Hot Flashes or PMS? Progesterone to the Rescue


Dear Pharmacist,
I met you at a book signing, and didn’t want to hold up the line to elaborate on my health concerns. You said I should not be taking “unopposed estrogen” and I don’t know what that means. If you recall, I’m post-menopausal, I had a hysterectomy, and my doctor prescribes estradiol tablets.  –L.Y., Baltimore, Maryland

Answer: I do recall saying that. It scares me that millions of women are taking unopposed estrogen medications (meaning, estrogen therapy without any natural progesterone to go with it). Excess estrogen has been linked to breast cancer and other hormonally-driven disorders.

Natural progesterone balances estrogen, and is sold without prescription at health food stores, as a skin cream. I feel strongly that no woman should EVER be taking unopposed estrogen meds, even if she has had her uterus removed. Of course, everyone reading this should get physician approval to use progesterone, because my opinion columns are intended for educational purposes, not advice.  

Sadly, some physicians insist that women who do not have a uterus (ie hysterectomy) no longer need progesterone, so they only prescribe estrogen drugs. This is short-sighted because there are progesterone receptors ALL OVER THE BODY, not just in the reproductive organs. So even if you have your uterus removed, other organs are left starving for progesterone! It supports healthy bones, breasts, heart, liver and brain tissue in both men and women. Progesterone protects the breasts, and may relieve fibrocystic breast pain and reduce risk of breast cancer, studies prove it. This hormone may improve sleep, anxiety and cholesterol levels. Remarkably, progesterone feeds the brain, and a new study points to it’s benefit during the first few hours after a stroke.

Natural progesterone is not the same thing as progestin drugs like methoxyprogesterone, which is sold by prescription. The medications are not bio-identical to what your body makes, and there are no receptor sites on your cells that exactly match the drugs. Because synthetic drugs are not bio-identical, there is a higher risk of side effects. Your local pharmacist can explain more. What you learn about progestin drugs does not at all apply to bio-identical, natural progesterone hormone.

When you take unopposed estrogen, you could tilt yourself, hormonally-speaking, and wind up  with excess estrogen, a condition termed “estrogen dominance” or “progesterone deficiency.” Symptoms in post-menopausal women include anxiety, depression, irritability, hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, insomnia, bone loss or low sex drive. In pre-menopausal women, you might expect PMS, breast tenderness, migraines, fibroids, mood swings, bloating, or heavy periods. Using progesterone cream properly is critical. Application depends on your age and menstrual cycle. It’s too complicated to get into here. I’ve explained progesterone usage, and outlined other natural ways to support hormone health in my ebook, “Breast/Prostate Cancer Protection” sold at my website.

Did You Know?  
A new study suggests that drinking three cups of regular coffee per day may reduce risk of basal skin carcinoma by up to 20 percent.


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