Hormones 101

PROGESTERONE

In women progesterone is a steroid hormone made by the corpus luteum of the ovary at ovulation, and in smaller amounts by the adrenal glands. In a female with a normal cycle, the corpus luteum produces 20 to 30 mg of progesterone daily during the luteal phase (the later half) of the menstrual cycle.Progesterone is needed by menopausal women for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important reasons is to balance the effects of estrogen. Estrogen that is not balanced by progesterone creates a risk for many diseases.

In men this important hormone is made in the testes and adrenal glands. Progesterone in the body balances the effects of excess estrogen. Too much estrogen can suppress the male’s production of testosterone that leads to low testosterone levels and male menopause symptoms. Men can actually have “Estrogen Dominance” from the estrogen they are exposed to in their food and in the environment. Progesterone supplementation can reduce the size of an enlarged prostate in men with this condition. An increased sexual desire has been reported in men and women with natural progesterone supplementation. Progesterone also counteracts “Estrogen Dominance” in men and women.

TESTOSTERONE

Blood serum testosterone levels of a 30 to 40 year old man range from 300 to 1200 ng/dl. For men and symptoms of male menopause, the testosterone level that is good for one man can be different than the necessary level for another man. If a man knows what his normal testosterone levels were in his 30’s, that information can be used in determining the appropriate testosterone treatment for low testosterone. If normal testosterone levels are not known for a man, treating low testosterone symptoms will likely begin at the lower end of the range, and male menopause symptom improvements will be monitored.

Women also have testosterone. The ovaries produce both testosterone and estrogen. Relatively small quantities of testosterone are released into the woman’s bloodstream by the ovaries and adrenal glands.

DHEA

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a steroid hormone mostly produced in the adrenal glands. DHEA and its metabolite DHEA-sulfate (DHEA-S) are precursors (needed for production of) of testosterone and estrogen in the body of both men and women. DHEA also plays an active role in other critical functions – it is important for the immune system, it has a crucial role in the central nervous system and mood, and it is related to circulatory system health.

ESTROGEN & PROGESTERONE

Dr. John Lee was a world-renowned authority on natural hormonal balance and author of many books. (Dr. Lee died in October 2003). He treated thousands of menopausal women in the 1980s and 1990s with a program that was contrary to popular medical thinking at that time. Instead of prescribing estrogen alone (the standard of medical practice then), Dr. Lee prescribed natural progesterone alone for treatment of menopausal symptoms. In addition to relieving the menopausal symptoms, the treatment was able to reverse osteoporosis and prevent cancer. Studies have confirmed that Dr. Lee’s approach of using progesterone alone had very helpful effects.

As Dr. Lee states in his book “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause”: “The prevailing myth in mainstream medicine is that menopause is an estrogen deficiency disease, but estrogen levels drop only 40 to 60 percent at menopause, while progesterone levels can drop to nearly zero.” According to Dr. Lee, what is commonly perceived as an absolute estrogen level deficiency during the menopausal years is in effect estrogen dominance caused by extremely low progesterone level. Since the progesterone’s role is to balance estrogen, the extremely low level of progesterone experienced after menopause leads to a relative dominance of estrogen.

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