Does or Can Progesterone Metabolize Into Estrogen?

by Lily
(Las Vegas, NV, USA)

Hi Wray,

I've been told by a few medical practitioners that progesterone can be metabolized into estrogen, and therefore they recommend keeping progesterone minimized. Obviously this contradicts with your position on making progesterone dominant, but do you know specifically what they're referring to, or what they may not be understanding? Possibly they're referencing the initial phase of using progesterone cream, where it excites estrogen receptors, but in either case, I like having as much basis and scientific information available, and can't seem to find any papers or information confirming this online. Any insight you have is most appreciated. Thanks so much in advance.

Comments for Does or Can Progesterone Metabolize Into Estrogen?

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Jul 24, 2012
can progesterone metabolize into estrogen?
by: Cheryl


Actually progesterone can be converted into estrogen. Progesterone can be converted into 17-hydroxyprogesterone which can be converted into Androstenedione which is either converted into testosterone or the estrogens.

Jul 25, 2012
Does or Can Progesterone Metabolize Into Estrogen?
by: Wray

Hi Lily Yes it is eventually converted into oestrogen, it's the precursor to all the steroid hormones. Plus cortisol and aldosterone. There are three main groups of steroids, glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids and androgens…..

Cholesterol → Pregnenolone → Progesterone → Corticosterone → Aldosterone

Cholesterol → Pregnenolone → Progesterone → 17-OH-Progesterone → 11-Deoxycortisol → Cortisol → Cortisone

Cholesterol → Pregnenolone → Progesterone → 17-OH-Progesterone → Androstenedione → Adrenosterone → two further hormones
Cholesterol → Pregnenolone → Progesterone → 17-OH-Progesterone → Androstenedione → Testosterone → DHT
Cholesterol → Pregnenolone → Progesterone → 17-OH-Progesterone → Androstenedione → Testosterone → Oestradiol ⇄ Oestrone → Oestriol (also Oestradiol → Oestriol)

There's a further steroid pathway which doesn't involve progesterone……
Cholesterol → Pregnenolone → 17-OH-Pregnenolone → DHEA → Androstenediol → Testosterone → DHT

Each month women make more testosterone than oestrogen, but most of it is converted to oestradiol by the enzyme aromatase. See the last pathway above under Androgens. So one could argue about keeping progesterone low to prevent testosterone production! Unfortunately the reverse occurs, as this often happens in women with PCOS. One of the major problems in PCOS is anovulation, which leads to low or no progesterone being secreted. This allows the androgens to increase, leading to acne, facial and body hair, scalp hair loss, plus oily skin and hair, some of the symptoms of PCOS. One reason men suffer far more from acne etc than women. Continued below.

Jul 25, 2012
Does or Can Progesterone Metabolize Into Estrogen? Part 2
by: Wray

Hi Lily One thing always seems to be forgotten, all the hormones, neurotransmitters too, affect each other. For instance progesterone influences oestrogen, testosterone, LH, FSH, prolactin, plus the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and GABA. In fact dopamine acts via an 'empty' progesterone receptor. An excess of any of the above hormones will suppress progesterone, PCOS being a prime example, the reverse is also true. To lower oestrogen and testosterone it's essential sufficient SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) is available. If bound to SHBG they become inactive, but if SHBG is low, more free oestrogen and testosterone are available. It's the free hormone which causes the response, the higher it is the worse the symptoms. Progesterone raises levels of SHBG so binding more of the two hormones, particularly testosterone which has high affinity to it. This of course will mean there is less to convert to the three oestrogens, see here. Progesterone is obviously not bound to SHBG, but to transcortin, also known as corticosteroid-binding globulin. It's regulated by oestrogen, so if oestrogen is high, progesterone will be bound, causing levels to drop, or become unavailable. SHBG is lowered by the sugars, including those found in all grains, legumes, dairy and sweet starchy fruits and vegetables. Fructose, sucrose and glucose (all carbs are converted into glucose), reduce SHBG by 80, 50 and 40% respectively, see here. It's best to avoid all the foods and sugars mentioned, otherwise testosterone rises, and along with it oestrogen. One reason eating or drinking any of the above sugars can cause Acne. So each hormone affects the other, stimulating or inhibiting depending on the level of secretion. But it doesn't end there, secretion itself is dependant on the level of enzymes present and there are many involved. Progesterone affects the enzymes too. For instance balding in men is often attributed to DHT, acne is too. Testosterone is converted to DHT via 5-alpha reductase, progesterone effectively inhibits this, see here, here and here. Another example is aromatase. As men get older their oestrogen levels rise. This is because they secrete more aromatase, this of course converts more testosterone to oestrogen. Continued below.

Jul 25, 2012
Does or Can Progesterone Metabolize Into Estrogen? Part 3
by: Wray

Hi Lily Interestingly progesterone does have a slight inhibitory action on aromatase, see here, here, here, here, here, here and here. What are they not understanding, impossible to say as it's all quite clear. Very few seem to know that the hormones influence each other. Oestrogen and testosterone dominance and why it occurs, does not come into their vocabulary. It's impossible to look at any one thing, be it a hormone, neurotransmitter, an enzyme etc as an isolated, independently acting substance. The body works as a whole, not in parts. These are a few papers on steroidgenesis, see here, here and here. These are a two on progesterone here here. The rest are scattered over our site. The best pages to look at are Menstruation, Oestrogen Dominance, Anxiety, Breast Tenderness, Epilepsy, and Candida. You might also be interested in looking at steroidgenesis in the adrenal glands, as they also make progesterone, see here. Take care Wray

Jan 01, 2016
Ray Peat
by: Anonymous

Wray, interesting response! Have you ever checked out Ray Peat's research and work? click on his articles. I think you might find some interesting thoughts here.

Apr 26, 2016
Hair gone myself and baby after Natpro
by: Nicole

Let me begin by saying I really value Wray Whyte. She has helped countless women and she does it with a pure and selfless heart. I took on board everything she had to say in these forums, she is so wise and helpful, I truly believe in her. However my experience has brought me to the brink of suicide. I increased my dosage of progesterone just as she recommends. Every time, I think 'oh I need more'. 3,4,5,600mg etc it's not enough, I need more. Since high doses of progesterone over a year I have now lost half my hair from underneath. I am bald from the middle of my skull to the neck, plus a receding hairline all around the face of two inches that makes me look like an egg. If I didn't have my toddler I would be wanting to die because I have so many other embarrassing problems for a 30 year old - severe tinnitus, severe dry thin wrinkled skin, and apkh - strange kinky course hairs - from Accutane use 7 years ago, blood that pools in my hands and feet leaving them red, skin that no longer tans and is a strange unhealthy shade of very white everywhere, intense red flushing when warm or embarrassed and the extreme pain in joints and legs. The hair loss has tipped me over the edge. I wish I were dead now, I'm so humiliated. I could probably increase the cream and wish for the best again but I know I will get more hair loss so why bother at this point, just to prove to myself. I have used up all my money so can't afford higher doses anyhow. I am selling my belongings every month just to take the amount I'm on now (600mg) I have high/sufficient vitamin D, plus I buy and take all the normal/high doses of B vitamins she recommends and other supplements like nac etc and I get tons of balanced protein. I am not anemic, thyroid okay. I am even now on the Ray Peat and Danny Roddy diet. I am too scared to come off the cream now in case the rest falls out, and too scared to increase in case more falls out as I will never leave the house again, so I'm stuck on the same amount not knowing if I am perpetually stimulating estrogen receptors (some people like Ray peat don't even believe in the receptors I don't understand?) I tried one pregnenolone capsule had bad reaction so that's a no go for me, the tinnitus increase was incredible. I have tried mint tea to block androgens, aspirin, caffeine magnesium, zinc, the list is endless. I am at a loss. I used to be on pain replied but after using serrapeotase I managed to get off it but that seemed to make hormones worse, rebound effect or something. I just want my hair back I am doubtful it will ever grow back now???? So now I've given myself one more problem I can't live with and I just can't cope anymore. I couldn't afford a wig if I wanted to. I can't die, and I can't stay indoors with a toddler who needs to be outside. I keep my stress down and try to ignore things as I know stress makes everything worse. I take lysine and sometimes theanine. But the truth is whenever I look at the back of my head in the mirror I wonder what the hell have I done to myself and when will it end. If I lose any more I think I won't be able stay calm anymore, and I will want to die. My gp's are all zero help. I refuse anti depressants. I wish I had never started progesterone therapy. I didn't have a great life before true, but now I have even less. I can't believe I gave myself alopecia on top of the many other problems I have. I'm pretty sure I won't get a response but I just wanted to put this out there anyway. I'm not against progesterone, I know it helps many women. I believe in Wray Whyte, she is a good and kind woman, she truly is and I believe what she says. But I'm clearly screwed up its only destroyed my health, looks, and life and now I am hanging on by a thread. I wish to god I could go back a year and have my hair back. I just don't know what to do for the best anymore. I'm stuck on this cream not knowing what to do and I'm pretty sure that soon I will be completely and on top of my many other embarrassing skin problems that's just a no go for me. I feel so ugly. I am so angry at myself for using this stuff. Nobody can help me. I'm not sure who I'm talking to here. Oh and to make matters worse I took the advice of using a pin head amount on my baby when she was extremely upset and couldn't sleep, maybe less than twice a month, and she has recently lost hair in the same places as me the neck and her receding temples, her curls at the back are disappearing and everyone keeps commenting. What the hell did this do to my 16 month old?? I am terrified of telling a doctor I did this in case they take her off me!!! I followed the advice of the Internet and put hormones in my baby and her hair fell out...they would surely investigate that??? I have ruined our lives. I don't know what the next step is now.

May 20, 2016
Have you had your levels checked?
by: Anonymous

I am so sorry for all you are going through! Please go see a doctor that can test your blood or saliva and find out what your levels are of your different hormones including your thyroid. There is so much they can do for you! Everything you are going through is tough and the stress of it all is adding to the struggle. From the tests they should be able to help bring your hormone levels into balance. Good Luck! :)

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