This is Part 1 of a two part article. The two parts can be read independently. If you simply want my recommendations on how to use bioidentical progesterone, and which products I recommend, jump to Part 2.
In this first part we’ll take a look at progesterone and hormones in general. In Part 2 we’ll look at how to use bioidentical progesterone, progesterone supplementation, and the best natural progesterone products I’m familiar with.
Hormones play a fundamental role in regulating various bodily functions, and maintaining their delicate balance is essential for overall health and well-being. In the realm of natural health, one name stands out for shedding light on the intricate world of hormones and their impact on our bodies: Dr. John Lee. With his extensive research and pioneering work, Dr. Lee opened a new chapter in understanding hormonal health, particularly focusing on the vital role of natural progesterone.
In this article, I will delve into the realm of hormonal harmony, exploring the effects of estrogen dominance and the significance of having adequate progesterone levels. Dr. John Lee’s insights will serve as a guiding light as I navigate the complexities of hormonal imbalances and discover the potential of natural progesterone in restoring equilibrium. Let’s embark on a journey to uncover the remarkable interplay between hormones and health.
Understanding Hormonal Imbalances
Hormonal imbalances can cause all sorts of problems for both men and women. But when it comes to women’s health, estrogen dominance is a big issue. Estrogen is important for reproductive health, but when it becomes too dominant compared to other hormones like progesterone, things can get out of whack. Because the effects of a hormone imbalance tend to creep up on us, and affect how we feel and perceive the world, it’s common to not realise what’s going on. When considering their mood swings, irritability, low libido, etc., people with low progesterone and or excess estrogen tends to think, “This is me … this is who I am.”
Estrogen Dominance and Its Impact:
When estrogen levels are higher than other sex hormones, especially progesterone, that’s called estrogen dominance. It can cause a whole range of symptoms and health issues. From irregular periods and mood swings to weight gain and fatigue, estrogen dominance is no fun. It can be disruptive and distressing.
Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance:
- Irregular or heavy periods
- Mood swings, irritability, and anxiety
- Breast tenderness and swelling
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Weight gain, especially around the hips and thighs
- Fatigue and low energy levels
- Decreased libido
Health Risks Associated with Estrogen Dominance:
Beyond its uncomfortable symptoms, estrogen dominance is also associated with potential health risks. Elevated estrogen levels have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and even cardiovascular problems.
The Role of Progesterone in Balancing Estrogen:
Enter progesterone, often referred to as estrogen’s natural counterpart. Progesterone plays a pivotal role in counteracting the effects of estrogen and maintaining hormonal equilibrium. It works as a balancer, helping to temper the potentially overstimulating effects of estrogen on various tissues and organs.
Understanding the dynamics between estrogen and progesterone is crucial in addressing hormonal imbalances. In the next section, I will delve deeper into the functions of progesterone and how it contributes to restoring harmony in the body.
The Role of Progesterone
Progesterone, also known as the “pro-gestational hormone,” is a natural hormone that does a whole lot of good in our bodies. It’s mainly produced in the ovaries after ovulation, but the adrenal glands also produce a smaller amount. Here’s what progesterone does:
Menstrual Cycle Regulation:
For a woman, after menarche (her first period) through to menopause, progesterone teams up with estrogen to regulate a her menstrual cycles. After ovulation, progesterone levels rise to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If pregnancy doesn’t happen, progesterone levels drop, and women get their period.
Fertility and Pregnancy:
During pregnancy, progesterone plays a vital role in keeping the uterus healthy and preventing premature labor. It also helps grow the blood vessels needed to nourish the growing embryo.
One of the most important things progesterone does is balance out the effects of estrogen. It counteracts estrogen’s growth-promoting effects on the uterus and breast tissue. This balance is crucial to prevent conditions like endometriosis and fibrocystic breasts.
Mood and Well-Being:
Progesterone has a calming effect on our nervous system. It can help soothe mood swings, irritability, and anxiety that can be worsened by estrogen dominance. Having enough progesterone is linked to feeling emotionally balanced and good vibes all around.
Progesterone also helps with bone health. It works together with estrogen and other hormones to keep our bones strong and prevent osteoporosis.
Skin and Connective Tissue Health:
Collagen, the protein that keeps our skin elastic and helps with tissue repair, needs progesterone to do its job. So, having enough progesterone is essential for healthy skin and connective tissues.
The Role of Progesterone for Men
While progesterone is often associated with its pivotal role in women’s health, it also plays a significant role in the well-being of men. In males, progesterone is primarily produced in the testes and serves several vital functions. It acts as a precursor to other hormones, including testosterone and cortisol. Progesterone contributes to the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, enhances mood, and supports brain function by promoting a sense of calmness. Moreover, it aids in the maintenance of bone density and muscle mass, making it essential for overall physical vitality. Though men naturally produce lower levels of progesterone compared to women, its presence is critical for hormonal balance and optimal health throughout a man’s life.
Causes of Estrogen Dominance
When estrogen dominance or low progesterone levels mess with these important functions, things can go haywire. That’s why it’s crucial to restore hormonal balance naturally, and that’s where bioidentical progesterone comes in. We’ll explore the causes of estrogen dominance below, and in Part 2 we’ll get into the benefits of natural progesterone.
Estrogen dominance isn’t just caused by our bodies’ internal processes. External factors, like what we’re exposed to in the environment and what we eat, play a big role too. Here are six common causes of estrogen dominance:
These are synthetic compounds found in things like plastics, cosmetics, and pesticides. They act like estrogen in our bodies and can increase our overall estrogen levels. They’re practically everywhere CNN: Synthetic chemical in consumer products linked to early death, study finds. Common sources of xenoestrogens include plastic containers, canned foods, and personal care products containing parabens and phthalates. Even common-shopping receipts have phthalates on them.Toxic Free Future: New report: 9 out of 10 receipts contain toxic BPA or BPS CBS NEWS: 80% of receipts at major store chains contain “toxic” chemicals, report says.
I highly recommend avoiding phthalate exposure as much as practically possible.
2. Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals:
Certain chemicals found in the environment (as human pollution), known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), mess with our natural hormone production and regulation. They can mimic estrogen or disrupt our endocrine system, leading to hormonal imbalances. You can read more about EDCs here.
3. Diet High in Processed Foods:
Processed and refined foods can contribute to estrogen dominance. They’re often loaded with additives, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners that can disrupt our hormonal balance. And let’s not forget about the excess sugar, which can make things even worse. You can read more about this here.
4. Non-Organic Meat and Dairy:
Conventionally raised animals are often treated with hormones and antibiotics. Eating non-organic meat and dairy products means we’re exposing ourselves to even more hormones, which can contribute to estrogen overload. The simple solution to this is to eat less meat, eat wild game if possible, or at least eat certified organic meats.
5. Stress and Cortisol Imbalance:
Stress messes with everything, especially our hormones. Chronic stress can increase cortisol production, which is a hormone that competes with progesterone. High cortisol levels can decrease progesterone synthesis and contribute to estrogen dominance.
Addressing sources of stress (which should include becoming conscious of your internal responses to life, which are stress producing) is important. Also the regular use of adaptogens (a class of medicinal foods / herbs) can help the body to not have an adverse stress response.
6. Lack of Physical Activity:
Sitting around all day isn’t good for our hormones. Regular exercise helps maintain hormonal balance and keeps us healthy overall. So, get moving!
Understanding these external causes of estrogen dominance is important for tackling the problem. By making healthier lifestyle choices and reducing our exposure to estrogen-mimicking substances, we can take control of our hormonal balance. In the next section, we’ll explore how estrogen dominance and low progesterone work together to create a never-ending cycle of imbalance.
The Connection: Estrogen Dominance and Low Progesterone
Estrogen and progesterone are like two peas in a pod. They work together, and when one is out of whack, it messes with the other. This creates a vicious cycle of hormonal disharmony that can be hard to break. Let’s dive into this connection:
The Interplay between Estrogen and Progesterone:
Estrogen and progesterone are a dynamic duo. When estrogen levels become dominant, like in estrogen dominance, progesterone levels may drop. This drop in progesterone makes estrogen’s effects even stronger, and the cycle continues.
Exacerbation of Estrogen Dominance by Low Progesterone:
Low progesterone levels make estrogen dominance worse. Without enough progesterone to balance it out, estrogen can go wild and wreak havoc on our tissues. This can lead to conditions like endometriosis, fibrocystic breasts, and heavy periods.
The Vicious Cycle:
As estrogen dominance gets worse, it can cause stress and anxiety, which leads to more cortisol production. Cortisol competes with progesterone and lowers its levels even more. This perpetuates the cycle of estrogen dominance and low progesterone, making it even harder to find balance.
Addressing the Cycle: The Role of Natural Progesterone:
Breaking free from the cycle of estrogen dominance and low progesterone is crucial for restoring hormonal harmony. That’s where natural progesterone comes in. It helps counteract estrogen’s effects and brings balance back to our hormones. It’s like a superhero for our bodies!
This concludes Part 1 of this article. In Part 2 we’ll take a closer look at natural progesterone and how it can help us restore hormonal balance. Get ready for some progesterone power!
References & Further Reading:
- Lee, John R. “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause: The Breakthrough Book on Natural Progesterone.” Warner Books, 1996.
- Lee, John R. “Hormone Balance Made Simple: The Essential How-to Guide to Symptoms, Dosage, Timing, and More.” Wellness Central, 2006.
- Lee, John R., and Jesse Hanley. “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause: Balance Your Hormones and Your Life from Thirty to Fifty.” Grand Central Publishing, 1999.
- Prior, Jerilynn C. “Progesterone for treatment of symptomatic menopausal women.” Climacteric 12.1 (2009): 1-2.
- Schüssler, Petra, and Christine Klapp. “Premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: guidelines for management.” Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology 30.4 (2009): 237-240.
- Women’s Health Network. “Dr. John Lee’s recommendations for using natural progesterone cream.“
- Northrup, Christiane. “The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing During the Change.” Bantam, 2006.
- Kent Holtorf, Eric, “The bioidentical hormone debate: are bioidentical hormones (estradiol, estriol, and progesterone) safer or more efficacious than commonly used synthetic versions in hormone replacement therapy?”, PubMed.
Please note that the above references provide valuable sources of information that have contributed to the content of this article. I encourage you to explore these resources for further in-depth understanding and insights into the topics discussed. I especially recommend reading the books by the late Dr. John Lee, M.D.
Footnotes & References
|⇧1||CNN: Synthetic chemical in consumer products linked to early death, study finds|
|⇧2||Toxic Free Future: New report: 9 out of 10 receipts contain toxic BPA or BPS|
|⇧3||CBS NEWS: 80% of receipts at major store chains contain “toxic” chemicals, report says|