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Bioidentical Progesterone Treatment

Bioidentical Progesterone is growing in popularity right now, and this is no surprise given that Progesterone itself is a building block hormone. This general hormone is used by your body to make other hormones.  The process by which your body naturally makes this hormone is a guide as to how bioidentical progesterone can do the same thing.  Naturally, your body turns cholesterol into something called pregnenolone, a precursor chemical.  This pregnenolone is converted into the regular hormone which again becomes a general building block from which other important chemicals can be derived, including very important DHEA, testosterone and estrogen.

As you may guess, many issues and symptoms can be addressed with natural bioidentical progesterone, given the building block nature of the underlying hormone.  It is used for people of all ages, both men and women, but just like many natural hormones, bioidentical progesterone is used mainly in women experiencing menopause.  Keep in mind that bioidentical progesterone must be carefully given and the assessment beforehand carefully made, since some of the symptoms that people are low in this hormone are similar to other issues.  We cannot diagnose any issue or make any specific recommendation of BHRT for you individually – you need a unique assessment from your own doctor.

Much more can be found at Medline about the Mechanisms of Action of Progesterone

Bioidentical Progesterone Indications

There are really three reasons why a woman would want to pursue bioidentical progesterone treatment:

Bioidentical Progesterone for Aging and menopause:

Progesterone and estrogen need to be balanced in order for a woman to feel her best.  As women age these two hormones can become out of balance, and in those case bioidentical therapy that involves one or the other can provide a helpful fix.  Some symptoms that can be pervasive can corrected by administration of bioidentical progesterone.  Also, when a woman is pursuing BHRT for estrogen deficiency, the addition of natural progesterone can help – and in some cases be necessary.

Natural Bioidentical Progesterone for Supplementation

Women of any age can experience low progesterone that causes anxiety, headaches, insomnia, and thyroid problems.  While for many women these symptoms are brought on by aging, fo others the problems can be caused by food sensitivities, low activity levels, and poor nutrition.  More recently there has been a lot of study of the possibility that chronic stress can be a contributor to low progesterone in adult women.  This issue is related to the production of cortisol, which robs the body of the progesterone it needs.

Lowering Natural Progesterone

While bioidentical progesterone is not the treatment for high levels of this hormone, it should still be noted that this is a reason why people go to a BHRT doctor.  Symptoms ranging from depression, to fatigue, to low libido can be caused by high levels of progesterone.  This natural hormone can be one treatment in these case.

There is a also a larger category of the need for this type of natural hormone replacement and that is called estrogen dominance.  In these cases bioidentical progesterone is used in order to restore and promote balance.  The reasons for overproduction in estrogen range from obesity to stress to ovarian cysts.  In addition some women have difficulty breaking down estrogen and the result is having too much in circulation.  Liver problems, a lack of certain nutrients, and high sugar intake can be causal.  Ovarian cysts or tumors can lead to excess estrogen production. Stress also increases production, but probably the most common cause is obesity. All body fat has an enzyme which converts adrenal steroids to estrogen, so the more fat you have, the more estrogen is present.  Finally, an underproduction of progesterone can lead to having too much estrogen.  Regardless of the reason, relief that can be found by using this natural hormone replacement therapy in this way includes:

  • Decreasing the risk for breast cancer,
  • Improving the symptoms of PMS

Bioidentical Progesterone Benefits

Progesterone works primarily through the ovaries of women and the testes of men. From there is plays a major role, as do many hormones, in body regulation, such as regulating blood sugar, concerting fat into energy, ensuring proper thyroid function, and ensuring proper libido.  People who are low in this hormone – those who are often good candidates for natural hormone replacement therapy in general and progesterone specifically – can become mildly depressed, have trouble sleeping, and have increased stress and susceptibility to sickness. One other specific way this hormone works is activating something called the GABA receptors.  This activation produces a calming effect.

In addition to these major uses, the following bioidentical progesterone benefits have also been noted:

  • Bioidentical progesterone has been said to reduce inflammation and regulate the immune system.
  • While not a primary use, it improves gum health and reduces the chances of gingivitis
  • Bioidentical Progesterone may help preserve skin elasticity
  • Finally, bioidentical progesterone may help preserve bone strength in people who are aging

Bioidentical Progesterone: Administration and Treatment

The great thing about bioidentical progesterone is that it can be copied easily.  The lab-produced chemical is able to work in all the ways detailed above, including creating the other hormones the natural chemical does.  Bioidentical Progesterone can therefore be effective in those who have a natural decline in the production of this chemical.  And another benefit is that it can be administered in several different ways, each one having a different effect in different people.

Bioidentical Progesterone Treatment Course

So whether a person has administration by skin cream, topical gel, or a patch, or the more traditional injection, you may be able to find an alternative if the initial results are not as strong as desired.  (And in fact some people may be looking for a new method of administration if it turns out that they are getting too much.)

Bioidentical Progesterone Assessment

It is often difficult to determine whether a person needs more progesterone and is therefore a candidate for natural hormone replacement therapy from symptoms alone.  Usually some testing is required to see whether this hormone is in a normal range before bioidentical progesterone are considered.  That said, this is a common hormone deficiency, so it is often not surprising that testing shows that Progesterone is lacking.  Other factors that could help your BHRT doctor determine whether this hormone should be part of your natural hormone replacement therapy include family history and other hormones that have been tried.

Monitoring Bioidentical Progesterone

As with most natural hormones, Bioidentical Progesterone starts to work fairly quickly and increases its potency over time before plateauing.  You should follow your doctor’s advice as far as how to assess whether it is working, but in most cases after a little time this should not be a mystery – you should know that it is working.  The symptoms that brought you to this type of treatment, again whether depression, sleep problems, mild anxiety, etc. should get better, and the effect should be strong enough that you don’t question whether it is actually working.  A benefit of this natural hormone is that it is one BHRT approach that can be used by itself – it is not an added treatment or one that requires other natural hormones as well.

Bioidentical Progesterone Interactions

One very important fact is that in some cases women who are taking Estrogen may be given this one as well in order to mitigate some of the unwanted effects of Estrogen.  This natural hormone can have interaction effects with many prescription medication and also some natural supplements (such as St. John’s Wort), and instead of trying to list them comprehensively here we just recommend that you tell your doctor about any and all medications and supplements you are taking.

Bioidentical Progesterone Treatment Coverage

Most natural hormones are not FDA approved and may not be covered by your health insurance plan.  There are, however, some positive exceptions to this rule, and there are forms of bioidentical progesterone that may be approved.  The latest example is a compound called Prometrium.  Like other natural hormones, this formula is made from a natural ingredient you’ve likely heard of: Yams.   Usually this type is taken orally in pill form, and therefore is easy to dose and manage.

For some people, progesterone replacement is the initial course of treatment and that may be all they need, but for others it follows other treatments, such as for low estrogen, in order to produce a greater effect or target symptoms that the original course of BHRT did not effectively address.  This is particularly true in the case of menopause, where symptoms may wax and wane, change over time, and increase in severity.

BodyLogic talks about the chemicals involved so you can decide whether bioidentical progesterone is for you (or whether you may have too much of this hormone).

Conclusion:

Bioidentical progesterone is a powerful treatment for many women whether as an add-on to a course of other natural hormones or by itself, and again it has the advantage of being made from an all-natural ingredient but still sometimes being covered by conventional insurance plans.  The need for this natural hormone may be direct, in that the woman is not getting enough naturally, or indirect as when there is too much estrogen and more progesterone is needed to balance things out.  One way or another if you are experiencing symptoms that match those on this page you should talk to your doctor about bioidentical progesterone.

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