Progesterone 101 … What is it and what does it do?

Progesterone and Estrogen are the two major sex hormones that affect women.  How we look, how we feel, how we act even.  Progesterone is the key hormone during pregnancy and affects everything from PMS to sleepless nights.
Estrogen and Progesterone are always engaged in a dance of sorts.  When in balance we are emotionally stable, have more energy, have a stronger libido and are healthier in many ways.  But when out of balance … look out world.  Especially the men in our lives.
When progesterone levels drop too low, the result is estrogen dominance which can result in rage, headache, cysts, miserable periods and sleep disorders.  When levels are too high or too low, they can result in a range of problems such as gaining excess fat, becoming very moody, developing endometriosis, experiencing uterine bleeding, possibly even cancer.    When you have too much estrogen, you have a greater risk of infertility and endometrial cancer.  Proportionate balance is the goal.
Progesterone helps us feel “balanced”.  It raises our body temperature and helps boost metabolism.  It helps thyroid perform efficiently.  It’s a natural diuretic which helps us release excess fluid in our bodies.  The metabolite allo-pregnanolone (think of progesterone as mother and allo-pregnanolone as the daughter) helps keep us from becoming cranky, stressed, irritable, insomniac.  Her sudden departure is the main cause of PMS.
When levels are in balance, the following happens:
  • Your periods become regulated.  They’re normal with no spotting or flooding.
  • Your weight remains stable throughout your cycle.  No see-sawing of 5 or 10 pounds throughout the month.
  • Sleep becomes a non-issue because you’re sleeping through the night without night sweats, waking up or insomnia.
  • Your relationships become more stable because you’re more emotionally stable.
  • Your libido is strong and you feel confident and sexy.
  • After menopause, estrogen and progesterone are in a perfect tango with no breast tenderness.
We’ll discuss what happens when progesterone levels become too high or too low next week.

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