Discovery Fit & Health
When a woman undergoes menopause, her natural progesterone levels begin to fall. As a result, she may experience the following uncomfortable symptoms:
- Hot flashes
- Stress, mood swings and depression
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain
Hormone replacement therapy that includes progesterone and estrogen can be helpful in alleviating these symptoms, but synthetic progesterone pills can bring on many unwanted side effects, including depression, nausea and even the risk of cancer. Many people believe that natural progesterone cream (made from the extract of Mexican wild yams) is just as effective and causes fewer side effects than synthetic hormone treatment [source: Chustecka].
For women, the benefits of balanced levels of progesterone and estrogen are clear - - bone health is improved, blood sugar levels are stabilized, and the chances of suffering from depression, endometrial cancer and breast cancer are diminished [source: Mercola]. Women who have normal levels of progesterone tend to suffer less from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopause and endometriosis. Progesterone is vital for healthy ovulation and for preparing the body for pregnancy. During pregnancy, women should have progesterone levels that are approximately 10 times higher than their non-pregnancy levels - - this helps to promote the development of milk glands, and to prevent additional eggs being released by the ovaries [sources: Progesterone, WebMD, Healthy Women].
The effects of progesterone cream have not yet been investigated in comprehensive, long-term studies, and the cream has its detractors. Some scientists claim that the cream isn't any better than the synthetic progesterone available in hormone replacement therapy [source: Better Health Channel]. Certain researchers say that progesterone cream causes progesterone levels to rise excessively; over time, this can prevent the adrenal glands from working properly [source: Mercola]. Others claim that the body doesn't effectively absorb the progesterone substitute in the cream, and as a result, the cream does not actually provide many of the benefits it claims, including protection against endometrial cancer [source: Better Health Channel].
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