The use of natural progesterone in the treatment of peri-menopausal, pre-menopausal and menopausal women has enjoyed a groundswell of interest since the pioneering work of Dr. John Lee over 30 years ago.
Natural progesterone cream, synthesized from the wild yam plant, is biochemically identical to the progesterone which occurs naturally in the body, unlike synthetic progesterone, or more precisely, progestin, which is contained in a number of pharmaceutical products such as Provera, the contraceptive pill, and HRT. The latter synthetic compounds are not recognized by progesterone receptors in the brain, and while they do have certain effects on a woman’s reproductive system and general health, do not carry with them the health benefits of natural progesterone. In fact, these pharmaceutically produced products have been found to amplify many common problems such as painful breasts, fluid retention, debilitating headaches, mood swings, and osteoporosis pain—symptoms familiar to millions of women.
Natural progesterone, by contrast, not only eliminates many of the accompanying problems of hormonal imbalance, but actually assists the body in the manufacture of its own progesterone reserves. This is particularly the case after many years of contraceptive pill usage, which effectively floods the body with synthetic steroid hormones, reducing the ability of the body to maintain its own progesterone levels.
Progesterone is not suitable to be taken orally as it is rapidly broken down by the liver. Research shows that a 100 mg dose of natural progesterone would need to be ingested to obtain the equivalent dosage of 10mg applied topically. The remainder is rendered inactive by the liver and excreted as bile. Fortunately progesterone cream is readily absorbed through the skin (i.e. transdermally), thus bypassing the action of the liver.
For optimal results, natural progesterone cream should be applied to thin-skinned areas of the body where blood vessels are closest to the skin’s surface. These areas include the neck, face, inner wrists, feet and ankles, and the palms of the hands. The least effective sites are the fatty areas of the body, including buttocks, thighs and hips. As progesterone is easily absorbed into fatty tissues, application to naturally fatty areas will result in a decrease in bioavailability. By applying the cream to areas of high circulation, i.e. where the skin is thin and blood vessels close to the surface, the active ingredients are able to be readily transported to progesterone receptor sites where they can be rapidly utilized by the body.
The sites used for application of progesterone cream should also be systematically rotated, again to prevent the likelihood of undesired build-up and delayed uptake. Similarly, the larger the area of skin to which the cream is applied will further aid in absorption and rapid distribution.