Sorting Hormone Fact From Fiction
Over many years of speaking and writing about natural hormones I have heard much that is positive and a lot that is negative and uninformed. These questions come up frequently in my conversations with women so I am sharing my responses as they may prove helpful for you too.
Hormone balance is every woman’s right, and there has been a growing interest in bioidentical natural hormone usage. What usually goes along with that is that there is often a negative response that is not always informed but usually quite vocal!
Progestins/Progestogens Are Not Progesterone!
This is the most frequent misunderstanding that occurs from doctors, patients and the press. Indeed I have even seen one website which begins with the definition: ‘Progesterone (progestins)’ which is one of the most blatant mistakes I have seen – but not uncommon.
Progesterone is the natural hormone, progestins/progestogens are the synthetic chemical replacement found in the Pill, HRT and the Coil. Many women are told they are getting progesterone when in fact they are getting the opposite. My colleague Dame Dr Shirley Bond has also found that most of the anti-progesterone remarks in the media relate to progestogens. If you refer to the papers in which such negative quotes appear they don’t seem to know the difference. This is depressing and frustrating for users.
Further there is growing concern amongst doctors familiar with bioidentical hormone usage that the progestins may prove to be as harmful as unopposed oestrogen (0estrogen dominance) has proved to be.
The Side Effects Confusion
Progesterone has been used for over 30 years without any side effects reported. On the other hand oestrogen was showing side effects early on in its sole use in the original ERT (Estrogen Replacement Therapy) but these were ignored. It was almost 20 years before it was realised that oestrogen replacement therapy had increased the risk of endometrial cancer dramatically.
Do Women Only Need Oestrogen at Menopause?
It is forgotten that women’s production of oestrogen does not stop at menopause but continues to be produced in the fat cells. Indeed that is probably why women develop a ‘tummy’ around this time to allow that process to take place – much as we may not wish it to!
Women do not continue to produce progesterone at menopause and if they are having unopposed oestrogen then there is nothing to counteract its effects – which are well documented and include increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer. Furthermore, progesterone is essential for bone building, needed to keep bones strong and to build density that can be lost and lead to osteoporosis.
Menopause Is A Natural Process So Does Not Need Help
Well tell that to the many women suffering hormone imbalance and hot flushes and night sweats. In theory this is true and leads to the ‘how has nature got it wrong’ debate but ignores the fact that our lives are very different from our ancestors.
Women today are subject to excess oestrogen and chemical overload from food, water and medications. The biggest factor that exacerbates flushes is stress and this a major problem for many women juggling their lives today.
And of course our ancestors were not subject to surgery such as a hysterectomy which brings on an immediate enforced menopause without the natural and normal period of transition. This can often result in severe hormone disruption and the onset of hot flushes and sweats with a vengeance.
The choice to use natural hormones rests with each woman making an individual decision to do what is best for her symptoms and her body. The real proof of the success of natural hormones is their continuing, successful use now by several generations of women looking for an alternative to synthetic hormones. Your symptoms will dictate if you need progesterone for oestrogen dominance or a combination of progesterone and oestrogen for symptoms of low oestrogen such as vaginal dryness.
For more information on ‘Natural Progesterone’ the book by Dame Dr Shirley Bond and AnnA Rushton please visit: