How do I know if I'm using enough progesterone?

by Shari
(Tucson, AZ)

I've been using progesterone for several years, and it hasn't helped a bit. After reading your site, I read that if I don't use enough I will be in a state of constant estrogen dominance. Finally all this is making sense.

I increased to 100mg for the last 4 days of my luteal phase (which was where I was in my cycle when I found your site) and had immediate improvement. I stopped on the day before my period and still felt good for a few days. I noticed, however, that my craving for sweets increased to more than usual and my skin started getting more rashy than usual. Since progesterone was helping in those areas, I started using some even though it was only day 7. I am not feeling better, although the rash has improved about 50%.

Am I doing this wrong? How do I know if I'm using enough? Should I have just continued to wait until I ovulated and let things get better then? Thank you for your help.

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Oct 26, 2010
How do I know if I'm using enough progesterone?
by: Wray

Hi Shari It is unfortunate so much wrong info is given out on how to use progesterone cream. One is the amount, which is always too low in my experience and from reading the many hundreds of studies performed. The other is to use it from day 14 to day 26. This would be fine if the woman had a 26 day cycle, and only a 12 day luteal phase. But completely incorrect for a woman with a 21 day cycle, as she would only begin the progesterone one week before she bled. In other words half way through her luteal phase. Or for a woman with a 35 day cycle, she would start using progesterone 7 days before ovulation. This can prevent it from occurring if sufficient is used. I'm pleased the increased amount helped you, but it would have been better to wait till ovulation. The sweet craving and rash is caused by excess oestrogen, it appears paradoxical but is normal. When first starting progesterone or increasing the amount, oestrogen dominance can occur. Oestrogen and progesterone activate the others receptor sites. To prevent this occurring or to overcome it, progesterone needs to be increased. From saliva tests we run we've found to feel well the progesterone ratio to oestrogen needs to be over 600:1. The only way to tell if you're using enough is by symptoms, have they gone or are they worse. I've yet to find sufficient progesterone does not help, but I have found insufficient merely makes things worse. If you are still using the progesterone, I suggest you continue till you get your period, always keeping an eye open for adverse symptoms. If they occur increase the amount, this is often the case the few days prior to bleeding. Then stop, and only start again at your next ovulation. Please be aware stress drops progesterone levels so symptoms can come back, so increase the amount if you're stressed. One thing to remember progesterone should never be used as a 'dose' but entirely according to symptoms. Take care Wray

Jan 13, 2011
How do I know if I'm using enough progesterone?
by: Shari

Thank you for your respose. However, I'm still confused. Why would it have been better to wait until ovulation? I have read that we should use it whenever we have adverse symptoms. When my estrogen dominance starts appearing, then I thought that's when I should use it. Do I just let the estrogen dominance go until I ovulate? I do notice that when I use progesterone in the first half of my cycle that my symptoms appear quickly and I find that I have to increase prog. every few days. I have been going thru this for 11 years and am about ready to take bcp's again. I don't want to, but my mood is terrible and I don't have enought consistently good days. This hormone mess is such a yo-yo. Thank you for your input.

Jan 15, 2011
How do I know if I'm using enough progesterone?
by: Wray

Hi Shari I only say it's better to wait till ovulation, as using it beforehand can upset the cycle or prevent ovulation. If you are not concerned with either of these then do use it daily. I often recommend this if symptoms are severe. It wasn't clear yours were, but evidently they are, my apologies! If you find the 100mg is helping then continue with that amount, if not then increase, but before you do please be aware of possible oestrogen dominance occurring. Our adverse symptoms occur when the ratio of progesterone to oestrogen get unbalanced. This doesn't normally occur in the follicular phase when oestrogen is the dominant hormone, as very little progesterone is made, none by the ovaries. This is the reason your symptoms appear quickly when you use progesterone in the first half of the cycle, as the balance is being upset. But as yours appears to be anyway continue to use it, but try a higher amount, rather than increasing every few days. I suggest using 150-200mg/day and see if that helps you. I've found to feel well the ratio of progesterone to oestrogen should be 600:1 and over. We regularly run Saliva Tests and it's from these we've found this ratio and over the best. Please preserve and avoid any Contraceptive to improve your symptoms. Take care Wray

Jan 18, 2011
How do I know if I'm using enough progesterone?
by: Shari

Thank you so much for your reply. What a difference it makes to help those of us who are struggling so much. I guess my symptoms aren't severe in the folicular phase so I will try to use progesterone only after ovulation. You are so right about estrogen dominance coming on when using progesterone in the folicular phase. All this time I thought I needed it then, but when I do use it my symptoms are horrible. That must be why I have been so confused. Thank you again for being so committed to this for all of us women who need to feel better.

Jan 22, 2011
How do I know if I'm using enough progesterone?
by: Wray

Hi Shari I'm so pleased the info I gave you made sense. It can be so confusing. It's only because I have read so many studies, used progesterone for 15 years, and helped thousands of women, that I'm beginning to understand some of the complexities! I'm now getting an increasing number of men using it and asking for advice, so I have to get my head around that too! Even after 15 years of use, I can find myself lacking it because of stress. This can creep up on us unawares, as it did me 6 months ago. I found my nails almost back to where they were before I found progesterone, flaking, chipping, weak. It took me 3 months of puzzling over this to realise I must be under more stress than normal, as I hadn't altered my application of progesterone. When it did finally dawn on me, I used 2tsp per day, this gave me 330mg/day progesterone. I did this for 2 weeks, I suffered from bad oestrogen dominance, lots of pain in all my joints, muscles, headache, tired, weak and felt very sorry for myself! But at the end of the 2 weeks I had very strong nails again and no pain. Plus I had a good laugh at myself! So please monitor symptoms, and if at any time you do feel you need to use it daily, do so. Just be aware you will need more to overcome the oestrogen dominance. Take care Wray

Feb 22, 2011
How do I know if I'm using enough progesterone?
by: Anonymous

So this current cycle I decided to not use progesterone until I ovulated. I had mild symptoms, the most bothersome being my mood, but I made it to ovulation. Immediately upon starting progesterone, I had severe estrogen dominance and had to cut the dose back. I did okay for a day or so, but today I am experiencing severe mood problems (PMDD type). I cannot handle this any longer. It's been 11 years of trying to get progesterone to work. These hormone problems are ruining my life and marriage. This is why I have considered going back on BCPs. I need to stop ovulating so the swings aren't so bad. I can't take care of myself or my children. Can you think of anything else to do? Thank you.

Mar 07, 2011
How do I know if I'm using enough progesterone?
by: Wray

Hi Shari Yes, to increase the amount you're using. I don't know if you're still on 100mg/day, if so I suggest you go up to 200mg. More if necessary, I have women using 400mg/day because symptoms are so bad. Many find this amount is needed, then once symptoms calm down, they begin reducing slowly. One young woman said it took 4 months of a high amount before she could begin reducing. I wish it was a simple matter of giving a 'dose' as in a drug, but it's not. It's impossible to tell what else is occurring in the body to cause such upsets. One thing I have found is that a high level of oestrogen does cause severe symptoms when using progesterone. The amount of progesterone you've been using for 11 years was too low, in fact it's probably the reason you are having such problems now. It was merely ramping up oestrogen. Please preserve, I know what it's like. Another thing I'm going to suggest is to use it daily for at least 2-3 months. It's when you start using progesterone your symptoms are worst. If you stop having a break, allow the progesterone to become dominant, I know you will come right. You might like to read these comments, as it gives a good idea of what a low amount does. And what a high amount can eventually do, see here. Your periods will come and go, unless you use 400mg/day, which can stop them. They could be irregular too, but it does no harm. I see I haven't asked you to have a vitamin D test done, this is such a critical nutrient. It's low in most of us, and a low level reduces the benefits of progesterone. For more info please see the Vitamin D council and GrassrootsHealth websites. It could be all you need is more vitamin D. Take care Wray

Mar 14, 2011
How do I know if I'm using enough progesterone
by: Shari

My multi vitamin contains 12500 IU of beta carotene. I have also started taking 4000IU of D3. Will the BC destroy the D at that dose? Thank you. You are helping so many. Shari

Mar 24, 2011
How do I know if I'm using enough progesterone
by: Wray

Hi Shari Beta carotene is very good, it's vitamin A that should be avoided, as this effects vitamin D adversely by blocking it's action, see here. I'm concerned you mention 'BC', have you started taking Contraceptives again? If you mean progesterone, then no it doesn't destroy vitamin D, in fact it's been found that a lack of vitamin D reduces the benefits of progesterone, see here, here and here. I would ask you to increase your D to 5000iu's per day, this is the minimum the authorities recommend, and I don't mean the government! See here, here, here and here. Thanks for the kind words! Take care Wray

Mar 28, 2011
How do I know if I'm using enough progesterone?
by: Shari

Hi Wray. Thank you so much for your help. I meant beta carotene with BC. Sorry. I should have written it out. I feel as though I am not benefitting from progesterone any longer though. I sent a new thread to you yesterday. Could I be progesterone dominant already? I don't understand why some people say that progesterone can build up and stop working. I feel it is no longer working for me and I have gone up to 400 mg. One pharmacist recommended that I stop using so much and cycle it with a lower amount. I do know that when I administer it, my body starts to itch like crazy. That itching had gone away initially (for three months) but now has returned along with other symptoms. Thank you, Wray, for your amazing help.

Apr 09, 2011
How do I know if I'm using enough progesterone?
by: Wray

Hi Shari I did see your other comment and have answered it. And thanks for clearing the confusion about the BC! There is this 'myth' as I call it that progesterone builds up, saturating the fatty layer. In the 15 years of using it and advising about it I've not found this the case. If you look back you'll see my remarks about my own experience on increasing the amount. It caused bad joint and muscle pain. This would not have been the case if I had saturated my fatty layer! One thing I haven't touched on are the ingredients in the cream you are using, sometimes these can cause an allergic reaction. Please look through them in case this could be the cause. I hope my other reply helps you too. I do hope we can get to the route of the problem soon, as I can see it's all getting too much for you. Take care Wray

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