When you know that a large part of our general and mental health are governed by our hormones, it becomes clear that maintaining the correct balance is essential for optimum well-being particularly in women. Two of the most important hormones are progesterone and oestrogen which regulate the monthly cycle and are mostly in balance during a woman’s menstrual life. If for any reason this very sensitive equilibrium is disrupted, many problems can and do occur as listed under Symptoms & Diseases.

Conventional medicine is often given to correct this imbalance by providing hormone substitutes such as the synthetic hormones contained in the Pill or HRT. These can be effective but have many disadvantages due to the side-effects. This is mainly because they are not natural to the body, are very powerful, given as a one size dose suits all and cannot follow the proper hormonal pathways as nature intended. Logically thinking, it would therefore make sense to supplement with hormones which are bio-identical to those which the body produces naturally. This is extremely important especially for the hormone progesterone which is all that women may need in the first place. This is because progesterone is the precursor to nearly all the other steroid hormones such as oestrogen, testosterone and all the cortico steroids which are involved with controlling stress. It can help make and rebalance them if there are any symptoms that one is too dominant or another too low.

Unlike other hormones, progesterone is very safe to supplement with as it has no known harmful side-effects. In fact, it has many well researched and proven beneficial roles within the body and is not just involved with reproduction. It protects the heart and cardio vascular system, protects against cancer, has a role in protecting against osteoporosis, plays an important role in brain injury and repair, and maintains pregnancy to full term which is not possible if a woman does not produce adequate amounts naturally.

Natural progesterone, so called because it is bio-identical to the progesterone produced in the body, is not a drug as many articles have erroneously stated. It is a hormone which our body desperately needs when it becomes deficient or other hormones become more dominant such as oestrogen or testosterone. It is produced in significant amounts during every ‘normal’ monthly cycle which balances and negates the potential harmful effects of too much oestrogen. It is produced in huge amounts during pregnancy. The mother’s body is awash with progesterone which surrounds the developing foetus until birth. This is a measure of how safe and important progesterone is. Compare this to the safety of the contraceptive pill or HRT which contains very powerful synthetic hormones which millions of women are using in most Western countries today. It is interesting to know that one of our most natural potent oestrogens called oestradiol is lowered significantly during pregnancy as the body, in its infinite wisdom, knows that oestradiol can have an adverse effect on the embryotic stages of the baby’s life. See the book ‘Our Stolen Future’ by Theo Colburn.

A very few women will experience a worsening of their symptoms when first using progesterone as a supplement. This does not usually last very long and is a sign that it is starting to make changes which is similar to when first becoming pregnant. Also, it may be a sign that the body’s hormones are grossly imbalanced as recognised by symptoms when not using any form of hormone therapy yet still suffering. In these cases, the body will have already tried to adapt naturally by reducing the sensitively of receptor sites for any of the hormones which have become more dominant such as oestrogen which is often the case. Again, the body has an inbuilt wisdom which will keeping trying to maintain the correct balance. The technical term for this is called Homeostasis. However, if there is not enough progesterone or oestrogen to quell the body’s natural ‘thirst’ for any of its hormones when they have dropped significantly or the ratio is out of balance, then symptoms will continue relentlessly with no other obvious choice but to suffer or turn to conventional HRT or the contraceptive pill. At these times progesterone supplemented at normal physiological amounts (that which the body normally produces) can help enormously for most women.

It would seem logical that natural progesterone would be the first hormone to supplement with as it is the first to drop to very low levels as a woman nears her menopause and the ovaries are ‘spluttering’ out of eggs. As long as she is having a period, oestrogen is still quite high, but progesterone which is only produced in significant amounts with ovulation is usually very low by this time and her body struggles to balance the still quite high oestrogen levels.

After, menopause when oestrogen drops, progesterone supplementation can be of help as it makes oestrogen and may keep the levels high enough to keep menopausal symptoms at bay, but not high enough to start periods again. If the oestrogen levels have dropped too low even for progesterone to be of help, then supplementing with a good quality and high potency phytoestrogen can make up the difference. This is known as natural HRT and if symptoms are very severe, then a little bio-identical oestrogen can be obtained from your doctor to use with natural progesterone. This is by far the safest combination and when used in the doses the body is used to, poses no risk of further imbalance.

If too much progesterone cream is used on the fatty areas of the body over a prolonged period of time, it can accumulate in those areas and the only risk here would be that the body will try and create homeostasis again. It will do this by ‘tuning down’ or ‘closing off’ receptor sites or in some cases increasing other hormones to match the higher levels of the dominant hormone. This is only the body doing what it does naturally which is to protect itself and the only risk would be that the hormones become less effective creating the same symptoms as before when not using any hormones. It is also important to use the correct areas of the body which is on thin skinned areas of the body where blood vessels show through easily. Avoid all fatty areas.

So when there are clear signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance, it is essential to recreate the correct balance for each individual using the correct physiological amounts of progesterone and, in some cases, a little natural oestrogen if needed.

A practitioner who is experienced with progesterone therapy can help guide you through this period if necessary.