Progesterone hormone replacement therapy can be beneficial for women who are experiencing decreases in progesterone production because of menopause. Although progesterone decreases significantly during menopause, oestrogen levels can remain high, according to hormone specialist Dr. John R. Lee. This hormone imbalance can put women at risk of breast cancer and other health problems.
Benefits of natural progesterone
In addition to reducing the risk of breast cancer and other forms of cancer, progesterone replacement therapy can provide relief from premenopausal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, weight gain, hot flushes and irregular periods. Progesterone also helps prevent bone loss, metabolise fat and maintain proper oxygen levels in cells. Testimonies from Dr. Lee's website report that use of natural progesterone cream provided relief from migraines and breast tenderness, improved mental clarity and reduced breast fibroids. Dr. Andrew Weil, a practitioner of integrative medicine, reports that although natural and synthetic progesterone are available, many women prefer natural progesterone. Synthetic progesterone can have side effects similar to PMS symptoms, while natural progesterone has been found to have few or no side effects.
Progesterone is commonly used in a cream form, which is available over the counter. The cream should be applied to a different area each time to avoid skin rashes that can develop with overuse on a single site. Dr. Lee's company, Hormones, Etc., endorses a fast-absorbing, non-greasy progesterone cream called ProgesterALL Natural Balancing Cream.
Although studies have shown progesterone cream to be safe, some doctors such as Dr. Weil find these studies to be inconclusive on the cream's effectiveness or long-term safety. Dr. Weil prefers to prescribe oral micronised progesterone, which is available with a prescription under the brand name Prometrium. Oral progesterone can cause drowsiness and should be taken at night. Some forms contain peanut oil and should not be taken by women with peanut allergies.
Keeping hormones balanced
Dr. Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician and leading natural health-care practitioner, also has expressed doubts about the long-term safety of progesterone replacement therapy. He believes that prolonged elevated progesterone levels can lead to other hormone imbalances that pose various health risks. Dr. Mercola recommends using a low-dosage cream with 10 per cent progesterone and mimicking the body's natural cyclical hormone production with changes in concentration.
Because progesterone creams are not controlled by the FDA, the strength of creams --- even those from the same brand --- can vary. MedicineNet.com reports that the limited research available on hormone creams indicates that creams can cause varying hormone levels in different people. Because of this, Dr. Mercola recommends first attempting to regulate hormone levels by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a regular sleep schedule and finding healthy ways to deal with emotional stress.