If herbs and other natural remedies aren’t quite doing the job to cool your hot flashes, mellow your mood swings, or to relieve other symptoms of (peri)menopause – but you’re not quite ready to get synthetic HRT – there is a middle path.
Have you tried out natural progesterone cream?
You may have experimented already with a few herbal therapies to steady out those hormone swings, such as maca or vitex, especially if you’ve been following along with my Power Surge series.
Herbal formulations often offer some level of relief, sometimes eliminating the need for anything else. Natural progesterone cream, however, definitely bumps things up a notch.
I found this out way before perimenopause hit. Since many of the women who visited my herb shop were 10-20 years older than me, I got a good dose of what to expect when my hormones started doing their perimenopausal dance.
While in my mid-30’s (right around when the first baby boomers were turning 50), I saw an influx of 40-something women requesting information, books and herbs for menopause and perimenopause. The herbalists I admired began writing on the subject, and suddenly I was stocking fewer books about natural pregnancy and child rearing, and more on menopausal wisdom.
I read these books and I helped hundreds of women put together herbal formulas to address their symptoms.
At the store we began getting requests for natural progesterone cream – specifically the one made by Emerita. Some of these requests were triggered a popular book of the era, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, by Dr.John R. Lee – still a good read today, as is the companion, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause: Balance Your Hormones and Your Life From Thirty to Fifty.
Despite entire books devoted to the subject, most of the progesterone cream requests were coming in due to word of mouth. Apparently this stuff worked – and fast.
We went through dozens of tubes every month in the store. It got hard to keep it on the shelves. I can remember one woman holding the box in her hand with reverence when we got it back in stock. Thanking me from the bottom of her heart.
That was all more than a decade ago, and I filed that information away in my brain for future reference. Progesterone cream might do the trick when nothing else will.
Wait A Minute – Don’t I Need Estrogen, Not Progesterone?
We always hear about how our dropping estrogen levels are responsible for hot flashes and other symptoms. How the heck does progesterone cream work to relieve menopausal woes?
Progesterone levels plummet at menopause even more than estrogen levels. This can affect us in so many areas beyond the typical physical discomforts that signal the change of life.
Progesterone is a precursor to estrogen (as to a lesser degree it is a precursor to testosterone in males.) It is also a precursor to many other important hormones, including those which reduce stress and normalize blood sugar levels.
A decline is progesterone levels is one of the first hormonal changes that cause symptoms for women approaching menopause. That’s why supplementing with progesterone is particularly helpful for perimonenopausal years.
And progesterone actually has a balancing effect on estrogen. When this hormone becomes less plentiful, then estrogen will dominate, which causes all sorts of yucky symptoms. It’s important to remember that ‘estrogen dominance’ doesn’t mean you have too much estrogen. It simply means that the levels are way higher than progesterone, which creates an imbalance with all those nasty side effects.
Therefore, supplementing with progesterone can bring these two hormones back into balance, thus alleviating many of those symptoms.
Many doctors and medical experts have noted that regular use of USP grade progesterone cream can be effective for such (peri)menopausal symptoms as:
- Declining sex drive
- Vaginal dryness, and overall skin dryness
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Unstable blood sugar
- Heavy and painful periods
- Irregular periods in the years leading to menopause
- Fibrocystic breasts and/or breast swelling and tenderness
- Migraine headaches (triggered by hormonal changes)
Of course if you’re eating Fruit Loops for dinner and your idea of exercise is getting up to look for the remote, you may experience less than stellar results. Progesterone cream, like anything else, will work best along with a sensible nutrition and exercise regime.
NOTE: If you have or have had breast cancer, it’s best to consult with your oncologist before using progesterone cream. Although there is a general concensus today that the substance is safe for breast cancer survivors, this can vary from individual to individual.
What Exactly Is Natural Progesterone Cream?
Natural hormone treatments are known as ‘bioidentical’ hormones, meaning that the molecular structure is identical to the form that is naturally produced in the body. The body can accept a bioidentical substance much more easily than one that has been synthetically produced.
USP progesterone comes from plant fats and oils, often from a substance called diosgenin which is extracted from a certain type of Mexican wild yam, or from soybeans. In the laboratory diosgenin is chemically synthesized into real human progesterone.
The low dose 2% USP topical cream (such as that made by Emerita) is what most medical practitioners recommend. Emerita Pro-Gest cream contains 20 mg. of USP progesterone per 1/4 teaspoon – the recommended dosage.
Is Wild Yam Cream The Same Thing?
You may have heard that you can substitute wild yam cream for the more expensive bioidentical progesterone creams. This is a myth. You will definitely NOT get the same results by using any of the various wild Mexican yam creams on the market.
Although this wild yam contains a precursor to progesterone, this does not activate when applied to the skin. Unfortunately the only way that this Mexican wild yam can be converted to progesterone is in a laboratory setting.
Sure you might get some milder beneficial results from the phytoestrogens present in the wild yam cream. But if you are looking for the more noticeable symptom relief reported by hundreds of thousands of women, you need to get laboratory grade USP progesterone cream.
How To Use Progesterone Cream
This stuff is easy to use – simply rub 1/4 teaspoon into your skin twice per day. Often I see recommendations to alternate what section of the body to rub it into, and to do it on a ‘fattier’ part, such as thighs or buttocks. But then other experts recommend simply rubbing it into your hands. I think it works either way.
Important: You must take one week off per month!
Topical progesterone cream is meant to simulate the hormone your body would naturally produce. In this case, it is aligned with the menstrual cycle. Therefore, use the cream regularly for three weeks and take one week off. If you are still menstruating on a monthly basis, follow your menstrual cycle and stop using the cream on Day One of your period, and then resume after seven days.
If you are no longer bleeding, or your periods have become erratic, use the cream for 21 days, and then take one week off. Count that first day off as Day One of your period. After seven days, resume using the cream. If your period does start during that time, once again stop using the cream for seven days. Let’s not mess with the body’s natural way of things. We just want to give it a little help here – not throw things way out of whack!
Next week in Part 2 of this article I’ll go into more detail about natural progesterone cream can alleviate the discomforts listed above, and more. I’ll also discuss my own personal experiment with progesterone cream.
How about you? Have you tried natural progesterone cream? I’d love to know your experience – good or not so awesome. Leave your testimonials and questions in the comment section so we can share the wisdom!