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Progesterone Creams: Maybe not the Best Choice for Premenstrual and Perimenopausal Symptoms

Over-the-counter progesterone creams are a popular treatment for women suffering from premenstrual and perimenopausal symptoms such as tension, bloating, low libido, heavy cycles, inability to lose weight, mood swings, depression and hot flashes. Natural progesterone is derived from plants and is isomolecular to human progesterone.

It is feared; however, that self-medication may lead to overuse and overdose, as well as exacerbation of the symptoms. The use of hormone creams leads to hormone receptor down-regulation, loss of feed-back coordination, increased risk factors associated with elevated hormones, and impairs natural production.

Regular use of hormone creams can lead to tissue saturation and build-up. Hormones are stored in body fat. The more body fat that you have, the more hormones you can store. Because of this, it may take months for hormone levels to regulate even after stopping use.

In our office, we employ salivary hormone tests that measure free-fraction hormone levels. In patients that have used progesterone creams for long periods, we have measured progesterone levels at 5-20 times greater than the physiological range.

I’ve had first-hand experience with this. For curiosity sake I chose to run a hormone profile on myself last fall. To my surprise when I got the lab results back, my progesterone levels were through the roof! At first I had no idea how this could be. My wife at this time was about six months pregnant. Then I remembered that during her 1st trimester, she had used progesterone cream to treat a deficiency. She had applied it to her tummy and forearms where I absorbed it from skin to skin contact. And, it had been several months since she had even used it!

In my opinion, if you are going to use natural progesterone supplementation, it is best to use sublingual formulas. These do not get stored in body fat and do not drastically raise progesterone levels above physiological levels. Sublingual hormones have the same advantages of the cream because they by-pass the liver and are delivered directly into the blood stream.

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