Rethinking Progesterone: Is progesterone over-prescribed?
Nowadays it seems that almost every female patient I have or have had is on a progesterone prescription.
Do you have menstrual cramps? Anxiety? Depression? Don’t feel good? Can’t sleep? Can’t lose weight? It does not even matter what it is, most healthcare providers would suggest you probably have low progesterone, and/or suggest you just need to add a little bit more. Don’t get me wrong, there are times in which a little progesterone might be beneficial but I see women being put on progesterone just because “you might need a little bit more”.
Here are 4 things about progesterone no one ever tells you:
Most premenstrual syndrome (PMS) occurs during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. The luteal phase is when progesterone is the prevalent hormone. We can argue that maybe those who have PMS have low or no progesterone during the luteal hence the PMS symptoms. However, the majority of women experience some form of PMS and there is no way that every single one of them just happens to have low to no progesterone.
2) Leptin Resistance:
During the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, which is dominated by progesterone, women’s physiology shifts to becoming leptin resistant. Leptin is a hormone that provides us with the signal of satiety and tells us “to stop eat eating”. If we are resistant to the signals of leptin we may have a hard time stopping ourselves from reaching for a second or third serving. This can become problematic if you are trying to lose weight and find yourself unable to stop eating.
3) Insulin Resistance:
To add insult to injury, during the luteal phase of the cycle (again, progesterone is dominant), our physiology also becomes more insulin resistant which means that we may experience periods of low blood sugar more frequently, leading us to reach for a cookie. Since we are already leptin resistance, a cookie may become two or five consequently sabotaging any effort you may put into looking your best.
4) Decrease performance at the gym:
Progesterone binds to androgen receptors (think: testosterone = muscle = power = performance) and blocks its message. The result is a decrease in your ability to perform your best at the gym. You may also feel weak and fatigued.
In summary, although there is a time and place for a little progesterone, you may want to rethink if progesterone is truly what you need. I suggest you explore other possibilities if you have been trying to lose weight, decrease the amount of sugar consumption, increase your performance or simply get to the root cause of your PMS.