Bioidentical Progesterone Reduces Hot Flushes and Is Safe for the Heart

Confusing synthetic progestins found in HRT with bioidentical progesterone has led to some wrong assumptions about its effectiveness and safety as well as its real benefits for women.


A study from a research team at the University of British Columbia done 10 years ago clarified a real confusion among women, and their doctors about progesterone.

We have known for over ten years that oestrogen and progestins increase the risks of heart attack and stroke and this is one of the reasons why long term use of HRT is now discouraged.

Unfortunately there is also a widespread assumption that natural progesterone would have the same risks because of its molecular similarity to progestins, but what they failed to see were the very real differences between the two.

The late Dr John Lee, the pioneer of bioidentical progesterone cream usage, likened it to having a key cut: the progestin key goes in the lock but does not open the door, but bioidentical progesterone is recognised by the body as a genuine key and the door to hormone balance is readily opened.

Progesterone is safe for heart health, and effective for flushes and night sweats

This study confirmed that treatment with progesterone was shown to alleviate severe hot flushes and night sweats with no cardiovascular risk.

This is no surprise to bioidentical doctors who know progesterone’s role in actually supporting heart health and effectively reducing menopausal symptoms. This study was led by Dr. Jerilynn C. Prior, a professor of endocrinology and the head of Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research and who was a colleague of Dr John Lee, makes positive reading.

HRT has been the preferred way for doctors to deal with menopausal symptoms using a combination of synthetic oestrogen and progestins to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes and night sweats, as well as to prevent osteoporosis.

However many women find themselves unable to tolerate it, and the ongoing research over this period has shown that it has been linked to increased risk of heart disease and strokes plus breast and other hormonal cancers.

What’s the difference?

HRT formulas generally use a progestin (not progesterone) to guard against a thickening of the endometrium which could lead to uterine cancer.

Women who have had a hysterectomy are usually given oestrogen-only HRT and told they do not need progesterone. This has led to more problems as they are having unopposed oestrogen and no protection from progesterone at all and so the increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer still remains.

Oestrogen only HRT is not considered safe as a long-term prevention against osteoporosis or any other conditions of aging. Since oestrogen use began to decline, figures from the USA indicate that breast cancer rates have started to fall and health statisticians believe the two trends are linked.

The three month trial took 110 women and gave half a placebo and half progesterone and the researchers used each woman’s age and changes in blood pressure and cholesterol levels to calculate their 10-year risk of a heart attack and other blood vessel diseases.

There was no increased risk between those taking progesterone and the control group. Dr Prior commented

“Many women are apprehensive about taking progesterone for hot flashes because of a belief that it carries the same – or even greater – risks than oestrogen. We have already shown that the benefits of progesterone alone have been overlooked. This study demonstrates that progesterone’s risks have been overblown.”

Helpful information 

Dr Prior has been prescribing progesterone since it became available in Canada in 1995, for postmenopausal women to treat flashes and night sweats, and for peri-menopausal women to alleviate hot flashes, heavy menstrual flow and sore breasts.

The majority of flushes can certainly be helped by progesterone, but if yours are severe and include night sweats, you may find it more beneficial to use a combination cream, such as 20 to one, which has a small amount of two natural oestrogens, but the same amount of progesterone as in Serenity.

But if your flushes are still giving you trouble, then this article can help.