Progesterone, along with estrogen regulates menstrual cycle in women. It is necessary to have healthy levels of both these hormones in the body. Dominance of any of these two hormones may adversely affect the functioning of female reproductive system. Progesterone deficiency has become a common problem in women of reproductive age group. These women do not produce sufficient progesterone on their own. As a result, they are recommended to take progesterone externally, in the form of supplements. Natural progesterone is often sought after as a replacement to human progesterone. While it is greatly touted as safe, there are reports of it causing undesirable side effects in women. Let us see what these side effects include. But before that, let us take an overview of progesterone function in the body.
How does Natural Progesterone Help
Progesterone is secreted by the ovaries of women in reproductive age group. Progesterone takes over estrogen during the luteal phase of menstrual cycle. This is the second phase in which a matured egg which has been released by ovaries, begins its journey toward uterus. This is the time when the chances of fertilization are maximum. As a preparation for possible pregnancy, progesterone signals uterus to thicken its lining so that fertilized egg can implant itself. If no fertilization occurs, uterine lining is shed during period and progesterone levels drop, signaling the end of cycle. In an event of conception, the progesterone levels remain elevated until the 12th week of pregnancy, after which placenta takes over.
In an incidence where a woman cannot produce progesterone on her own, she may face problems getting pregnant. The failure to conceive is due to absence of thick enough uterine lining where embryo can implant itself. Thus, irrespective of successful fertilization, the woman has to suffer from infertility. This condition can be easily avoided using natural progesterone. Natural progesterone is derived from natural sources such as yams. Although it is not exactly similar to human progesterone, it mimics its properties in the body, so that hormonal balance can be achieved.
Side Effects of Natural Progesterone
Natural progesterone is usually very safe and does not produce any undesirable side effects. However, in the past few years, lot has been said against the use of natural progesterone. While there is not enough medical evidence to prove that natural progesterone affects body in some dangerous way, pharmaceutical companies are crying hoarse that natural progesterone is harmful. One possible reason for this could be that as natural progesterone is 'natural' it cannot be patented by the pharmaceutical companies. Besides, it is easily available and cheaper than synthetic progesterone or progestin. Thus, pharmaceutical companies cannot sell their expensive progesterone product.
However, as human progesterone may play havoc in body if it rises beyond normal levels, natural progesterone is also capable of inducing undesirable effects if you exceed the dose limit. Human ovaries produce about 20 mg progesterone, hence, the natural progesterone dosage should also be in proportion with it. Progesterone is supplemented in the form of creams, patches and suppositories. Cream and patches are the best forms of supplementing progesterone as fat cells in skin absorb progesterone and release it in small amounts throughout the day. As this mechanism mimics the natural mechanism, you get a more steady source of progesterone. Suppositories release progesterone directly into the cervix, where it can be absorbed by uterus. In this case, progesterone levels surge abruptly, as opposed to natural mechanism. If you were to take oral progesterone supplements, you would need very high dosage of progesterone as most of it would be broken down by the liver, before it reaches reproductive organs.
Some side effects of taking natural progesterone in excess dosage include dizziness, nausea, very tender breasts etc. You may also experience some unpleasant effects when you just start progesterone therapy. This is because natural progesterone essentially activates estrogen receptor sites, which bring about a temporary surge in already elevated estrogen levels. However, as your body gets used to the supplements, it may react in a more natural way.
Thus, natural progesterone can be indeed of great help to women facing infertility problems. However, make sure you follow the correct dosage as prescribed by your doctor.