Most women know something about the hormone estrogen, and oftentimes people hear about estrogen along with progesterone, making them sound like an inseparable pair with regard to women’s health. But what exactly is progesterone, and how does it help some women?
Firstly, let’s start with a a definition: Progesterone is a steroidal hormone which counterbalances estrogen dominance. Its counterbalancing properties are the reason progesterone is used to balance out women’s hormones for a variety of conditions.
Why Prescribe It?
Here’s a list of conditions for which progesterone might be prescribed:
1. Fertility – In order for a pregnancy to take hold, the burgeoning, tiny embryo (known as a blastocyst) must implant securely into the inner uterine wall (endometrium) approximately one week after ovulation. Those who have recurring, very early miscarriages (called “chemical pregnancies”) are sometimes prescribed progesterone in order to increase the chances of healthy blastocyst implantation.
2. Menstruation – Progesterone can lower PMS symptoms, regulate irregular cycles, and combat heavy period bleeding.
3. Perimenopause – Perimenopause is the time period during which periods become irregular, leading up to full cessation of menstruation, or menopause. When perimenopause begins, estrogen increases enough to stop the period. However, this higher ratio of estrogen (aka “estrogen dominance”), if gone unopposed, can create a stronger risk for breast cancer and female-organ (uterine, cervical, and ovarian) cancers. Therefore, progesterone is prescribed in order to counterbalance the loss of estrogen.
4. Overall health. The following conditions are also associated with low progesterone:
-Lessened bone density, a marker for osteoporosis
-Mood swings and depression
If you experience any of the above symptoms or conditions, make an appointment with you OB/GYN. They might prescribe progesterone for you, and either way, you need their care for best advice on remedying your situation.