Progesterone and Menopause
Menopause is the stage in a woman's life when her ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone, which leads to a cessation of her menstrual cycle. The adrenal glands still produce these hormones. However, the adrenal glands produce these hormones at significantly lower levels. Typically a woman can expect anywhere from a 40% to 80% reduction in estrogen levels, progesterone levels typically approach zero.
Menopause generally occurs in women between the ages of 45 and 60. However, there are cases of menopause occurring at much earlier ages and even later ages.
It is important to point out, that menopause is not the only reason for poor progesterone production in the body. Some pre-menopausal women just have low progesterone production that can lead to many unpleasant side effects, including problems during pregnancy.
Some symptoms that often occur during or after menopause:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary problems
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Mood swings
- Weight gain or loss
- Memory loss
Reported symptoms of low progesterone levels, include the symptoms above and the following as well:
- Periods occur more frequently or are missed and tissue buildup can occur
- Miscarriages and fertilization problems
- Osteoporosis and pre-menopausal bone loss
- Decreased sex drive
- Fatigue and depression
- Acceleration of the aging process
- Breast tenderness
- Foggy thinking and memory loss
- Water retention and bloating
- Allergies, asthma, hives, rashes (as well as other skin disorders), and sinus congestion
The above list is by no means comprehensive. There are more known, and probably many more, unknown symptoms that occur due to progesterone deficiency.
Post-menopausal women, and women experiencing the symptoms outlined above, should request a saliva test. Some doctors will still insist on doing a blood based hormone test, however, these tests are notoriously incorrect. Saliva tests have the reputation for being the most accurate tests for determining hormonal levels.
Many doctors have been misinformed, and believe that progestins (synthetic progesterone made by pharmaceutical companies) are the same thing as natural progesterone. The fact is, that the synthetic progesterone has a different molecular structure than the progesterone that your body produces. In fact, it has been reported, that many of these synthetic products cause many of the side effects that they were meant to relieve.
There have been several studies on synthetic progesterone and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). A recent study concluded that HRT actually INCREASES your chances for developing breast cancer and may also increase your risk of heart attack. Natural progesterone, which comes from the Mexican Wild Yam, is molecularly identical to the progesterone produced by your body.
It is important to note, that reports indicate no significant side effects when using natural progesterone. As Dr. John Lee points out, unlike synthetics, you cannot overdose on natural progesterone.
Findings indicate that natural progesterone can relieve the symptoms, and in some cases, even reverse the effects of short term and long-term progesterone deficiency when included in your health plan. That is why it is so important to find a doctor that understands the benefits of natural progesterone over the synthetics.