Progesterone is known primarily as a female hormone associated with fertility. While many women look into taking it as part of their birth control medication or as a way to get through menopause smoothly, you should not overlook the many other important aspects of this chemical messenger whether you are a woman or a man.
What Does Progesterone Do?
First, you should stop and ask yourself, “What is progesterone?” This hormone is secreted from the corpus luteum in females. The progesterone hormone is a huge marker of fertility because it readies the endometrium for the fertilized egg. Therefore, it helps the female body accept the egg and promotes fertility. In addition, progesterone function is clearly linked to menstruation. If no fertilized egg attaches to the endometrium, progesterone levels drop, signaling the beginning of the menstrual cycle. In addition, progesterone effects continue throughout pregnancy as the placenta creates more progesterone. High levels of this hormone are needed to keep the fetus viable.
As women age, progesterone therapy is often used to offset the negative side effects of menopause, such as hot flashes and mood changes. However, this therapy may also be used for those who need higher levels of the hormone than they are naturally producing to improve fertility or treat menstrual disorders. Licensed, board-certified physicians may also use it as a treatment for the following:
Progesterone: Is It Only a Female Hormone?
This may make you wonder whether there is any progesterone in men’s bodies. It may surprise you to learn that even men need low levels of progesterone to create testosterone, an important male hormone connected with sexuality, energy and mood as well as bone and muscle strength.
In men, progesterone is produced in both the adrenal glands and the testes. Because this hormone is used completely different in males than it is in females, men must use progesterone therapy in a completely different way than their female counterparts do. A close working relationship with a physician familiar with male hormones and progesterone is necessary.
Symptoms of Low Progesterone in Men and Women
Because progesterone affects men and women so differently, low progesterone symptoms in both genders will also appear to be very different from each other. Low progesterone levels may manifest in the following ways for men.
On the other hand, signs of low progesterone in women may appear in the following ways.
-Irregular or missed menstrual cycles
–Infertility or miscarriage
-Anxiety and depression
-Vaginal dryness and irritation
Why Do Progesterone Levels Fall?
One of the most frequent causes of low progesterone is the aging progress. Hormonal levels drop naturally for both men and women. For women, pre-menopause signals shifting hormones, and progesterone will drop rapidly throughout the next year or two. Women may also have decreased progesterone levels during the childbearing years due to poor ovarian function.
There are several other reasons why you may have low progesterone levels. Stress can cause a progesterone deficiency because of the added levels of cortisol and adrenaline. In addition, certain chemicals known as xenohormones decrease levels of progesterone in men and women. Xenohormones can be found in pesticides, herbicides, plastics, fingernail polish and many other pollutants and chemicals, and they mimic estrogen in the body, directly causing progesterone to lower.
If you are wondering whether your progesterone is low or if you are experiencing some of these symptoms, you may want to request a progesterone test or PGSN. Normal progesterone levels are typically the following:
-5-20 ng/ml for menstruating women
-11-90 ng/ml for pregnant women
-less than 1 ng/ml for men, for women beginning their menstrual cycles and for postmenopausal women
Low Progesterone Treatment
If you have a positive PGSN test or want to rid yourself of uncomfortable low progesterone symptoms, you have a variety of safe and effective treatment options available to you today. Your trusted doctor or endocrinologist is the best person to ask about how to increase progesterone, and he or she may give you several options based on your needs. If you are like many, progesterone pills may be the best option for keeping levels consistent. Progesterone supplements are generally easy to take and budget-friendly.
However, some women prefer progesterone creams, which can be applied topically. Some creams are applied vaginally to decrease vaginal dryness and improve libido. However, other creams can be applied on the chest or other places where the skin is thin and blood vessels are close to the surface to aid in quick absorption.
A progesterone injection is another option commonly used by pregnant women who need to keep up their hormone levels to prevent a miscarriage. However, it can also be used to treat such problems as amenorrhea or uterine bleeding. These shots are given under your doctor’s supervision at an approved health care facility.
Progesterone Therapy Pros and Cons
Learning what are the benefits of progesterone can help you feel more comfortable in receiving this therapy if it is recommended by your doctor. For many people, getting an extra boost of this hormone to correct a progesterone deficiency can help them feel more comfortable in their own bodies. Benefits of progesterone therapy through the help of a qualified doctor can include the following:
-Decreased menopause symptoms
-Improved bone density
-Improved brain health
In addition, research has shown that progesterone can protect the body from uterine, colon and breast cancers.
However, you should be aware of certain progesterone side effects that could bother you. Thankfully, there are very few major dangers of progesterone therapy when taken as prescribed, but side effects could include the following:
Taking Estrogen and Progesterone Together
Many women choose to take estrogen and progesterone simultaneously. Known as combination therapy, estrogen-progesterone therapy combines the benefits of progesterone with the added benefits of vaginal and uterine health that come from estrogen. By focusing on the function of estrogen and progesterone together, you may be able to further decrease mood swings, decrease menopausal symptoms and feel more like yourself.
If you have asked yourself, “Is it safe to take progesterone alone rather than taking it with estrogen?” you should know that both options are completely safe in certain situations. Be sure to talk with your doctor to find out what may be right for you. While there is really no best time of day to take estrogen and progesterone, you will want to make sure that you take it at the same time daily to get the best effects.
Whether you choose a natural or a synthetic progesterone product, you should be sure that your doctor knows what you are taking and approves the over-the-counter option or writes a prescription for you. You should know that this therapy can be useful for women of nearly any age through menopause as well as for men in certain circumstances.