Leg cramps, sudden intensely painful involuntary contractions of one or more leg muscles, may be a result of progesterone deficiency or decreased progesterone as you approach menopause. Progesterone manages calcium metabolism and the production of energy in muscle cells. Synthetic progesterone in birth control pills or used in hormone therapy for menopause may cause leg cramps. Leg cramps are usually mild and disappear with proper hydration, diet and exercise.
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Progesterone is related to muscle mass and energy. Progesterone deficiency produces energy deficits in leg muscle cells, causing them to contract or spasm. These energy-deficient muscle cells may act as trigger points activating spasms in other muscles. Dr. John Lowe explains that progesterone has anti-inflammatory effects and causes the release of thyroid hormones. Progesterone regulates cellular and systemic water retention and is involved in production and degradation of collagen in the knee joint.
Muscle Tension in Knee Joints
An NIH study of the effects of progesterone on recovery from knee replacement therapy found that tension and relaxation of the knee joint is directly related to serum progesterone. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is frequently damaged or torn by athletes during sudden hyperextension of the knee. The ACL, one of four major ligaments in the knee, is attached to the lower end of the femur in the upper leg, and its fibres ascend to the top of the tibia in the lower leg. The ACL helps move the lower leg in coordination with the upper leg bone. An NIH study about sex hormones found progesterone receptors on the human ACL. Women are eight times more likely than men to damage their ACL because women have smaller and weaker ligaments and tend to use the muscles of their upper legs while men use their lower legs.
Leg cramps during pregnancy result from progesterone deficiency. Progesterone is the principal hormone that manages homeostasis in the uterus. Dr. John Lee explains that progesterone makes the endometrium of the uterus receptive to the ova and ready for the embryo. Progesterone manages the production of insulin during pregnancy to prevent miscarriage. Release of progesterone determines when the baby will be delivered. Progesterone plays a major role in premature births. During pregnancy progesterone is diverted from the mother's legs to the womb, affecting the calcium metabolism and energy in the muscle cells of the mother's legs. Nocturnal leg cramps may be the result of a potassium or calcium deficiency, or the lack of blood flow into the lower legs.
Dr. John Lee, author of a breakthrough book about natural progesterone, discusses progesterone hormone therapy used by men to develop muscle mass and strength. Eight to 10 mg of progesterone cream prevents prostate problems in men. Dr. John Lee says that progesterone opposes oestrogen in women, and is necessary for nerve health and function. Dr. Lee recommends 100 mg of progesterone per day for women with fibromyalgia.
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