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The Dance Partners - Progesterone Spotlight



Progesterone can be thought of as the cool, calm and collected hormone and if you are a woman its production is something we really want to help support from our teens.

Progesterone plays a part in maintaining the lining of the endometrium in the second stage of the menstrual cycle – estrogen lays it down and progesterone holds it in place.



Progesterone also acts as a natural anti-depressant, an anti-anxiety agent, and it is a diuretic.

Once a female has started to menstruate, the main place she makes progesterone from is her ovaries, but this only happens after she has ovulated – progesterone is made from the crater that remains on the surface of the ovary (the corpus luteum) after the egg has been released.

If she is not ovulating because the pituitary-ovarian communication axis is not working, or due to relentless cortisol production, nutrient deficiencies, or taking the Pill (to name just a few reasons), then the body is not able to make this monthly supply of progesterone and she misses out on all of its benefits.


A woman also will make progesterone from the adrenal glands; however, it will only do so if the body believes she is “safe”.

So, back to the hormonal hierarchy and here it is in action - If a woman is 'stressed' pumping out adrenaline and cortisol then her body will get the message that her life is in danger and that it is going into famine times (because historically that’s what these two stress hormones have communicated to the body).

Furthermore, the female body links progesterone to fertility (because most of it is made after ovulation), so the last thing it wants is to bring a baby into a world where it perceives she is not safe and where there is no food. So, the body is likely to shut down the adrenal production of progesterone, thinking it is doing her a massive favour.

It is common for infertility to come about because of this and also now because of no or low progesterone production the woman is likely to experience low mood, anxieties, headaches before her bleed, PMS, increased inflammation and fluid retention to name a few of the issues associated when progesterone isn't in action.


When women are in their 30s, progesterone levels can begin to decline. In their 40s, progesterone drops further and then falls off sharply after menopause.

 

Progesterone decline actually begins before estrogen, so many hormonal side effects and symptoms middle aged women feel are actually due to progesterone insufficiency (and later deficiency).

We know already that estrogen and progesterone must balance each other. Ignoring one and treating the other in isolation will create hormone dysregulation and further imbalance.

 

 

Lower progesterone levels are a natural part of aging. To keep hormones in a healthy balance as we age, we need to focus on gut health, thyroid health, sugar regulation, stress reduction, and appropriate nutrition. While progesterone, and other sex hormones, will still naturally lower, all of these health and lifestyle factors will help maintain hormonal balance.

The question always comes back to "Are they dancing together?"

You can have lower levels of hormones, still feel great, and have vibrant health, if your hormones are balanced.


Why is Progesterone Important?

Progesterone has many functions. Some of them are:

 

  • Promotes healthy sleep

  • Lowers cortisol 

  • Supports bone strength

  • Prevents anxiety

  • Supports mood stability

  • Helps with bladder function

  • Lowers risk of breast cancer

  • Fights inflammation

  • Thickens hair on the scalp

  • Improves metabolic rate for healthy weight

  • Improves immune function

Estrone (E1) is converted to a safer, inactive form of E1 sulfur by progesterone. This is important because other metabolites (breakdown products) of estrone can be cancer-causing and inflammatory. Progesterone helps prevent the creation of these metabolites.


Ways to support progesterone production

  • Implement stress management techniques but supporting oxytocin - do the things you love, spending time in nature, time with friends and loved ones, run a nice warm bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil to enhance relaxation and magnesium for muscle relaxation, a daily breath-focused practice, yin yoga, prayer and meditation, journaling  

  • Increase progesterone supporting food sources of zinc (oysters, red meat, eggs, seeds), selenium (Brazil nuts), magnesium (green leafy vegies, nuts, seeds), and vitamin B6 (beef liver, fish, poultry, chickpeas, green leafy vegies, bananas) and regular safe sun exposure for vitamin D

  • Refrain from using backlit devices such as TVs, computers, smartphones, and tablets for 90 minutes prior to sleep as these emit sleep-disturbing blue light.


How to test if you suspect you might have an Progesterone issue

The DUTCH test is the most comprehensive way to evaluate sex hormones function, as it evaluates metabolites and biomarkers derived from estrogens, progesterone, and androgens.

It is taken via urine sample multiple times during the day to gain reliable data.

I offer the DUTCH test at the Live Wild Studio for clients who need support with sex hormone balance or infertility concerns.


I hope you can now feel empowered to support progesterone levels and can recognize why it plays a vital aspect of maintaining vibrancy and well-being.

By reducing stress (real or perceived) incorporating supportive foods, engaging in regular enjoyable exercise, taking care of the hormones above progesterone in the hierarchy and being mindful of its dance partner estrogen, you can take meaningful steps towards balancing this essential hormone.

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