Natural Progesterone & Women's Health

A Guide to Understanding & Controlling Menopause, PMS, Infertility, & Osteoporosis
Overview
In order to accurately evaluate the effects of estrogen and Natural Progesterone, on PMS, Fertility, Menopause, and Osteoporosis, it is necessary to identify the sources of these important hormones.  Distinguising safe and natural hormones from those that are foreign and carcinogenic will allow women to make informed choices.  This information will help them to avoid the unwanted effects of Estrogen Dominance, listed lower.
Under the normal, healthy circumstances of a menstrual cycle, estrogen is balanced by Natural Progesterone and is able to be metabolized by the liver.  Problems arise when we introduce foreign estrogens that interfere with natural hormone production and liver function and when we lower progesterone levels with stress and/or synthetic hormones.  Where do these foreign or "bad" estrogens come from?  Our diet, most prescription hormones, petrochemicals and stress are primary contributors to the hormone related health problems that women face today.
Dietary Considerations
A large portion of our country's meat, chicken and dairy products contain foreign estrogens that are used to add weight and monetary value to animals in our food chain and at the expense of our health.  In addition, pesticide residues with estrogenic properties are consumed in the food that is given to these animals and are subsequently concentrated in the milk and fat of the meat.  These exogenous estrogens are then deposited in our fatty tissues and on estrogen receptors where they have been implicated in promoting conditions from fibrocystic breast disease to breast cancer.  There are, however, "good" estrogens available in our food supply.  By replacing animal proteins with saponin-rich plant foods such as soy products we can introduce phytoestrogens (genistein), which have a higher affinity for estrogen receptors than "bad" estrogens and have been demonstrated to have protective influences against breast & endometrial cancer.
Other important dietary considerations include:

  • Reduce consumption of simple sugars (they promote sharp blood sugar fluctuations)

  • Eliminate or reduce consumption of caffeine, high fat, unfermented dairy, chocolate and alcohol

  • Eliminate completely or severly restrict commercial animal meats and saturated fats

  • Avoid hydrogenated fats when possible

  • Eliminate completely articial sweeteners, MSG, and tobacco

  • Increase cruciferous & dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains

  • Increse fiber & complex carbohydrates to 70% of daily caloric intake

  • Consume more cold water fish and legumes for protein (or protein powder)

  • Consume smaller, more frequent meals or snacks

  • Consume low quantities of protein in the evening

  • Never go more than 4 hours during any day or 12 hours overnight without food

  • Drink plenty of water (preferably distilled), 8 glasses daily.  Fluid restriction can be harmful

  • Laugh Frequently

Estrogen Dominance
Natural progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum after ovulation and balances the side effects of otherwise unopposed estrogen.  Under the influence of anovulatory cycles, menopause, stress and dietary antagonists, progesterone production ceases or is suppressed and the effects of Estrogen Dominance can be observed.  Many women experience otherwise unexplained weight gain from the lack of progesterone that is required for proper thyroid function.  It is also important that we distinguish Natural Progesterone from its counterparts in the drug industry - PROGESTINS.  Although these drugs are commonly referred to as progesterone, this is a misnomer.  In some ways they mimic the effects of progesterone in the body, but in other ways they gravely interfere with natural progesterone in the body and can create and exacerbate hormone related health problems, and be a primary contributor to the condition referred to as "Estrogen Dominance:"

  • Increased Body Fat

  • Interference with Thyroid Hormone Activity

  • Blood Sugar Irregularities

  • Depression and Headaches

  • Salt and Fluid Retention

  • Reduced Oxygen in All Cells

  • Decreased Libido (Sex Drive)

  • Loss of Zinc and Retention of Copper

  • Excessive Blood Clotting

  • Increased Risk of Breast Cancer

  • Increased Risk of Endometrial Cancer

  • Endometriosis

  • Uterine Cramping

  • Restraint of Osteoclast Function

  • Infertility

  • Joint Pain

When the above list of ill-effects is compared to the benefits of Natural Progesterone listed below, we see a nearly one-to-one correlation.
PMS & Natural Progesterone
PMS encompasses as many as 150 different symptoms, although no woman experiences them all.  When one considers how common the symptoms of PMS are in "technologically advanced: cultures, (somewhere between 60% and 80% of all menstruating women between the ages of 20 and 50 experience regular symptoms of PMS), the conclusion might be drawn that women (and their mates) are destine to suffer.  However, because there are numerous cultures among whom this condition is essentially nonexistent and unknown, diet, stresss and xeno-estrogens (foreign estrogens), often introduced in the form of contraceptives, are all major contributors to this disorder.  The observable symptoms of PMS generally include all or some combination of:

  • Irritability

  • Depression & Loss of Esteem

  • Panic Attacks

  • Loss of Libido

  • Anger

  • Weight Gain

  • Foggy Thinking

  • Acute Headaches

  • Chronic Fatigue

  • Mood Swings

  • Frustration

  • Cravings for Sweets

  • Bloating

  • Muscle/Joint Pain

  • Vertigo

  • Breast Swelling & Tenderness

As if the above symptoms are not enough, secondary consequences usually result in impaired work ability and strained interpersonal relationships.  Traditional treatments have included counseling, tranquilizers, diuretics, dietary changes, thyroid supplements, herbs, vitamins, exercise and acupuncture.  While some of these may provide some easing of symptoms, the underlying cause remains.
Compare the symptoms os PMS with the effects of Estrogen Dominance and the correlation is striking.  When we examine a normal, healthy monthly cycle, we find that estrogen is the dominant hormone during the first two weeks after menses.  Then, in response to ovulation, estrogen levels fall, progesterone levels rise and assume dominance during the final two weeks prior to menstruation. However, if during this two week period there is a surplus of estrogen, a deficiency of progesterone or a blockade of progesterone receptor sites, Estrogen Dominance results and is most often followed by the many unpleasant symptoms of PMS.
Fertility & Natural Progesterone
Interestingly, the word progesterone is given its name because of its vital supportive role in gestation (Latin: gestare), a fact that sheds some insight into its importance in the reproductive process.  Modern science confirms that insight, as, of all female hormones, progesterone is the one most essential to the survival of the fertilized egg and the fetus throughout gestation.
At ovulation, progesterone levels rapidly rise from 2-3 mg/day to an average of 22 mg per day, peaking as high as 30 mg/day.  If fertilization does not occur in ten or twelve days, progesterone levels fall dramatically, triggering the shedding of the secretory endometrium (the menses).  If pregnancy does occur, however, progesterone production is taken over by the placenta which secretes an ever increasing supply, reaching 300-400 mg/day during the third trimester!  Among the numerous other desirable effects of Natural Progesterone are:

  • Makes Possible the Survival of the Fertilized Egg

  • Maintains the Secretory Endometrium which

  • Nourishes the Ovum & Resultant Embryo

  • Progesterone Surge at Ovulation is the Source of Libido

Because progesterone is essential to prevent the premature shedding of the supportive secretory endometrium, any drop in progesterone levels or blockade of progesterone receptor sites at this time will result in the loss of the embryo.
 Osteoporosis & Natural Progesterone
Osteoporosis is a disorder in which progressive bone mass loss and demineralization increase ones risk of fracture.  This condition allows us to observe how prescription progestins and estrogens compare to natural progesterone.  The standard medical protocol for osteoporosis is to use estrogen, (commonly from pregnant mare's urine), in spite of the fact that the most authoritative medical textbooks do not support it, as the following example illustrates:
"Estrogens decrease bone resorption" but "associated with the decrease in bone resorption is a decrease in bone formation.." Scientific American's Updated Medicine Text, 1991.
Bone tissue should be broken down and rebuilt continuously, just like all of the cells in our body.  This process takes place when osteoclasts help to dissolve old bone tissue, while osteoblasts stimulate new bone growth.  Because estrogen has a rate limiting effect on osteoclasts, Estrogen Dominance delays the breakdown of bone tissue.  Natural progesterone, on the other hand, stimulates osteoblast production which results in new bone tissue growth.  It is important to note that strong bones depend on sufficient dietary calcium, exercise, stress management and normal progesterone levels.
Some Important Research
This was verified by a three year study of 63 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis**.  Women using transdermal progesterone experienced an average 7-8% bone mass density increase the first year, 4-5% the second year and 3-4% the third year!  Untreated women in this age category typically lose 1.5% bone mass density per year!!!  These results have not been found with any other form of hormone replacement therapy or dietary supplementation!
**Lee, J. R., Osteoporosis Reversal: the Role of Progesterone. Intern. Clin. Nutr. Rev. 1990; 10:384-391.
Menopause/Hysterectomy
Another commonality of the worlds' industrialized societies is the prevalence of uterine fibroids, breast and/or uterine cancer, fibrocystic breast disease, premenopausal bone loss as well as a high incidence of postmenopausal osteoporosis.  Significantly the common thread weaving its way through all of these conditions is estrogen dominance, secondary to a relative insufficiency of progesterone.  In cases where Estrogen Replacement Therapy is used to control hot flashes, natural estriol is recommended for 1-3 months.  This is a safe, non-cancer promoting estrogen available by prescription only.  In most cases, however, estriol is not needed when a sufficient amount of Natural Progesterone Cream is used topically, as it is the precursor (raw material) for other adrenal hormones, including estrogen (estriol) and cortisone (arthritis).
By establishing a balance of these hormones, fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone, the resulatant hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause are most often eliminated.
Natural Progesterone Sources & Efficacy
Natural progesterone is manufactured by the corpus luteum at ovulation, (20-25 mg/day), by the placenta during pregnancy (up to 300-400 mg/day!) and by the adrenal glands.  When progesterone production is suppressed, however, Natural Transdermal Progesterone cream, applied topically is stored in the fatty tissues for use as required by the body and has been shown to increase bio-available progesterone levels and thereby reverse the unpleasant effects of Estrogen Dominance*.  The resultant benefits of natural progesterone include:

  • Helps Use Fat for Energy

  • Natural Antidepressant

  • Promotes restful sleep

  • Facilitates Thyroid Hormone Activity

  • Normalizes Blood Sugar Levels

  • Restores Proper Cell Oxygen Levels

  • Restores Libido

  • Normalizes Zinc & Copper Levels

  • Normalizes Blood Clotting

  • Protects Against Breast Fibrocysts

  • Helps Prevent Breast & Endometrial Cancer

  • Necessary for Survival of Embryo

  • Maintains Secretory Endometrium

  • Stimulates Oseoblast Function (Bone Building)

  • Precursor for Corticosteroid Production (Arthritis)

As you can see, natural progesterone counterbalances the effects of estrogen dominance discussed above, on a nearly one to one basis!
"WHAT YOUR DOCTOR MAY NOT TELL YOU ABOUT MENOPAUSE", Dr. John R. Lee, Warner Books, May, 1996.
Suggested Use of Progesterone Cream
Progesterone is very well absorbed transdermally when it is in a properly formulated cream and unlike oral progesterone, it is not subject to being intercepted by the liver.  For those women who are especially deficient in Natural Progesterone, it may take two to three months to restore optimal levels.
It should be applied by the palms of the hands to the fatty tissue by the palms of the hands to the fatty tissue areas of the body twice daily, where it is stored for use as needed: the face, neck, lower abdomen, hips, buttocks, thighs and breasts on a rotational basis.
When the cream contains less than 1200 mg of progesterone per 2 ounces, Informed Women have chosen the following application schedules:
PMS & Infertility
Begin using cream 14 days from the first day of menstruation. Use approximately 1/8 teaspoon twice a day.  Stop using the cream on day 28.  Informed women who experience uterine cramping have chosen to apply the cream just above the pubic area at the onset of cramps and those who experience hormone related headaches have chosen to apply the cream to the sides of the neck, just behind the earlobe, at the onset of headaches.
Menopause/Hysterectomy/Osteoporosis
The cream should be applied 24 days out of the month and be discontinued for 6-7 days.  Informed women have chosen to apply between 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon per day, in two divided doses, for all 24 days, depending on the severity of their symptoms and beginning progesterone levels.  Women who are experiencing hot flashes may apply a small dab of the cream to the inside 0f the wrist at the onset of a hot flash.  800 i.u. of natural Vitamin E per day in two divided doses has also proved helpful for relief from hot flashes.
Successful Treatments
Dr. Joel T. Hargrove of Vanderbilt University Medical Center has seen a 90% success rate in treating PMS with oral doses of natural progesterone.
More impressive results, however, have been reported by Dr. John R. Lee, M.D., using Transdermal Natural Progesterone in his practice for more than 15 years**.  The difference between the methods of application is that oral progesterone requires 8-10 times the dose to obtain the same results of Transdermal Progesterone.  Approximately 80% to 90% of oral progesterone is intercepted by the liver and conjugated by glucuronic acid for excretion in the bile.
In fifteen years of clinical practice Dr. Lee has observed the consistent benefits and safety of natural progesterone therapy.  He makes this statement:  "Though not completely understood, PMS most commonly represents an individual reaction to estrogen dominance, secondary to relative progesterone deficiency.  Appropriate treatment requires correction of this hormone imbalance and the most effective technique, at present, for achieving this is supplemental Transdermal Natural Progesterone."
References

  1.  "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause", John R. Lee, MD. Warner Books, May, 1996.

  2. Permeation of Steroids Through Human Skin.  Johnson, et.sl., 1995, Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Sept. 1995.

  3. Progesterone as a bone-trophic hormone. Prior, J.C. 1990. Endocr. Rev 11:386-98.

  4. The risk of breast cancer after estrogen and estrogen-progestin replacement. Bergkvist, L., et.al., 1989, New England Journal of Medicine.

  5. Endogenous hormones as a major factor in human cancer.  Henderon, B.E., R.K. Ross, M.C. Pike, and J.T. Casagrande. 1982. Cancer Research 42:3232-39.

  6. Effects of transdermal versus oral hormone replacement therapy on bone density in spine and proximal femur in postmenopausal women.  Stevenson, J.C., et al. 1990. Lancet 336:265-26.