Progesterone supports healthy menstrual cycles and pregnancy. It balances estrogen, decreasing the risk of endometrial and perhaps breast cancer. It also helps support thyroid function, blood sugar, fluid and mineral balance, as well as helping build bone. Progesterone has a calming effect and enhances mood and sleep. Low progesterone levels can lead to anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, weight gain, heavy periods and decreased libido.
Progesterone levels drop during menopause, leaving estrogen unbalanced. Unfortunately levels can also drop with increased stress levels (high cortisol). Cortisol also blocks progesterone receptors and prevents progesterone from being used effectively in the body. This means that you can be in your early 20s and end up with hormone imbalances that resemble early menopause.
Compounded bioidentical progesterone is the optimal replacement for low levels. Synthetic progestins do not produce the same effect as natural progesterone and stay in the body longer (up to 6 months). This leads to an imbalance with estrogen and also interferes with the body’s own production. Progesterone can be compounded as a cream or as a slow release capsule. Taking progesterone orally is more effective if insomnia is one of the symptoms.