This is a topic that has often come up in discussion with bioidentical doctors such as Dame Dr Shirley Bond and Dr Tony Coope and the answer seems to be absolutely yes.
Dr Bond in particular has some interesting things to say about the way the hormone works in men.
Progesterone production in men
It is often forgotten that progesterone is a hormone produced by both women and men. Men produce it in both their adrenals and testes and progesterone levels in men remain fairly constant until they reach their sixties or even seventies.
At this time of life there are other hormone changes in a man in addition to the drop in progesterone levels. Testosterone levels drop and change from a preponderance of testosterone to one of di-hydrotestosterone.
The levels of oestrogens also rise and although it is not clear whether these hormonal changes are independent of one another, or if perhaps the drop in progesterone precipitates the fall in testosterone, what is clear is that adequate progesterone production is essential for men’s health and wellbeing.
The effects of hormonal changes on men
While it is well recognised that men frequently experience a decrease in sexual activity as they age, it is not clear whether this is due to ageing, a decline in general fitness, change in hormone levels or a combination of these factors.
Hormonal changes do not occur in all men, but when they do they are generally related to a rise in their oestrogen levels. This accounts for the ‘man breasts’ and feminising effects observed in men where they may also need to shave less often.
The levels of both progesterone and testosterone drop, and when testosterone levels fall there is often a corresponding rise in di-hydro-testosterone. This is another form of testosterone and seems to have more aggressive effects than testosterone and possibly may be the cause of prostatic cancer.
The effect of low progesterone in men
The drop in progesterone levels is important. We know that progesterone has a protective effect against the stimulating effect of oestrogen in women.
It has the same protective effect in men against the stimulating effects of testosterone and di-hydrotestosterone.
It works in men in two ways: first by acting directly upon progesterone receptors which are present in almost every tissue of the body, and secondly by competing for receptors with testosterone.
Although very little research has been done into the effects and role of progesterone in men, it is clear that a whole range of health problems can be addressed using this hormone.
It should not be forgotten that men are also exposed to the pollutant xenoestrogens in the environment and these too can have oestrogen-like effects on men as well as on women.
This oestrogen dominance due to pollution is also probably the cause of some of the low sperm counts that are not infrequently seen in otherwise fit and healthy men.
The use of supplemental bioidentical natural progesterone in men is based partly on a knowledge of physiology – that is the way in which tissues are supposed to function in the body – and experience gained from observing the effect of supplementation on male patients.
It may well be that future work will show that natural progesterone is as vital a hormone for men as it is for women.
Progesterone and prostate problems
1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime and the link with oestrogen can certainly be considered and addressed.
Dr Tony Coope has looked at the effect of progesterone and while there has been no specific research done with regards to natural progesterone usage in men, there have been interesting reports from patients with prostate cancer which has been diagnosed both by blood test and biopsy.
These patients have found that, as a result of using natural progesterone for about a year, the levels of PSA (Prostatic Specific Antigen) in their blood have decreased to normal levels.
The mechanism for this apparently beneficial effect of natural progesterone is not clear but may relate to progesterone being a precursor of testosterone. Men as they get older have a tendency to produce less testosterone and more di-hydrotestosterone, as described by Dr Bond, which seems to have an over stimulating effect on cells.
Progesterone could have the effect of neutralizing the di-hydrotestosterone, which would thus help to maintain testosterone levels. It is also thought that progesterone may have an effect on the genetic coding of some cells, and in this prevents the development of abnormal cells.
Dr Tony Coope has commented on the use of progesterone cream after the hot flushes that can result from cancer treatment.
“The physiology behind flushes is in my opinion not completely explained, – my feeling is that it is more to do with hormone imbalance than specifically related to estrogen. As progesterone is so safe, and is believed by some experts to be helpful in prostate cancer (John Lee et al), I think it would be definitely worth trying for a month or two to see how the man responds.”
Certainly it seems that men can also suffer from oestrogen dominance but whether supplementing with progesterone would help proactively against future problems we do not know, but certainly it cannot do any harm.