Is there anything as too much Progesterone?

by Victoria
(Dallas, TX)

I have been reading this site for quite some time about progesterone therapy and I found out very helpful things. I am 55 and going through menopause and I have had my share of the good and the bad. I started menopause last year quite abruptly after a sad event in my family. Previously, I had very light menopausal symptoms. Three weeks after the event, the hell broke loose and I started experiencing pretty much every symptom in the book: sever hot flashes, insomnia, low energy to the point that I didn?t get out of the house anymore, foggy thinking, memory problems, bloating, constipation, depression, hair loss and brittle nails, headaches, leg pain, and my arthritis flared up to a very painful level. On top of everything my weight went up 15 lb. in approx. 2 months and a half.
I have been hypothyroid for 25 years, but all these years I have managed somehow to keep my weight in check, around 123 lb. I have good eating habits and I workout 4 times a week, but nothing extreme. I still have my 'sinful' pleasures from time to time. For thyroid I take T3 20mcg and T4 100mcg.

I went to see a doctor specialized in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. I started the BIHRT in October last year and things were improving fast, so that in December I was feeling excellent, I even dropped 7 lb. At the time I was taking: Estradiol 0.5mg (capsules), Progesterone 150mg (capsules), DHEA 15mg (capsules), Testosterone, vitamin D 2000 IU. Then January this year came and everything starting going backwards: first bloating, then weight gain, then everything else came back. I went to my doctor for advice; she didn?t know what to do, so I started experimenting on myself with different dosages. I even played around with my thyroid hormones, very bad idea! Then I stopped all hormones for a while. Not good either! By the end of May this year I still didn't figure out what to do, my weight was now 147 lb. and my belly so big I was thinking to buy clothes from the maternity stores. I started doing research on the Internet and I found out about Estrogen dominance and the fact that unopposed estrogens are blocking the absorption of thyroid hormones.

I went to see another doctor, very expensive, and my experience was even worse. I started having chest pain, tightness of breath and I ended up in an emergency room with symptoms of heart attack. I went to see a cardiologist and underwent a cardiac stress test and many other tests, the conclusion was that nothing was wrong with my heart, it was the medications: Progesterone and/or vitamin D. I found out I was taking too much vitamin D. It was the second time in a less than a year when I was overdosing on vitamin D.

In June I found this website which suggested that I should increase the Progesterone and wait for the side effects to disappear, which I did. I put myself on 100mg bio-identical Progesterone capsules, and, indeed, after a week I started feeling much better but not for long. After a month and half of wellbeing I felt the bad symptoms were creeping back in. Now I am on 150mg bio-identical Progesterone capsules. I also take Estradiol 0.5mg, and my thyroid hormones, but no other hormones.

My questions are:

1. Do I need to increase Progesterone every time when I feel that estrogen dominance symptoms are back? For how long, or how high on progesterone dose should I go? Is there any limit? What if the chest pain comes back?

2. Is there any connection between these hormones and eye pain? During this last year I had to change my eyeglasses prescription and I started having pain in one eye.

3. Is there anything I could do about my arthritis? I have arthritis in my fingers (only) and I am having more and more difficulties with using them and my hands.

I would appreciate any comment, idea, or suggestion. Thank you.

Comments for Is there anything as too much Progesterone?

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Aug 05, 2011
Vitamin d overdose?
by: Anonymous

Did you say you were taking 2000 Vit D and it was an overdose? That seems like a low amount to me, since I take 6000 a day and I read that you need to take well over 10,000 a day for a long time to overdose. Just curious what was your blood test reading was?

Aug 08, 2011
Is there anything as too much Progesterone?
by: Wray

Hi Victoria I'm pleased the info here helped you, as the mix of hormones you were on were not good at all. DHEA increases testosterone levels, which increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, visceral fat etc. For DHEA see here, here, here and here. And for testosterone see here, here, here, here, here here, here, here, here and here. I don't believe anyone needs extra oestrogen, see our page on HRT. There are now over 100 oestrogen mimics in our environment too, see the website Our Stolen Future. The chest pains etc could well have been from the oestrogen you were taking, progesterone is essential for normal lung function. Oestrogen causes prolongation of the QT interval, which results in palpitations, arrhythmia and Torsades de Pointes. Whereas progesterone shortens the QT interval, see here, here, here, here and here. I'm running out of space so will start a new comment below. Take care Wray

Aug 08, 2011
Is there anything as too much Progesterone?
by: Wray

Hi Victoria It doesn't surprise me you went into instant menopause after the sad event. Stress drops progesterone levels sharply. The reason for this is the adrenals first make progesterone before converting it into cortisol, one of our stress hormone. If stressed, the adrenals rob other sources, notably the ovaries. This of course drops progesterone levels. I would like to know the amount of vitamin D you were taking and your level. The minimum dose should be 5000iu's per day, or more if levels are low. And the level should be 70-100ng/ml, doctors and labs use 30ng/ml as the cut off point. For more info see the Vitamin D Council, GrassrootsHealth and Birmingham Hospital websites. Toxicity doesn't occur until levels reach 200ng/ml, see here and here. You're taking only 100mg/day progesterone, oral progesterone is the least effective Delivery system, as most gets destroyed in the gut and liver. I suggest you change to a form which is well absorbed. I recommend 100-200mg/day, or more if symptoms are severe. It's impossible to tell how long you should use it, I for one will never stop. The chest pain will only come back if you use oestrogen. Oestrogen causes water retention, which does change the pressure in the eye. So does sugar in any form, even hidden in grains, legumes and starchy, sweet fruits and veggies. The sugars in these foods concert rapidly to glucose. Progesterone is a potent anti-inflammatory, so is vitamin D, I suggest you increase both these to help the arthritis. Rub the progesterone directly onto the sore areas. See these papers on vitamin D here, here, here, here and here. And these on progesterone here and
here. Take care Wray

Aug 10, 2011
Yes insomina & tachycardia
by: Glenys

I believe that my progesterone levels have built up and are now too high after using 20mg cream a day for 3 years with breaks each month. Now when I apply it, I have a thumping heart and cannot sleep or get to sleep, I become extremely alert. I have read that too much stored progesterone can impact on the adrenal balance of DHEA, Cortisol and Testerone which would explain my symptons. I am not sure how to reduce my stored progesterone down to normal levels.

I am 55 and take 7.5mg estriol and .075mg estradiol every other day for menopause symptons and don't believe I should continue doing this for too long without also taking progesterone.

Any ideas?

Aug 10, 2011
Vitamin D puzzle
by: Victoria

Before I started BIHRT my vitamin D level was 38.4 ng/mL. Two months ago before the episode in ER with chest pain, the level of vitamin D was 316.8 ng/mL. The ER doctor and the cardiologist said it was vitamin D that gave me heart attack symptoms.
As for estrogen, there is something I still don't understand. In August 2010, before starting BIHRT my estrogen level was 79.5, then in Nov 2010 was 41.9, Feb 2011 was 36.3 and in May 2011 it was 14. It seems to me that estrogen has dropped considerably and quite fast. Should I decrease the progesterone, too?

Aug 11, 2011
Yes insomina & tachycardia
by: Wray

Hi Glenys I don't believe you are using anywhere near enough progesterone. I recommend 100-200mg/day, up to 10 times the amount you are using. Often more is needed, especially if symptoms are severe. You are also taking oestriol and oestradiol too, so the 20mg/day progesterone will be having an uphill battle to suppress these. Oestrogen causes heart palpitations etc, please see the links I gave to Victoria on the QT interval. You might like to see our page on HRT, I don't think the risks are worth the supposed benefits, in fact I haven't found any benefits. Progesterone is excellent for sleep, see here. I've been using 170-200mg/day progesterone for 15 years and never take a break, unless a choose to experiment. I'm not sure what age you are, but we have two pages on how to use progesterone, see Peri-menopause and Menopause. If you should consider increasing the amount, please see our page on Oestrogen Dominance first. Take care Wray

Aug 11, 2011
Vitamin D puzzle
by: Wray

Hi Victoria I find it hard to believe your vitamin D was 316.8ng/ml when you were only taking 2000iu's per day. Could it be that the product you're using was incorrectly calibrated? As it takes months, if not years, to get it to the range recommended if you were using 2000iu's per day. I gave you those papers on toxicity, and how high a dose one can take before symptoms become apparent. Your dose was nowhere near the level in one of the papers. Unless you're sensitive to vitamin D as some can be, see here. It is possible for your oestrogen level to reduce if you're using progesterone. I would have to know what level this is to give you any advice on reducing it. Although as you're taking oral progesterone, I don't believe your level will be very high. I've found from saliva tests we run that the ratio of progesterone to oestrogen should be 600:1 and over. Maybe you could check on this. The most important factor is not the levels of your hormones, but how do you feel. Take care Wray

Aug 12, 2011
Progesterone Cream
by: Victoria

First, I want to thank you, Wray, for the excellent advice with progesterone. A few months ago, when I was feeling miserable, I upped my progesterone (oral) to 100mg and in less than a week I felt the improvement, then approx. 6 weeks later the estrogen dominance symptoms were back, so I upped again progesterone to 150mg. And again a week after than, may be less, I started feeling better again.

Now, I would very much like to try the progesterone cream, but I don't know how to make the transition. I understand I have to stop oral progesterone one day and start the cream the next. But how about estrogen? From what I read I think I have to do it gradually, for 2 -4 months. How can I lower the dose? I am on 0.5mg estrogen.

As for vitamin D, now I am a little afraid to try it again. But in a month I will go back to my doctor for blood tests, many of them and I will ask to include vitamin D as well. Thank you, Victoria

Aug 15, 2011
Progesterone Cream
by: Wray

Hi Victoria I'm pleased the info helped a little. If you still have the oral progesterone it seems a pity to waste it. I would suggest you use both, take the oral which will be giving you ±15 to 30mg, plus 100mg via a cream. This might not be enough, but please experiment. As I mentioned, I recommend 100-200mg/day, more if symptoms are severe. But before you do, please read our page on Oestrogen Dominance, as increasing the amount of progesterone can cause adverse symptoms. It is safe to go cold turkey on the oestrogen, but the symptoms can be rough! I do recommend gradually reducing the amount, we have info on our page Coming off HRT. You might find you can reduce quicker than outlined here, but just see how you get on. I understand your concern about the vitamin D, please contact GrassrootsHealth. I'm sure they can advise you. They are in fact doing a world wide survey on vitamin D levels, encouraging people to join their campaign. Take care Wray

Nov 19, 2011
I don’t seem to get it right
by: Victoria

I started my first Natpro on August 21. The improvements were fast and hopeful. My energy level rose up, my join pain subsided, hair improved texture, sleeping was sound and I no longer needed melatonin, I was calm and reasonable almost every minute of each day, the depression disappeared, even bloating went slowly down, I was happy. After 4 weeks I started the second Natpro tube and things went slowly in reverse. I thought it was something wrong with the cream, may be a defective tube, because I didn’t change anything else in my medication or my life style. I ordered a different progesterone cream, for comparison, Kokoro from Balance. Noting changed, actually it got worse.
It took me almost a month to realized that my thyroid was low and almost another month to figure out a new medication and a new dosage. All this time I continued taking the progesterone cream twice a day. Improvements started again, this time because of the new thyroid meds, then I got stuck to something that I didn’t experience before: very swollen upper eyelids every morning and during the day, round face, bad hair, and an abnormal drop in energy level around 4 – 5 pm, so low that it felt like general anesthesia was kicking in just before surgery. Also the sleep during the night was very profound. My fingers also got swollen, like little sausages, swollen feet. I had no idea what it was.
What happened during these almost 3 months was that I started with low doses of progesterone cream. The application being kind of approximate I used 2 squirts in the morning, one cap of 150mg bio identical progesterone mid afternoon, then 3 squirts evening. Then I started to increase the cream and in the end I was using about 3-4 squirts morning, one 150mg cap progesterone and 6 squirts evening.
Swelling didn’t stop, in fact it became worse, especially upper eyelids; in the morning I could barely open my eyes.
I stopped all progesterone for two days and it seemed that the upper eyelids were slowly deflating, and I didn’t feel the drop in energy late afternoon. But the results were only temporarily. I started reading more literature about menopause and I found out that in Europe they have a treatment that follow the normal cycle: 14 days with estrogen only, then the next 14 days with a combination of estrogen (1 or 2mg) and progesterone (10mg). The name is Femoston. I decided to follow that rule and here I am almost 2 weeks without progesterone. All this time the symptoms have remained the same: I am feeling generally OK, I have OK energy during the day, I don’t nap, I have an OK sleep at night (but it could be better), emotionally I am OK.
One thing though: when I stopped the progesterone for 2 weeks my breast had become very tender and swollen. I lowered the dose of estrogen.

Nov 19, 2011
I don’t seem to get it right - part 2
by: Victoria

I have to start a new page

The only things that I cannot get rid of are: swollen upper eyelids, sausage fingers, swollen feet, bloating and I cannot loose weight. I eat so little, I have no cravings anymore, sometimes I feel dizzy probably because of low blood sugar. My weight is still going up, but slowly this time. Is that an improvement? Black humor!
I can feel there is something wrong with me but I cannot put my finger on and I don’t know what else to try. May be cyanide?
My blood results from last month are:
Estradiol: 15.3 pg/mL
Testosterone, serum: 30ng/mL
Progesterone: 6.8 ng/mL.
The blood test was done before I stopped the progesterone.
Thyroid tests were normal.
Right now I am taking estradiol 0.5mg every other day and I will soon start bio-identical progesterone, 150mg cap along with estradiol, to follow the 14-day period.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
Victoria

Dec 14, 2014
Your Story....
by: Cindy (Austin)

is my story almost to the letter!! I know it's been years since you posted, but i'm hoping you can share how you resolved your symptoms. I am 50 yrs. old, with Hashimoto's, switched from BC pills to bioidenticals 8/29/14 (took them for years to alleviate severe pms), I too tried to play with my thyroid meds about a year and a half ago bc of symptoms like asthma, food cravings, fatigue, anxiety, brittle nails & thought it was bc of my thyroid....mistake!! I cannot take synthetic thyroid meds & it's been an uphill climb. In Aug of this year i thought that since i was already on the journey of finding optimal hormonal balance i would see a naturapath recommended by a friend & switch from bc pills to bio's. My thryoid was much better, but weight had climbed from 123lbs to 133lbs., still had brittle nails, and low energy. I have a great of confidence in my new Dr, but am tired & frustrated. Currently I have swollen, numb hands, my muscles ache in the a.m. especially difficult to walk, mild night sweats, brittle nails, lethargy & now my weight is over 140lbs!!. Initially Dr did not do bloodwork for Progesterone or Estrogen because i was on bc pills. Beginning labs were: Free T4= 1.12 (.73-1.95) Free T3= 2.9 (2.3-4.2) TPeroxidaseAB: 123 , Free Testosterone 0.1 ng/dl, SHBG= 304 NMOL/L, B12=242 pg/ml, & D3= 26. I started having symptoms a couple weeks after starting the bio's; hot flashes, swelling, numb hands, muscled aches, food cravings. Bc of my age, Dr thought it was bc of low estrogen. Several changes were made since Sept.; lowering/increasing prog, increasing estrogen, not taking b12, then taking it again, etc.
Labs 11/26/14 i was on Prog (Caps)=75mg, E2 .75 E3 1.25 (Caps), Armour 120mg, Test Cream .25/day. B12 5,000mcg, D3 5,000/day 10,000 3 x's/wk, Results= Prog =1.0, E2=61 E1=181, Total Estrogen 408, Free Testosterone=.1, SHBG=223, TPeroxidaseAB=242, Thyroglobulin AB= 8, Free T4=1.28(.73-1.95), Free T3= 5.3 (2.3-4.2), B12=1600 D3=50. On 12/3/14 Dr changed doses; Armour 105mg, Test. cream .25mg/.50 alt days, start using creams instead of caps for E2=.5/E3=.75, Prog =100mg,, Adrenal Support, Vit. D,Vit B12 stay the same, change from Estrofactors to DIM.
I don't know how much longer i can tolerate these symptoms before i go back on BC pills. I know it's not ideal, but 20lbs is too much & this swelling & muscle aches are unbearable at times. Do i need more Progesterone? I see your recommendation is from 100-200mg. Do i even need Estrogen? I decided to try not taking Estrogen for a couple of days to see what happens.
This is SO confusing & i appreciate ANY advice anyone has. I'll try just about anything.

Dec 17, 2014
Your Story....
by: Wray

Hi Cindy I know how you feel then! It was 18 years ago that I started using progesterone. I've experimented with many amounts, from the 'normal' 20-40mg/day up to 2000mg/day. I generally find I need about 3 tubes of cream a month, because I use it daily now that I'm in menopause. Actually I used it daily even when I had periods as my symptoms came back when I stopped. The three tubes are of our cream which contains 2000mg/tube. This works out at approximately 200mg/day. If stressed I'll use more. Your ratio of progesterone to oestrogen is 16:1 which is extraordinarily low. We do Saliva Tests on our cream and have found that 600:1 and over is a ratio to aim for. Some women can do with less, but it really does depend on experimenting. We do have a few pages you could look through, How to use Progesterone Cream, Peri-menopause, Menopause and Oestrogen Dominance. I don't believe we need extra oestrogen, see our page on HRT. Don't go cold turkey off the oestrogen, it's not dangerous, but symptoms can be bad. It's best to reduce slowly. Take care Wray

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