Progesterone therapy for menopause treatment is one of the numerous options available to women fighting symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, hair loss, mental decline, weight gain, and night sweats. Some women fear the words “hormone replacement” because they are concerned about the increased risks of certain serious conditions, such as breast cancer, stroke, or blood clots, but that is not the case with progesterone replacement.
It is good to have that concern as it often yields to added research so that one understands the options available. In this instance, we are speaking about the use of progesterone therapy in menopause. This is not the same thing as progestin, a synthetic medication that brings some of the benefits of progesterone, but with greater risk.
A statement drafted jointly by The North American Menopause Society, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and The Endocrine Society clarified the following:
- Hormone therapy is the most effective way of handling hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
- Women whose sole complaint is vaginal discomfort or dryness do best with low-dose vaginal estrogen.
- If a woman still has her uterus, she must use progesterone along with estrogen to prevent uterine cancer. The duration of treatment should be less than five years.
- Women without a uterus can use estrogen by itself, and potentially for a longer time if needed.
The statement goes on to include warnings about the increased risks of blood clots, stroke, and breast cancer, although the risks are rare for those women between age 50 and 59. Combination estrogen and progesterone therapy use of more than five years increase breast cancer risk, but that decreases once treatment ends. Estrogen alone for an average of seven years did not increase the risk.
It is also important for us to point out that many of the earlier studies used synthetic progestin rather than bioidentical natural progesterone, which has been proven safer to use. Progestin was the basis for the studies cited in the statements provided above.
How Progesterone Helps Menopause
Oral micronized progesterone treatment for menopause can help with hot flashes, improving bone density (reducing osteoporosis risk), night sweats, and insomnia. In fact, a dose of oral progesterone at 300 mg before bed normalizes blood progesterone levels and increases deep sleep.
One concern about the use of creams as a form of progesterone therapy for menopause is that they are not yet standardized sufficiently, and dosing is harder to ascertain because each woman will absorb the progesterone differently into her body. Progesterone cream does not have tested benefits for improving sleep quality as with oral progesterone.
Stimulating the formation of new bone is a vital part of progesterone therapy. Menopause often leads to weaker bones and progesterone helps to prevent bone loss by increasing bone cell formation and improving bone density.
Progesterone therapy during menopause also increases blood flow through small vessels, decreasing blood pressure, and helping burn stored fat by increasing basal body temperature. Another positive aspect is the blocking of dihydrotestosterone production, a hormone that stimulates acne and facial hair growth.
Benefits of Progesterone for Menopause
The hormones in our bodies promote numerous functions, and progesterone is also a source hormone for the production of testosterone, estrogen, cortisol, and other vital chemical messengers. Testosterone is just as important to women as progesterone and estrogen. Low T can also lead to cognitive decline, weight gain, thinning hair, high cholesterol, muscle and bone loss, and reduced sex drive. Protecting and improving progesterone levels helps to increase testosterone production, as well.
When a woman uses progesterone treatment, menopause symptoms begin to subside. Overall mood, mental performance, and physical appearance start to improve.
However, what about later – during the years following menopause? Are there benefits of progesterone therapy postmenopausal?
A study out of Stanford University in California showed no benefits for postmenopausal women using estrogen therapy, whether they were newly postmenopausal or ten years past that time. There were, however, benefits to women relating to global cognition and verbal memory with higher progesterone levels. The study of 643 healthy women between ages 41 and 84 who were not on hormone therapy showed that those who had higher levels of progesterone did better on the cognitive tests.
Another reason to consider progesterone treatment postmenopausal is its effect on thyroid hormone functions. Progesterone also helps to balance stress levels and improve mood. Many women can use progesterone cream for 25 days each month postmenopausal. A hormone specialist will guide you through this process following blood testing to determine your progesterone levels.
If you need more information, you can contact us here and get a free consultation
Note: This article is for information only and does not replace medical advice