scared to mess with my hormones any more

by Mary
(North Carolina)

HI. I was wondering if you could give me your opinion on lowering estrogen levels by taking supplements like magnesium, b6, b complex DIM and calcium-d-glucarate instead of having to use progesterone. I have been using progesterone for the past three months during the second half of my cycle. I am gaining weight, which is very concerning to me. I am using anywhere from 25-50 mg/day. When I increase to closer to 100 mg a day, by breasts become VERY sore and tender. I read your other answers about using 100-200 mgs a day, but I am concerned about how that will affect my breast tenderness and weight gain. I am also concerned about having my progesterone levels SO high, as I know it increases levels WAY above recommended amounts on blood tests using that much. The progesterone however has helped me a lot with anxiety and nervousness and irritability. It seems like I'm taking enough to overcome the problems I started for, but am having these other side effects. Thank you.

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Jun 25, 2012
additional info
by: Mary

I am also confused about the term estrogen dominance. It seems like on this site its termed for what happens when you take the progesterone and get adverse side effects. I am trying to decide if I should be taking the progesterone at all. The reasons for me taking it are PMS symptoms, irritability an nervousness during luteal phase, acne along my jawline, and very low libido. I am 37 years old. I was assuming that I had too high levels of estrogen. My doc. checked my progesterone levels only and found them to be normal--10 ng/ml. Should I be taking progesterone if my levels are showing normal? I feel improved on a lower dose of progesterone 22-50 mg /day in the irritablitly dept. but acne is still there and weight gain. When I increase the dose I actually think I feel worse, and breasts get tender. Just want to make sure its OK to use the cream if my levels are showing normal or to take 100-200 mg dose. By the way, my vitamin D level is 67 which I was told was very good. Thank you so much!

Jun 26, 2012
scared to mess with my hormones any more
by: Wray

Hi Mary Unfortunately the amount you're using will help with some things, but can cause weight gain. It is essential to use enough to overcome the Oestrogen Dominance. This is a term coined by Dr Lee and is useful in gathering under one phrase the symptoms which can be caused by excess oestrogen. These are more often than not caused by our endogenous oestrogen, ie we make too much and have little or no progesterone to counter it. It can occur at ovulation if the progesterone surge does not accompany the oestrogen surge prior to ovulation. It can occur throughout the luteal phase if the corpus luteum makes insufficient progesterone. Commonly called a defective luteal phase. It also occurs the few days prior to bleeding. It occurs if an anovulatory cycle takes place, if there's no ovulation, no progesterone is made. This is common in women with PCOS. It's common too after the age of 35 when we begin getting these cycles. And it's very common in Peri-menopause with it's increasing frequency of anovulatory cycles. Finally it occurs if insufficient progesterone is used when first starting it, or when increasing it by too little, or decreasing too suddenly. Oestrogen is an excitatory, inflammatory hormone, it's also a mitogen, causing cells to proliferate, including fat cells. These secrete oestrogen, so a vicious cycle starts. Progesterone cannot cause weight gain as it inhibits mitosis. Oestrogen also causes water retention, progesterone is an excellent diuretic, see our page on Traumatic Brain Injury. By only increasing to near 100mg/day is not sufficient either, it will cause adverse symptoms too. This is often found especially in women who have high oestrogen levels. We've found from Saliva Tests we run that the ratio is best if it's over 600:1. The naturopath that runs them for us has a ratio of 800:1 which pleases her. We do have a page on Breast Tenderness which explains why it occurs. Continued below.

Jun 26, 2012
I am interested also
by: Anonymous

I am interested in this also

Jun 26, 2012
scared to mess with my hormones any more Part 2
by: Wray

Hi Mary The only nutrient which will actually help lower oestrogen is the calcium D-glucarate, the others won't. I can't say if it will help sufficiently either, but you could certainly try it. We also have a page on How to use progesterone cream you could look through too. And you might like to read through these comments here, here, here and here from women who used high amount. You have all the symptoms of low progesterone but you show that your levels are normal. But what were your oestrogen levels, as it's the ratio between the two which is critical, not so much the amount of each. Your vitamin D level is very good, wonderful news. It's more often than not far too low. On one of the links above, a woman mentions how once she'd increased her vitamin D levels, her persistent symptoms went, in spite of using very high amounts of progesterone. Take care Wray

Jun 26, 2012
A few more questions if you don't mind :)
by: Mary

Hi Wray! Thank you SO very much for taking time to write me and thank you for your extensive website of info. It has been extremely helpful! My doctor did not check my estrogen levels, only progesterone. But I am scheduled to have a recheck on my blood on the 21st day of my next cycle (estrogen as well). I had increased my dosage of progesterone cream last night from about 30 to about 160, but at this point it is only a few days before I expect to start my period. This may have been a bad time to start this increase? Last night I had a hard time sleeping, just very alert and jittery feeling and foggy headed(and have felt like this all day today).

What is your advise for a dose to start at for me 100? or more like 150 mgs?

When you say in other posts to increase if you're feeling adverse side effects, how do I increase? By how much in one day? and do I give that dose a couple of days before increasing again? How high do you advise going for someone who has what I would consider mild to moderate symptoms?

Also, do I stop with the cream when I expect to start my period? or will my period start on its own for sure even using the cream? I am currently using Source Naturals Progesterone cream which has 500 mg per oz. I don't know if you know anything about that. Thank you so VERY much!!

Jun 28, 2012
A few more questions if you don't mind :)
by: Wray

Hi Mary I don't mind how many questions you ask me, it can be confusing. Especially as I have very contradictory views to others! They are mine of course and no one need take heed, but pleasing for me that those who have, have generally been helped. The amount to use is always trial and error, no one, even the person suffering the symptoms, has any idea how it will proceed. Symptoms of excess oestrogen can appear out of the blue too, which makes it all the more confusing. Having the blood test done on day 21 is correct if you have a 28 day cycle. Progesterone peaks mid-luteal phase, so too does oestrogen. It's this ratio which is needed, so I'm glad they're doing both hormones. Increasing progesterone the few days before your period is not a bad idea, in fact many women do this each month. As it's those last few days which are often the worst. I gave you the other times the adverse symptoms can occur too. It's evident you do have excess oestrogen, your reaction to the progesterone speaks volumes. Please persevere with the amount you're using, you can increase it too, see how you get on. And re-read those comments I gave you from other women who had to use high amounts initially. You'll notice from these it does take time to settle down. The amount to increase by is impossible for me to tell you, you'll notice one woman was using 250mg/day, but chose to go up to 500mg/day and her symptoms stopped. But she did have asthma which requires very high amounts. The amount to use is always based on symptoms, the idea being to use enough progesterone to stop them. Once under control it can then be reduced slowly over a few weeks. If you wish to follow your cycle you should stop when you get your period. Initially progesterone can upset the cycle, there's info about this on our 'how to use' page. Periods only stop when using 400mg/day or more. The cream you are currently using contains 16mg per ml of cream, so it's not a very high strength. You must be using about 2tsp if you say you're getting about 160mg/day progesterone. If it contains 2oz, at that rate one tube will last you 6 days. Take care Wray

Jun 28, 2012
Dosage
by: Lisa

Hi Mary,

I'm not sure this will help but this is my experience. Like you I was initially using too little cream. I raised from 40mg/day to 160-200mgs/day and used that much for 3 months in a row with no break. After the 3 months I took only 1 week break during my period. I still do this. I noticed after the first 3 months on the high dose my breast tenderness went away. In the following months no more irritability, PMS, back pain or acne. Please be patient as it takes months sometimes for our bodies to respond and even out. Good Luck!

Lisa

Jun 29, 2012
Dosage
by: Wray

Hi Lisa Thanks so much for these words of encouragement for Mary. It really does take perseverance and a high amount. Take care Wray

Jul 17, 2012
Still Trying to find correct dosage
by: Mary

Hello again. Well, I'm back, after taking a break from the prog. cream during follicular phase, I'm back on it again, taking approx. 160 mg/day, divided. Thank you so much Wray for your help, and Lisa, for writing in, it is always so encouraging to hear the success that others have had. I am still rather confused about finding my correct dose though. I think it makes me uneasy that I had a lot of relief from my symptoms of irritability and anxiety, PMS (which were my main complaints) when on 40 mg/day. My adverse symptoms from that dose were some weight gain, and sore breasts, which I did not have before using progesterone. SInce I have upped my dose to 160 mg. I am feeling more irritable than before, and breasts have gotten very sore.(I will try the iodine on my arm today) My symptoms this month I noticed started a few days before I ovulated(irritable, water retention), and I started the prog. after ovulation.
I just finished reading your page on testing, and I am about to have my blood levels checked this week to hopefully get an idea of my ratio of estrogen to progesterone. It worries me a little though after reading that page, that I am actually raising my hormones levels to MUCH higher than will show on my blood test. I'm not sure my doctor has any experience with saliva testing, or with high estrogen levels. Do you believe, Wray, that my blood test will show an accurate ratio of estrogen to progesterone, and do you recommend regular testing?
Also, how will I know when I have a high enough dose. As I said, I felt much better on the 40 mg dose, and the more I increase, the worse I feel.
How long do I stay on 160 before increasing again? I think I read once that you said one would always have oestrogen dominance symptoms when increasing a dose, so I just wonder how long one goes before increasing again. The symptoms are not super severe, I just don't feel myself,I am irritable and emotional.
Have you EVER had anyone be better on a lower dose? Also, after finding the correct dose, do you ever find that anyone is able to reduce to under 100 mgs long term, or is 100 mgs pretty much the minimum for long term use in your findings?
Also, does taking so much progesterone cause my body to make less on its own, because there is already so much there?
I am also curious as to why you don't ever recommend women taking testosterone. Another major complaint I had to my doctor was very low libido. She prescribed me 1 mg of testosterone topically, and after 3 weeks, it helped my libido SIGNIFICANTLY. It was truly a blessing to my husband and I both after many years of struggling with this, but when my period came, my jawline acne was VERY bad that month, so I stopped. I thought I would try to get my progesterone right first, as to just sort of "mess with one thing at a time"
Thank you SO VERY MUCH for your time! I am sorry for SO many questions!!

Jul 17, 2012
Uh oh, should I have stopped cream for my test
by: Mary

Hi Wray,
I was also just reading more on the site, and I was wondering if I shouldn't be CURRENTLY be using the cream since I am getting blood tests done this week? Do you have any research by chance that can calm my fears about raising my progesterone levels to too high of a level? I just want to make sure that there is evidence that there are no long term side effects to having progesterone levels far above the recommended ranges, and an P:E ratio above those ranges as well. which I am pretty sure I will have on the higher dose? Thank you again!

Jul 17, 2012
Forgot to mention
by: Mary

Sorry, I also forgot to mention that my free testosterone levels were low when tested, .3pg/mL, which is why my doc. felt ok in prescribing it. Would love to have that libido back again if it weren't for the acne :)

Jul 18, 2012
Uh oh, should I have stopped cream for my test
by: Wray

Hi Mary It's always a difficult decision, to use any progesterone, to use only a little and get other symptoms, or to use a high amount. You could try stopping it completely and see if the nutrients listed on our Anxiety page will help your original problems of anxiety, nervousness and irritability. Or you could do what Lisa did and use it without a break for 2-3 months. I often suggest this if women are having a tough time. Each time you stop it allows oestrogen to rise again. Plus you have only been using it for just over 3 weeks. It normally takes 3 months or longer for things to settle down. The tests will show how much progesterone and oestrogen you have, they are usually very accurate. Your ratio can only be worked out after the test, and yes it will probably show a high level of progesterone. We do have more info on our page progesterone levels, you'll find it in the left hand margin of every page. On it you'll find a link to an article by Dr Zava who runs ZRT Labs. He explains about the high results obtained via saliva testing if using supplemental progesterone. I don't think tests are necessary, they are of academic interest to me. You're only using about 160mg/day, Dr Dalton would give 2400mg/day to some of her patients, see here. Very few who write in do better on a low amount, in fact the reason they write in the first place, is because they feel awful or have weight gain. Progesterone can act as a contraceptive if starting it a few days before ovulation. Or using it during the entire follicular phase. So as this stops ovulation, progesterone secretion stops. If starting it at ovulation it doesn't. Most women find they can reduce the amount once symptoms have calmed down, the amount varies in each. It seems they opt for 100-150mg/day. Plus it is necessary to increase the amount if any stress occurs, I always give myself a top up if I'm stressed. Continued below.

Jul 18, 2012
Uh oh, should I have stopped cream for my test Part 2
by: Wray

Hi Mary I think you've answered my question about why I never recommend testosterone to a woman! Not only does it cause Acne, but oily skin and hair, facial hair and scalp hair loss. It also increases visceral fat, in fact testosterone is the reason middle aged women get a middle aged spread, see here and here. But of far greater concern is the increased risk of getting cancer and heart disease, see here, here, here, here here, here, here, here and here. There is some doubt that it's actually testosterone which increases libido. There's evidence it could be progesterone, very strong evidence it's dopamine. There's evidence dopamine uses the progesterone receptor, it could be it also uses the testosterone receptor, although I haven't found any papers on this yet. There's no doubt the three hormones interact with each other. So possibly a small amount of testosterone activates progesterone and libido rises. Take care Wray

Feb 09, 2013
Hope you get this comment
by: Tiffany

Hi Mary. I hope that you get this comment since your last post was in July 2012. I ran across your post trying to look at others that have tried Calcium D-Glucarate. It was mentioned by Wray in one of her replies to you. I decided to post because I hope you haven't given up. Also, because some of what you've gone through is similar to what I have gone through. I have been using progesterone cream (Natpro) off and on for 4 years. I have had many ups and downs. Lots of arguments with doctors that have come and gone. In the last 2 months, I have been on 400mg or more of progesterone cream daily. Finally, I am seeing improvements. I thought my writing you about how I understand/do this cream thing might help you.

Over the years I have been scared to up my dose of cream too high. For 4 years before my cream usage, I was on all sorts of doctor prescibed medicines and had lots of reactions, which is the main reason I was scared of a high dose. I decided to take the plunge about 2 months ago and use 400mg daily because I was at my wits end. I am very glad I did. In this time my libido has increased, acne has gone away, night sweats are minimal and only during the luteal phase, and I feel much calmer. Still working on breast tenderness, but even it has gotten better. I feel less anxious, depressed, and crazy for lack of a better word. I actually feel when I need to use more cream now. I call it a bump. So, how do I know when to use more? If after 20 minutes of putting on the cream, I don't feel a calmness or relief of anxiousness, I go add more. I then wait another 20 minutes or so and put more on if I still feel crappy. Sometimes I just know I need more, like today for instance. Today I have gone back for more cream a few times. I also started with more than usual to begin with this morning. The gist of this is: Use more not less, even if your progesterone levels are "within normal ranges" because the ratio of estrogen to progesterone is probably still off. Not to mention, what exactly is a "normal range"? Every woman and man is as unique as their fingerprint, we have to find our own "normal". Mine or yours my be off the charts high on progesterone to make us feel good until things become "our normal" again. These days I am not worrying so much about levels, but more about how I feel. I also suggest that you try Calcium D-Glucarate to rid your body of excess bad estrogens. I have noticed a big difference since I began taking it. For reference purposes, my last tests (over 6 months ago) showed that my estrogen levels were all low, along with low testosterone and ultra low progesterone. My ratio is backwards, which definitely shows estrogen dominance even with low estrogen levels.

Eventually I know that I won't need such a high dose of progesterone cream anymore, and that I'll be able to find a maintenance dose that is just right for me. Hope this helped. Good luck to you!

Feb 12, 2013
Hope you get this comment
by: Wray

Hi Tiffany Bless you for telling Mary this, even if she doesn't see it, maybe others will. I'm so pleased you're using it as and when needed. And realise your levels might be off the charts high, as it is with Jennifer, see here. She's very concerned about it, but still doesn't feel right. I've told her it's not dangerous, see here. But if that concerned to stop it and see how she then feels. It does take time to come right, and levels might be very high, but the body can't metabolise it that quickly, so will remain high. Until such time as a person feels well enough to begin reducing it very slowly. I once read an article by an enlightened doctor, that it was necessary to bathe the cells in a nutrient. Rather than give the RDA which is far too small to do much. I feel the same applies to progesterone. Take care Wray

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