Journal / Preventive Care

Why Progesterone-only?

Nancy L. Belcher

Medically reviewed by Nancy L. Belcher Ph.D, MPA

Written by Winona Editorial Team

Last updated November 25, 2021

Why Progesterone-only?

Benefits of Progesterone

Progesterone has many nicknames. It is sometimes called the ‘miracle hormone’,  ‘the great sedator,’ ‘happy cream,’ and more.  Many women suffering from low progesterone with perimenopause and menopause are taking progesterone-only cream at night to help with sleep and other symptoms of menopause and aging. They also can try taking a progesterone-only pill for the same reasons.

Your body makes progesterone naturally, but it drops considerably after about age 35. You can supplement that decline safely with bioidentical progesterone. The possible progesterone side effects have been studied extensively.  As a bioidentical hormone, progesterone replenishes the chemicals naturally made in your body.  No harmful side effects have been noted at prescribed levels.  

Low progesterone levels can lead to some very unpleasant side effects noted in menopause and perimenopause, and can also provide long-term health benefits. Some health conditions place women at higher risks for diseases associated with hormone therapy, however. Your Winona physicians will go over your health history in detail before prescribing bioidentical hormones.1-3 

Progesterone is a hormone that deserves to be noticed outside of its role with estrogen. Estrogen and progesterone do not have to be prescribed together. Some believe that progesterone should only be prescribed together with estrogen and only if a woman still has her uterus. However, the protective benefits of progesterone are realized throughout the entire body, and not just the uterus.

Progestin is useful in treating common menopausal symptoms. Bioidentical Progesterone can be administered orally, or through a cream applied to the skin. Progesterone thins the uterine lining, helping to prevent the development of endometrial cancer. Taken on its own or with estrogen, progesterone may also improve sleep and protect some cognitive functions.

Other Benefits of Progesterone Supplementation (as related to women 40+):

  • Eases anxiety, & stress: It has a calming effect on both the mind and the body.

  • Improves mood: Depleted progesterone can cause mood swings and depression. 

  • Promotes memory: Progesterone stimulates brain processes and the nervous system.

  • Improves sleep: Take before bed to help resume normal sleep cycles; it has a sedative effect.

  • Helps regulate estrogen: If progesterone levels are low, this can throw off estrogen too. 

  • Helps Prevent Diabetes: Progesterone and estrogen work together to balance the release of insulin. If insulin levels are off you can have an increased risk for Insulin Resistance or Diabetes.

  • Protects from Cancer: Progesterone prevents overgrowth of certain types of cells and can help protect against some cancers including those of the breast or the uterus.

  • Reduces weight gain: Progesterone improves the metabolism and the use of fat for energy.

  • Heart Disease prevention: Progesterone can assist in preventing plaque from forming on arterial walls.

  • Lowers cholesterol: Specifically, progesterone can lower the ‘bad’ fat (triglycerides).

  • Healthy Bone formation: Essential for bone growth and loss of Ca.

  • Effective Thyroid Gland: Assists in the proper function of the thyroid gland

  • Anti-Aging: Can help to slow down the aging process

  • Improves libido/ sex drive

  • Reduces or eliminates migraines

  • Reduces inflammation and joint pain

  • Reduces hot flashes

When progesterone is out of balance, you may begin to experience problems other problems with your:

  • Nervous system.

  • Immune system.

  • Digestion and bloating.

  • Skin (acne and other issues).

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What Does Progesterone Do?

Progesterone prepares your body (the endometrium) for the potential of pregnancy after ovulation. Progestin can also be used to treat menopause symptoms. Progesterone is primarily made in the ovaries, and some are produced in the adrenal glands. During pregnancy, progesterone is also made by the placenta. The word “Progesterone” originates from Latin. “Pro” means “for,” and “Gesterone” means “gestation” (time between conception and birth).

For women who are perimenopausal or menopausal,  providers may suggest an oral pill or a cream, both containing micronized progesterone. Winona physicians are devoted to helping you with your symptoms. We use scientific-based protocols to treat the root cause of hormonal imbalances. Since progesterone has a sedative effect, doctors recommend that it be taken before bed- and it can help resume normal sleep cycles.3

Where can you buy natural progesterone?

If you’re looking for natural progesterone, you can buy products made from yams from the variety Diascorea uilosa. When extracted from these sources, progesterone is considered bioidentical to the progesterone a woman’s body makes.

Please note: Traditional table yams that you find in the market won’t offer the same benefits as if they are extracted in the lab. In other words, you can’t just eat a whole lot more yams. It’s unfortunately not that easy.

Creams: Natural progesterone is most commonly available as a cream. The body absorbs creams well, making them more available in the bloodstream. Winona’s Progesterone Cream is easy to use – just apply a dime-sized amount of cream onto the inside of the wrists, arms, stomach, or thighs daily.

Pills: Natural progesterone pills are also available. However, the liver breaks down progesterone quickly, so less becomes available to the bloodstream. A person would have to take much more oral progesterone than they would if they chose to apply the progesterone cream.

Natural progesterone foods: While foods don’t contain progesterone, some foods may help stimulate the body’s production of progesterone. These include:

  • beans

  • broccoli

  • Brussels sprouts

  • cabbage

  • cauliflower

  • kale

  • nuts

  • pumpkin

  • spinach

  • whole grain

Summary 

At Winona, you and your health care provider will discuss your medical history and risk factors, as well as how HRT can be tailored to your needs. They will also discuss progesterone side effects. A women’s health specialist will work with you to tailor a treatment that is both safe and effective.

If you are suffering from perimenopause and menopause, you can try taking progesterone-only cream or a progesterone-only pill at night to help with sleep and other symptoms of low progesterone that happens in menopause and with aging.  You can supplement this natural decline by taking progesterone safely with bioidentical progesterone.

Whether experiencing severe or minor symptoms, women can embrace their evolving bodies by providing the nutrients their body needs like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Bioidentical, natural hormones used in HRT can enable them to move through this sometimes precarious phase with grace and wellness. Let the Winona women’s health care experts work with you to replace the missing ingredients to help you feel, and stay, young and healthy.

“This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.”

References:

  1. https://www.leighannscottmd.com/progesterone-benefits/

  2. https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/progesterone

  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/progesterone-for-menopause#bottom-line