Recently, we talked a lot about estrogen – both low levels and when it’s in excess – and how it can be problematic. If you missed those posts – see the links at the bottom of this post.
Estrogen gets a lot of attention – but progesterone is also extremely important for good health and balanced hormones.
Progesterone is a steroid hormone that is mostly made in the ovaries of cycling women, and it is also made in the adrenal glands of both men and women in lesser amounts.
For women, it’s supposed to be at its peak about ¾ the way through the monthly cycle – usually about 5-7 days after ovulation. This is during something called the “luteal phase”.
For a woman who has a 28-day cycle, that would be around days 19-21. For shorter cycles, take away days and for longer, add days.
This is a rough sketch of what this looks like:
✅ Stabilizes your mood
✅ Relieves anxiety
✅ Promotes deep sleep
✅ Soothes your nervous system
✅ Balances out estrogen
✅ Reduces inflammation
✅ Nourishes a pregnancy
✅ Regulates immune function
✅ Supports the thyroid, brain, bones, and breast tissue
As you can see, this hormone, while not talked about as much, is super important for so many areas of our bodies.
A couple of weeks ago, I talked about estrogen dominance – it’s super important that progesterone is strong enough to balance out estrogen, because even if estrogen is at “normal” levels and progesterone is weak, then estrogen dominance can happen.
Lower levels of progesterone are far more common than high.
There are many symptoms associated with low progesterone, including:
Now, even if you tick many of the boxes for these symptoms…
…you do NOT want to run out and get yourself some progesterone drops or creams to try to raise your progesterone levels.
Because you’re just guessing that low progesterone is the cause of these symptoms.
Plus, adding in hormones should be the LAST thing we add in, not the first – even though it’s often the first thing suggested to us.
Low progesterone levels are not the ONLY root of these health concerns – they might be playing a part but may not be the only thing. Plus, you don’t know for sure if you have it without doing proper testing!
What you do want to do is get curious – what’s causing progesterone to be low?
First, note that as we age, progesterone is the 1st hormone to decline (which is why estrogen dominance is very common), then estrogen, then testosterone. So if you’re noticing these things pop up as you’re getting older, that could be one reason why.
But there are many other potential reasons for less-than-adequate progesterone levels. That’s why I say that you want to figure out the WHY behind low progesterone rather than just trying to spot-treat using progesterone drops or creams right away.
These reasons can include one or a combination of any of these:
reSo what do you do if you suspect you have low progesterone?
As I mentioned yesterday, we don’t want to run out and buy a bunch of creams or drops and start using hormones as the first step. Trying to be as natural as possible to start is best.
So there’s a 3-step approach I recommend:
When it comes to supplementation – unless symptoms are extremely severe, it is usually best to start by addressing dietary and lifestyle factors first.
- eating healthy fats and foods rich in Vitamin B6, Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin C, and L-arginine
- seed cycling
- reducing exercise if you are over-exercising
- reducing both internal and external stressors
- removing gluten
- avoiding caffeine, alcohol and sugar
Because a woman’s cycle only resets once per month, and what we do today will impact what happens with our NEXT cycle, give these a few cycles to see how they go.
All of these are not only beneficial for progesterone, but also long-term overall health.
If those changes don’t improve symptoms, then you could try progesterone-promoting herbal formulas.
Again, give these a couple of cycles to see how they work for you.
Finally, if none of those work, then move on to bioidentical hormones.
All too often, I see that hormones are the first thing that is tried, when, really, that should be the last.
When it comes to supporting the body through supplementation and trying bioidentical hormones, you really want to know for sure that there’s an imbalance.
That’s why I always say…
Test, don’t guess.
Otherwise, you could be making things worse.
For example, some people need certain vitamins and minerals and other people don’t need them. So if you just blindly supplement or take hormones, then you’re really just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.
And that can be a frustrating and long experience.
That’s why I run labs on all of my clients. We want to really understand the root of what’s going on so we can create a targeted plan focused on your unique needs rather than just implementing a one-size-fits-all approach.
If you’re tired of dealing with your symptoms and trying random things, then reply to this email.
Let’s make 2021 the year you truly thrive!
As promised at the top of this post, here are links to learn more about estrogen imbalances:
- How to tell if you have estrogen dominance & what to do about it
- How to tell if you have LOW estrogen levels