WHAT ARE THEY?  Progesterone means pro (supporting) gesterone (gestation or pregnancy). Progesterone is the OTHER hormone your ovaries make, other than estrogen, and its main function is to support pregnancy. Progestogens can be either natural or synthetic. The natural form when taken by mouth is rapidly broken down by the liver this is why in 1934 a synthetic form was developed. There are now more than 10 synthetic forms of progestogens (see chart). A new form called micronized (broken down into tiny particles) progesterone has recently become available, the micronized progesterone resists breakdown.

WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?  Progestogens have been used for years in infertility treatment and to replace the natural progesterone in women with premature ovarian failure. Progestogens are used to treat abnormal uterine bleeding and for contraception in birth control pills and in Depo-ProveraÒ. They are also used to prevent the negative effects of estrogen on the uterus when used for hormone replacement therapy and they are used for the treatment of PMS.

SO WHERE'S THE CONTROVERSY?  There are two controversial topics you may have heard of. First is the use of natural versus synthetic progestogens in hormone replacement therapy. Second is the use of progesterone in the treatment of PMS, especially the recent popularity of the NATURAL PROGESTERONE CREAMS.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is recommended for most women after menopause. HRT consists of the hormone estrogen and, if your uterus has not been removed, progesterone. It's commonly known that estrogen supplementation alone can cause endometrial (uterine) cancer. When a progestogen is added, the chance of uterine cancer is reduced below the base line level. One of estrogen's many benefits is it's ability to reduce the risk of heart disease. One of the ways estrogen does this is by increasing HDL or (good cholesterol). Synthetic progestogens tend to reduce this benefit. Natural micronized progesterone does not appear to reduce estrogens positive effect on cholesterol. Therefore this is one case where the natural form of progesterone may be better for you.

PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is a major problem for millions of women around the world. Until recently there has been no effective treatment. One of the theories about the causes of PMS is that there is an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. This theory has led to the treatment of PMS with progesterone. There have been over 20 scientific studies of the treatment of PMS with progesterone, the vast majority of which have found progesterone to be ineffective. There are a few small studies that have shown some relief of some symptoms of PMS with progesterone. Progesterone, especially in EXPENSIVE cream form is marketed as a cure for obesity, depression, foggy thinking, osteoporosis and wrinkles to name a few. These claims, made by some manufactures are unsubstantiated.

WILD YAM (Dioscorea villosa)  Yams produce a compound that is used by the pharmaceutical industry to produce progestogens. The human body can NOT do this. Many PMS and menopausal remedies contain wild yam or Mexican yam extract. Often claims are made that this product is in fact progesterone, it is not. Dioscorea may have beneficial effects and it may be useful for some conditions, but it is not the same as progesterone.

SIDE EFFECTS  Progestogens should not be used if you have had blood clots in the legs (thrombophlebitis) or liver disease. Use in pregnancy requires careful physician surveillance. Progesterone can also cause bloating, breast tenderness, weight gain, headache, moodiness and irregular vaginal bleeding. Progestogens can cause some medical conditions to worsen examples are asthma, heart failure, epilepsy and migraine headache. Natural progesterone tends to have fewer side effects.

Brand Name
Type of Progesterone

Available Dosages

Prometrium® Natural Progesterone 100 mg Solvay
Amen® Medroxyprogesterone
10 mg Carnick
Curretab® Medroxyprogesterone
10 mg Solvay
Cycrin® Medroxyprogesterone
10 mg, 5 mg
2.5 mg
Provera® Medroxyprogesterone
10 mg, 5 mg
2.5 mg
Aygestin® Norethindrone
5 mg Wyeth-Ayerst
Nortulate® Norethindrone
5 mg Parke-Davis
Nortulin® Norethindrone 5 mg Parke-Davis
Megace® Mesgesterol
20 mg
40 mg
Ovrette® Norgestrel 0.075 mg Wyeth-Arest
Micronor® Norethindrone 0.35 mg Ortho Pharmaceutical
Imperial Gold Maca™ Herbal Product 550 mg A Healthy Alternative, LLC
Nor-QD® Norethindrone
Micronized Oral
Progesterone Vaginal
0.35 mg
100 mg

25 mg
50 mg


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