What is Progesterone?

Progesterone is the most important member of steroid hormones called progestogens. In women, it is mainly secreted by the corpus luteum in the ovaries during the second half of the menstrual cycle. It plays important roles in the menstrual cycle and in pregnancy. Progesterone is also made in smaller quantities by the adrenal glands and the placenta during pregnancy.

Men also have progesterone, produced by their adrenal glands and testes. Men need progesterone to make testosterone. It also aids in spermiogenesis (sperm maturation) and sperm capacitation (sperm changes necessary for egg fertilization).

Types of Progesterone

Progesterone is not only available as a natural hormone produced by the body, but also as a bioidentical hormone. Bioidentical hormones, isolated from plant materials, have the exact chemical and molecular structure as hormones made in the human body, setting compounded bioidentical progesterone apart from other types of lab-made hormones .

Synthetic versions of progesterone are known as progestins. There are many different types, created from progesterone, testosterone, and spironolactone. Due to their chemical makeup, progestins may attach to more than just progesterone receptors in the body By interacting with hormone receptors differently, such as binding to androgen, estrogen, and adrenal hormone receptors, the potential for side effects may grow. Compounded bioidentical progesterone behaves like natural progesterone, bringing out the body’s essential response.

Who May Benefit From Progesterone Replacement?

Progesterone supplementation may be a beneficial treatment for:
Menstruating women with low progesterone levels

Low levels of progesterone can cause abnormal periods or infertility. Expected levels of progesterone in premenopausal women at the beginning of their menstrual cycle are typically 1 nanogram per milliliter(ng/mL) or less. Expected levels for women in the middle of their menstrual cycle range from about 5 to 20 ng/mL. Supplementing women with progesterone may help restart menstrual periods that unexpectedly stop, (amenorrhea), address abnormal uterine bleeding due to hormonal imbalance, and combat severe symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The causes of low progesterone levels can include a natural aging, diet deficiency (a lack of vitamins B and C or zinc), stress, or irregular ovary function.

Perimenopausal and menopausal women on hormone replacement therapy

Postmenopausal women generally have less than 1ng/ml of progesterone. These low levels are the normal result of the ovaries ceasing to function with age. However, when women begin estrogen therapy for uncomfortable symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, adding progesterone therapy may help protect against the effects of elevating estrogen alone (estrogen dominance).

Men with low hormone levels

The typical amount of progesterone is less than 1 ng/mL for a man. However, men need some progesterone to produce testosterone. Testosterone is necessary for sex drive, sperm production, muscle mass/strength, fat distribution, bone density, and red blood cell production. Testosterone replacement, however, can sometimes cause estrogen dominance in men, because some testosterone is naturally converted to estrogen in the body. Progesterone may protect men from the effects of estrogen dominance, including fatigue, low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, mood swings, increased belly fat, and a greater prostate cancer risk.

Men and women with central nervous system conditions

Progesterone is also important in protecting nerve and brain function in men and women. It has been found to produce a calmer mood, help with midlife insomnia, promote a sense of satiation after eating, increase dopamine-controlled signaling, and even promote brain and nerve repairin diabetic or autoimmune induced peripheral neuropathy..

How Belmar Can Help

If you’re a clinician interested in prescribing compound medications to your patients, contact us for information on how to get started and to access all of our clinical resources. If you are new to compounding, you may find our page on How to Write a Compounding Prescription helpful. You can also visit our Treatment Options page to find a formulary and learn more about all the medication solutions available from Belmar.