Menopause and Natural Progesterone


A number of hormonal changes occur as women enter menopause – can Natural progesterone help?

The transition is characterized by erratic, but on average, higher than premenopausal estrogen levels, while progesterone levels steadily decline as the number of menstrual cycles without ovulation increases, and remain extremely low thereafter.

Few researchers have studied the relationship between longitudinal changes in hormones and menopausal symptoms, although a recent study (see Randolph 2005) looked at levels of reproductive hormones and found only serum FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) was associated with the frequency of hot flashes and night sweats. Unfortunately the authors did not look at progesterone levels.

Menopausal symptoms are therefore not simply a sign of estrogen deficiency.

Progestins or progesterone have long been a component of postmenopausal hormone therapy, because they have been given to protect the uterus from the proliferative effects of estrogen that may otherwise lead to uterine cancer. There is a great need for more studies of progesterone alone, without estrogen, in women with menopausal symptoms, since those that have been done have shown significant relief.

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As Dr. R. Lee MD reveals in hisbook “Natural Progesterone: The Multiple Roles of a Remarkable Hormone (2nd Edition)  ” “Conventional medicine has long held that oestrogen production declines during premenopausal years. This is NOT true. Dr. Jerilyn C. Prior (Prior J.C. ‘Premenopause: the complex endocrinology of the menopausal transition’. Endocrine Reviews 1998; 19 (4):397-426) thoroughly reviewd all pertinent references from 1990 to the present and found no evidence that oestrogen levels fall before menopause. All evidence indicates that overal oestrogen production remains at normal premenopausal levels.

It has also been assumed that premenopausal hot flushes are caused by oestrogen defficiency. If oestrogen levels are normal, what causes the hot flushes? It is fluctuatinghormones against a background of progesterone deficiency. Remember, women begin to have non-ovulating menstrual cycles in their mid thirtis. Any month that you don’t ovulate, you don’t make any progesterone (although you will still have a menstrual period). Without progesterone you can’t maintain good oestrogen receptor sensitivity, so even when there’s plenty of oestrogen available, your cells can’t use it as effectively.

Thus treating the underlying progesterone deficiency first to reduce the overall hormone fluctuations allows you to take advantage of the oestrogen you have”.