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Menopause and Natural Progesterone

Kelly Grimes

Outline: Click on the topic you wish to see

Menopause and You
Menopausal Symptoms
Natural Progesterone
Natural Progesterone and Osteoporosis
The Difference Between Natural Progesterone and Synthetic Progestin
Benefits and Risks Involved with Estrogen Replacement Therapy
Natural Progesterone and Estrogen

Menopause and You

Are you currently faced with the onset of menopause? Do you wish there was more information available on how to stay healthy during this dramatic changing phase in your life? Congratulations! You have found the answer source for your hesitant questions regarding menopause. You are probably not alone in your quest; the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) believes that over one-third of the women in the United States are over the age of 50 ( The onset of menopause in women from the Baby Boomer generation- those born after World War II- is increasing rapidly (Samisioe,1992).

Despite its connotations, menopause should not be a cause for alarm or a message signaling that your prime years of life are over. Thanks to medical advancements, life expectancy has increased considerably for women (Lindheim et al., 1992). As a result of recent medical research, women have a wealth of menopause-related information at their fingertips. However, menopause is a dramatic changing phase in a woman's body, and the symptoms involved cannot be ignored.

Menopausal Symptoms

Menopausal symptoms include depression, hot flashes, and weight gain. More serious symptoms include osteoporosis, endometriosis, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. (Samsioe, 1992) These symptoms are the result of a woman's inability to produce hormones at the onset of menopause.

Two of the body's naturally-occurring hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are vital for the maintenance of good health. When these hormones are no longer produced at the onset of menopause, they must be replenished, but in balanced amounts. Estrogen replacement is beneficial for symptoms of depression and for coping skills. It is also known to increase blood flow and to possibly improve carbohydrate metatbolism.(Lindheim et. al. 1992) Progesterone acts as a regulator for the entire endocrine system, has an important role in nerve function, and works as a mild antidepressant. It also controls estrogen dominance. (

Estrogen dominance results from a lack of progesterone in the body. The effects include increased body fat, decreased libido, increased risk of breast cancer and endometrial cancer, and infertility.(

What treatments are safe and effective for the symptoms of menopause? Conventional treatments include calcium and vitamin D supplements, dietary changes, herbs, acupuncture, as well as estrogen replacement therapy. Estrogen replacement therapy is widely used but has numerous side-effects. Natural progesterone is a recently discovered treatment that relieves the symptoms of menopause without any harmful side-effects.(Lee, 1991)

Natural Progesterone

The body's source of hormonal progesterone is the corpus luteum, where it is produced after ovulation to level the side-effects of estrogen. When ovulation no longer occurs, the body lacks progesterone and health complications may arise due to estrogen dominance.

From studies held in the 1940's, the Mexican yarn extract, diosgenin, was matched to have the same chemical structure as progesterone. ( The extract was developed into a cream so that the hormone can enter the bloodstream transdermally. The cream is then stored in fatty tissues for use as required by the body. The cream may also contain vitamin E, aloe vera, herbal extracts, and chamomile (

This alternative method of hormone replacement during menopause has only recently found popularity. Betty Kamen, Ph.D writes

"Reports of improved well-being with the use of transdermal natural progesterone are impressive. Less anxiety and depression, increased vitality and reduced sleep disturbances- not to mention enhanced sexual libido are benefits of a product with a track record of safety!" (

Natural progesterone can be taken transdermally as well as orally in pill-form, but according to Dr. Stevenson and colleagues' report, transdermal versus oral replacement therapy is preferred. A considerable amount of the hormone is lost through the liver in the oral route (Lee, 1990) Experimentation with natural progesterone as a nasal spray and an intramuscular injection has recently been observed by Cicinelli and colleagues (Cicinelli et al., 1993). The nasal method seemed to be a more realistic means of administering a dosage of natural progesterone. However, further studies were required at that time to support its clinical use.

Despite the abundance of research on this alternative treatment, studies have already proven natural progestcrone to be effective in the prevention and reversal of osteoporosis.

Natural Progesterone and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is the most common bone disorder in the United States. It causes more than a million fractures a year, estimated at an annual cost of $10 billion (Lee, 1991). Dr. Lee followed 100 post-menopausal women with the average time from menopause being 16 years. The majority of this group had already noticed height loss and/or experienced a fracture. Lee's treatment goals were relief of osteoporotic pains, reduction in number of fractures, and bone density improvements. Dr. Lee's treatment included a healthy diet regime and 330-500 mg of progesterone per month. The 100 patients were followed for a minimum of 3 years. The program Lee's patient's followed included progesterone cream as well as a low protein high vegetable diet, modest exercise, and vitamin supplementation. The entire group was found to have stabilized height loss, relief of aches and pains, and no incidence of fractures. No side-effects were found. (Lee, 1991)

The Difference Between Natural Progesterone and Synthetic Progestin

Women nowadays find it extremely difficult to access information on natural medicines for menopause. These medicines are non-patentable and unfortunately, the system is only interested in patents because they mean profits for pharmaceutical companies and further research ( Last year, a product known as PREMPRO and PREMPHASE was introduced and approved by the FDA. it combines estrogen and synthetic progesterone- "progestin" or "progestogen"- in one tablet, instead of the previous two. However, the drug is risky and may cause serious side effects. Studies have shown, however, that it is even riskier for women to take estrogen alone, without even synthetic progesterone supplements.

Synthetic progestogens have been used to copy the beneficial effects of natural progesterone. Neils H. Laursen, M.D., of New York's Mt. Sinai Medical Center, advises that synthetic progestogens may inhibit the concentration of the body's natural progesterone, so hormone imbalances are worsened. Synthetic progcstogens also reduce a woman's blood sugar level because of their inability to convert to corticostcroids, which are substances that regulate blood sugar metabolism. (

According to a study done in 1985 by U.B. Ottosson, B.G. Johansson, and B. von Schoultz, micronized progesterone may turn out to be a welcome alternative to synthetic progestins in clinical practice(Ottosson et al., 1985).

Benefits and Risks Involved with Estrogen Replacement Therapy

In this present day and age, estrogen is widely prescribed by gynecologists and physicians to eliminate the symptoms of menopause. Yet without knowing background research on this drug, women are putting themselves at risk. The benefits of estrogen are widely circulated and loudly proclaimed. Data from experimentation concludes that estrogen reduces cardiovascular disease by 50%. In the Leisure World Study, Paganni-Hill et al., and Henderson et al., showed that women who previously experienced stroke or heart attack benefitted greatly from estrogen therapy. (Sainsioe,1992) In a study held by Lindheim et al., their data strongly suggests that estrogen improves psychological function in postmenopausal women (Lindheim et al., 1992).

There is also substantial evidence that the long-term use of potent estrogen hormones causes breast cancer. A prospective study of 23,244 women conducted bv Bergkvist et al. resulted in the development of breast cancer in 253 of the women. Along with this conclusion, the study also offered the suggestion that the addition of progestin to eliminate estrogen dominance gave no protection against the development of breast cancer. (Bergkvist et al., 1989)

Studies have shown that estrogen increases the risk of endometrial cancer, due to the addition of progestin to the estrogen replacement therapy. Women arc also subject to vaginal bleeding. (Sarnsioe, 1992)

Natural Progesterone and Estrogen

If a woman wants to convert from estrogen replacement therapy to natural progesterone cream, it is recommended by physicians that intake of supplements must be cut down gradually. If a woman decides to stay with estrogen therapy because she feels that the benefits outweigh the proven risks, then it should be clear that natural progesterone is the right choice rather than synthetic progestins.

Obviously, there is more conclusive data on the use of estrogen than progesterone as a hormone replacement during, and after, menopause. Yet the fact remains that estrogen holds potential health risks. Experimental data, although scarce, has yet to show any health dangers in using natural progesterone. There is not an abundance of medical acknowledgment or support for this treatment, yet I, as well as others who are familiar with it, have high hopes that natural progesterone will finally be seen as the method of choice for menopause relief. If interested in the product Yamcon (a natural progesterone crram), it can be ordered from Phillips Nutritionals at 800-514-5115 (


Bergkvist, L., Adami, H.O., Persson, I., Hoover, R., and Schairer, C. (1989). The risk of breast cancer after estrogen and estrogen-progestin replacement. The New England Journal of Medicine, 321, 293-297.

Cicinelli, E., Savino, F., Cagnazzo, I., Scorcia, P. (1993). Comparative study of progesterone plasma levels after nasal spray and intramuscular administration of natural progesterone in menopausal women. Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, 35, 172-174.

Lee, J.R. (1990) Osteoporosis reversal with transdermal progesterone. Lancet, 336, 1327.

Lee, J.R.(1991). Is natural progesterone the missing link in osteoporosis prevention and treatment? Medical Hypotheses, 35, 316-318.

Lindheim, S., Legro, R., Bernstein, L., Stanczyk, F., Vijod, M., Presser, S., and Lobo, R. (1992) Behavioral stress responses in premenopausal and postmenopausal women and the effects of estrogen. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 167, 1831-1836.

Ottosson, U.B., Johansson, B.G., von Schoultz, B. (1985). Subfractions of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol during estrogen replacement therapy: A comparison between progestogens and natural progesterone. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 151, 746-750.

Samsioe, G. (1992) Hormone replacement therapy. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 166, 1980-1985.





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