In my last article, "The Truth About Menopause" I told you why I think it is so very
important to balance your hormones. Since I spoke mostly about the female
hormone ‘Estrogen’, I need to speak a little bit more about the other important
female hormone ‘Progesterone’. Sorry guys, this article still addresses mostly
female issues, but if you have a woman in your life you care about, it would be
good for you to know a bit about female health issues too. It does not matter
whether the female is your spouse, girl friend, sister, or mother. In general,
females do not get enough support from males in their lives, which lead to miss
understandings and often make a woman suffer silently. If you show some
interest in your woman’s specific female related health issues, your
communication with her, and a deeper bonding will be almost guaranteed.
You may not
know this, but most women find it very appealing and sexy to have a partner
that takes an interest in their very private female related issues. This not
only deepens the intimacy between two partners, but also creates a strong
support system. Whenever the first symptoms of a health concern arise, it is a
great asset to have a partner that understands and supports a woman in her
journey through her ‘changes’. I have seen it so often; women who are supported
by their partners go through menopause much easier, and even with a sense of
humour, because they don’t have to hide anything.
I would like to see more trust between men and women when it
comes to sharing feelings and health concerns; you may not know how important
this is for a long and healthy life.
Let’s get to today’s
topic, the female hormone ‘Progesterone’. As the name already reveals,
progesterone is ‘pro life’, or life sustaining. It is the hormone that prepares
the lining of the uterus for a possible pregnancy. In every woman’s monthly
cycle, this hormone is present at 2-4 milligrams for about 14 days. Should a
pregnancy occur, the body automatically makes between 200 to 400 milligrams a
day of progesterone. If no egg is fertilized, the production of progesterone
drops drastically, which triggers the shedding of the uterine lining; a woman
menstruates. The importance of progesterone in a woman’s body is not only to
regulate her cycles and protect her from a possible over activity of harmful
estrogens, which can lead to cancer, but there are a multitude of areas where
progesterone is needed.
Progesterone is very
important for the brain; over 60% is actually stored there. It binds to GABA receptors
to maintain a good mood; it acts as a natural antidepressant and anti-anxiety
remedy. It also assists with the natural flow of nerve impulses, thus
preventing short circuits in the nervous system.
Progesterone has a positive effect on the thyroid, increasing
the activity and stimulating the utilization of stored fat being used for
energy. Isn’t this great to know for all you ladies who are concerned with fat
loss? I thought so
Progesterone relaxes muscles, which helps with menstrual
cramps. Progesterone helps bone density and growth by positively affecting the
formation of osteoblast (osteoblast uses calcium to form new bone).
Progesterone protects a woman from breast cancer and
fibroids, and recently has been used with good results on males with prostate
cancer, where it is applied topically (through the skin).
Progesterone increases libido. Often women have a greater
desire to initiate sexual activity prior to ovulation, when the amount of
progesterone is naturally increased for a possible pregnancy.
If you are a woman
in your child bearing age you may have experienced the beautiful effects of
progesterone during your pregnancy in healthier, shiny hair and stronger,
longer nails, together with a healthy glow in your skin. This is mainly due to
the maximum level of progesterone during pregnancy. Sadly these wonderful
benefits reverse after the birth of the baby.
Thinning hair, thinner, more wrinkled skin, weaker nails,
and all the above mentioned conditions are also typical in a menopausal woman
where progesterone in below the normal amount of 100-300 pg/ml.
If a woman has
excess estrogen and low progesterone levels, her risk of cancer increases quite
a bit. Balance of all hormones is crucial. Each hormone usually has a
counterpart hormone that regulates its correct function. The ratio of free
estrogen to free progesterone are about 1 to 20, making progesterone about 20
times higher than estrogen in a healthy woman’s second half of her menstrual
cycle. In menopausal women, progesterone declines before estrogen does, which
is responsible for many health problems in her life.
There are many
factors that can create an imbalance in hormones, which include bad diets,
sedative life styles, exposure to external estrogens, late childbirth, and especially
stress. We often underestimate the role of excess stress on hormone balance.
I will continue with
hormonal discussions that include both genders in upcoming articles throughout
the remainder of this year.
Christie ND is the
managing director of Radiant Health Center