In between the hot flashes and night sweats, you may have heard about progesterone. What exactly is progesterone and what role does it play in female health? Progesterone is yet another type of hormone that affects our bodies before and during menopause.

Please note that this article is for some general information only and should not be considered proper medical advice. We need to talk to our doctors before taking any kind of medication and must be aware of all the benefits and risks; plus your doctor will look at your personal medical history to find the best option for you.

Progesterone is a hormone that occurs naturally in women’s bodies; secreted from the ovaries. In the years leading up to perimenopause and menopause, progesterone acts as a balancing agent against estrogen. This means that our bodies are not at the mercy of having too much estrogen. But along comes menopause and while the estrogen levels decrease somewhat, the progesterone levels decrease to virtually zero. As a result, we become more vulnerable to developing estrogen related cancers.

Progesterone is sold in natural forms, as well as synthetic forms under the names Provera and Prometrium. Depending on where you live, progesterone may require a prescription from your doctor or healthcare provider. Many American readers can obtain progesterone cream without a prescription while Canadian readers cannot. In November 2009, a Canadian man was fined $7500 for smuggling progesterone cream into Canada from the United States.

Your doctor may prescribe progesterone with estrogen as a form of combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT) depending on your menopausal symptoms.
Prior to menopause, progesterone may be prescribed to deal with painful menstrual periods. During perimenopause and menopause, progesterone helps to reduce the risk of breast and uterine (endometrial) cancers.

Other benefits for taking progesterone include:
*Helps to elevate moods
*Improves libido
*Lessens effects and occurrences of hot flashes and night sweats
*Reduces anxiety and panic attacks
*Aids in getting a better night’s sleep
*Helps thyroid function

Progesterone may be taken orally in a pill form, but increasingly women are choosing progesterone cream as a convenient option.

Progesterone is generally considered safe for most women to use but as with any product there are possible side effects that may occur. If you experience any of the following symptoms you should contact your doctor right away.
*Stomach pains or cramps
*Swollen and tender breasts
*Extreme drowsiness (never drive a vehicle or operate any type of machinery until you know for certain how progesterone affects you)
*Difficulty concentrating or having memory loss
*Abnormal bleeding in between menstrual periods
*Skin rashes or unusually itchiness
*Sudden and drastic mood swings
*Migraine-type headaches

Taking progesterone may help us get through some very difficult menopausal years and your doctor can help you decide if progesterone or progesterone and estrogen are your best options. We may not be able to avoid going through menopause but today we have many choices when it comes to finding the right treatments and we do not have to let menopause control our lives.

Menopause, Your Doctor, and You

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