Women do need progesterone throughout their lives, though many doctors and consultants do only suggest oestrogen to be replaced with HRT. The reason to supplement with progesterone is very simple: it gives protection from oestrogen dominance and the results of excess oestrogen which are linked to heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis.
While oestrogen and progesterone decline with age gradually, there is a drastic change in the rate of decline during the perimenopausal and menopausal years and for women who have had a hysterectomy, even if the ovaries have been left.
Between 35 to 50 years of age there is a 75% reduction in production of progesterone but our levels of oestrogen during the same period only declines about 35%. By menopause, the total amount of progesterone made in the body is extremely low, but oestrogen is still present at about half its pre-menopausal level. With the gradual drop in oestrogen coupled with the severe drop in progesterone, there is insufficient progesterone to counteract the effects of this amount of oestrogen in our body. This results in oestrogen dominance.
What are the signs?
It is helpful to read the following list which was originally compiled by the late Dr John Lee of the USA, the pioneer in bioidentical hormone cream usage, and check against your own symptoms:
Symptoms Associated With Oestrogen Dominance
* autoimmune disorders such as lupus
* breast tenderness
* decreased sex drive
* fibrocystic breasts
* foggy thinking
* increased blood clotting
* memory loss
* thyroid problems
* uterine cancer
* uterine fibroids
* water retention
What can you do?
Oestrogen dominance is simply helped by ensuring you have sufficient progesterone levels to balance out the excess oestrogen. It is commonly thought that if you have low oestrogen you cannot be oestrogen dominant but this is simply not the case if your progesterone levels are even lower. You can establish your levels of the two hormones by saliva testing – more accurate than blood tests – or simply by noting the symptoms that you have. The more symptoms the more likely you are to be oestrogen dominant.
Also if you are using HRT, or have a diet high in phytoestrogens such as soy then this too will add to the oestrogen load.