Clayton's Health Facts: Progesterone

Clayton South, SPN (ISSA), is a recognized expert in the bodybuilding / fitness industry with over 150 bodybuilding, fitness and nutrition publications to his credit.

What Is It?
And Where Does It Come From?

Progesterone is a hormone that is manufactured by the female endocrine system. The corpus luteum secretes progesterone in an attempt to oppose the action of estrogen.

What Does It Do?
And What Scientific Studies Give Evidence To Support This?

Progesterone is critical for supporting healthy pregnancy and maintaining the estrogen to progesterone ratio.

A loss in progesterone production can lead to a condition known as estrogen dominance. This is commonly seen in older women and can be responsible for severe mood and psychiatric disturbances.

Progesterone balances out the body's hormone profile and better allows the body to handle estrogen. Elevated estrogen levels are associated with increased ovarian cancer rates, and progesterone can protect against ovarian cancer by controlling the function of estrogen.

Progesterone administration has been shown to support healthy joint function by acting as an antiflamatory. It also helps to prevent bloating and water retention. When a woman is menstruating, bloating and water retention are common, and this is because estrogen levels are in a constant state of fluctuation. By supplementing with progesterone, estrogen levels can be balanced, and PMS symptoms can be significantly reduced.

Many new products on the market containing progesterone are topical creams. Some of these creams have been show to be effective at delivering progesterone and causing the body to burn body fat for energy. Progesterone is also effective at moisturizing the skin and restoring to the skin a youthful look.

Clinical research has demonstrated that relatively short-term use of progestin was associated with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer.1

Progesterone injections have been used for some time as a way to influence and manage insulin levels. The administration of progesterone in this way has been effective, leading some to speculate that transdermal progesterone creams may elicit similar efficacious effects without having to resort to painful injections.

While progesterone injections can influence insulin levels, clinical research has demonstrated that transdermal administration of progresterone (in the form of a cream) did not elicit any significant effects on insulin function.2

Who needs it?
And what are some symptoms of deficiency?

All women free of medical complication can benefit from progesterone supplementation. Women with suspected or diagnosed medical conditions should consult with a physician prior to supplementing with any product containing progesterone.

Women who suffer from severe menstrual complication can benefit from progesterone supplementation, as can middle-aged to older women who have lower endogenous progesterone levels.

As mentioned, women suffering from estrogen dominance have progesterone deficiency. Symptoms of estrogen dominance can include weight gain, depression, water retention, cramping and infertility.

Progesterone helps to regulate estrogen function and therefore can minimize the symptoms of estrogen dominance.

How much should be taken?
Are there any side effects?

Side effects have been noticed with the use of synthetic progesterone. Synthetic progesterone is commonly called progestin or progesterone acetate. However, no known side effects from natural progesterone have been noted in scientific literature.

Caution should be exercised with progesterone administration. Progesterone can have sedative-like effects in men and women.3

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  • Chlebowski RT, Wactawski-Wende J, Ritenbaugh C, Hubbell FA, Ascensao J, Rodabough RJ, Rosenberg CA, Taylor VM, Harris R, Chen C, Adams-Campbell LL, White E; Women's Health Initiative Investigators. Estrogen plus progestin and colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women. N Engl J Med. 2004 Mar 4;350(10):991-1004.
  • Vrbikova J, Stanicka S, Dvorakova K, Hill M, Vondra K, Bendlova B, Starka L. Metabolic and endocrine effects of treatment with peroral or transdermal oestrogens in conjunction with peroral cyproterone acetate in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Eur J Endocrinol. 2004 Feb;150(2):215-23.
  • Soderpalm AH, Lindsey S, Purdy RH, Hauger R, Wit de H.Administration of progesterone produces mild sedative-like effects in men and women. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2004 Apr;29(3):339-54.