in women, natural progesterone—in the form of progesterone cream or injections – is becoming more and more common for the treatment of a wide range of health issues in both men and women.
But does progesterone work? We’ll get into the particulars, but first let’s review some basics.
What is Progesterone?
Progesterone is a steroid hormone that is primarily secreted in the ovaries in women and the testes in men. However, it is also secreted in other parts of the body, including in the brain and adrenal glands. Essentially, the body uses cholesterol to make pregnenolone, and then converts pregnenolone into progesterone.
But the process doesn’t stop there, because progesterone is a precursor to other hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, among others. In other words, progesterone is itself a building block to essential hormones in the human body.
In fact, progesterone plays a part in a great many functions within the our bodies. It helps regulate blood sugar, build bones and maintain healthy brain activity. Of course, it is most well-known for its role in the female reproductive cycle.
Progesterone is the hormone that stimulates the uterus to prepare the way for a baby during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. It is critical for building up the walls to support a fertilized egg to grow into a child. If the egg is not fertilized, progesterone levels drop again, signaling menstruation to begin.
If the egg is fertilized, and pregnancy takes place, progesterone levels will continue to increase, as it has several important roles in the baby-growing process. For example, progesterone stimulates the growth of blood vessels to supply the womb with food for the fetus and it strengthens the uterus to prepare for labor.
To sum it up in a nutshell, progesterone is a hormone and is the essential building block for making other hormones—and is critical to both males and females (although it is most well-known for its role in the female reproductive organs).
OK then—but what’s natural progesterone?
Glad you asked.
What’s Natural Progesterone?
Natural progesterone is a way of describing progesterone when taken as a supplement and further serves to differentiate it from progestin.
Progestin is a synthetic, lab-developed alternative to progesterone. While chemically quite similar, it can also cause a number of health problems. It can be much stronger than natural progesterone and has been linked to cardiovascular issues as well as cancer (when combined with estrogen supplements).
Progesterone is safer (and can even help with cardiovascular issues!). When taking progesterone, it is better to take a natural progesterone, such as natural progesterone cream like Progest Zen.
Why Take Progesterone?
People take progesterone to treat a wide range of symptoms including:
- Menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes
- Menstrual cycle issues, such as PMS, heavy bleeding, heavy cramping, irregular periods, dysmenorrhea and more
- Fertility issues
- Anxiety and stress
- Sleep issues
- Lack of libido
- Traumatic brain injury
- Prevent loss of bone density
As you can see, there are lots of reasons why a person might take progesterone—and this list is by no means exhaustive.
Does Progesterone Work When Taken As a Supplement?
There is ample anecdotal evidence that progesterone works to relieve all of the symptoms listed above and more. For example, many women report relief from severe PMS and heavy menstrual cycles. Others report relief from menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and insomnia.
In addition to using a cream or other supplement, you can also eat a diet that supports natural progesterone production within your body. Some foods that can help increase progesterone include cabbage, kale, beans, and spinach.
The Best Natural Progesterone Cream
While progesterone can be supplemented in the form of capsules or injection, gels and creams tend to be the most common method of supplementation. When taken as a cream, progesterone works by absorbing into the skin, thus bypassing the liver, and going directly to receptor sites throughout the body where progesterone is needed.
If you’re considering taking progesterone and want to make sure you’re using a quality cream, consider the following suggestions.
Tips on choosing the best natural progesterone cream:
- Skip the yam: Yam actually contains diosgenin which can be made into progesterone in a lab, but not within the human body, where it is impossible to convert. Therefore, yam or soy will not succeed in increasing your progesterone levels.
- Avoid Progestins: Progestins are synthetic progesterone. They combine to some of the progesterone receptors in the body, but not all. Progestins are much stronger than progesterone. They can cause increased facial hair growth in women, have a negative effective on the cardiovascular system, and when combined with estrogen, will increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
- Look for bioidentical hormones: It’s important when choosing the best natural progesterone cream to pick one that is made with bioidentical hormones to the hormones in your body. This simply means that they have the same biological molecular structure to your own hormones –unlike progestins or natural yam alternatives.
One of the best natural progesterone creams is Progest Zen. Progest Zen is a bio-identical hormone cream that can offer you support if you’re suffering from low progesterone.
If you’re unsure if you need progesterone, you can always get a test to find out what your levels are. Talk to your doctor about options. And remember, in addition to supplements, always be sure to eat a healthy diet, get exercise and avoid stress.