Progesterone Deficiency?

by Shalene

I think my problems started 21 years ago when I had acupuncture to increase my breast size, which involved stimulating oestrogen production. After about a year of acupuncture I started developing gastro problems and severe bloating and fluid retention around mid-cycle. Firstly for one day a month and quickly increasing to 10 days a month. And then continuous severe gastro symptoms all day, every day, but worsening mid-cycle. I was soon diagnosed with severe IBS and put on anti-spasmodics which do nothing.

My doctor also put me onto progesterone tablets for the mid-cycle complains which did over time reduce the severity and length of time I suffered the worst symptoms at mid-cycle, but still the continuous IBS symptoms.

My biggest ongoing issue is IBS - constant bloating, cramping, gas, diahorrea. As I am constantly researching this condition, my theory is it relates to progesterone deficiency more than anything else. All foods make me sick and it is a constant all day every day thing, I'll get maybe 2 hours a morning of mild to moderate relief at best.

My doctor at the moment wants me to cut down and ultimately stop taking the progesterone tablets, which I want to do too, but many times I have tried to stop taking them and all the symptoms come back with a venguence within a week of stopping the progesterone tabs.

For the past 5 months I have been taking half a tablet per day and have noticed an increase in symptoms of the IBS in particular nausea, gas, bloating, diarhorrea, cramping as well as sore breasts that lasts about a week or so and soreness and tenderness like I have never felt before. Now for the past 3 weeks (I am 48) I am waking up almost every night in a hot sweat 1 to 4 times a night, tossing and turning, unable to get to sleep, IBS symptoms have gotten worse than ever.

Everthing I have read about eostrogen dominance and progesterone deficiency makes perfect sense to me.

I have ordered a tube of your progesterone cream, my question is what would be the best routine to follow for taking it - the routine for menopause? Going off HRT?

I had a hysterectomy when I was 32, but I can still tell when I cycle due to the worsening of IBS symptoms around mid-cycle, tho I have noticed that for the past year or so this is not every month, it can sometimes be a month apart, sometimes 2 plus months apart.

Right now, I'm such a mess, so fed up and ready to give up, but that won't do, it's not in my nature to give up.

Comments for Progesterone Deficiency?

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Aug 08, 2011
Progesterone Deficiency?
by: Wray

Hi Shalene I can't believe you've had to put up with this for so long, and no one able to find the reason either. There does seem to be a link to the menstrual cycle. I take it the 'progesterone' tablets were not, and were in fact a progestin? As you ask about coming off the HRT. If they are progestins, then yes I would advise Coming off them. It's not dangerous to do so cold turkey, although symptoms can be bad. But the link I've given you explains what to do. It's interesting you can still tell when you cycle, and it's evident from what you say that you are now in Peri-menopause. Your age suggests it too. But as you've had a hyst, the best routine to follow would be the one on our Menopause page. Although I do believe you are short of progesterone, I think above all you are very short of vitamin D. You live in Australia, with to my mind their dangerous policy of covering up when in the sun. This means vitamin D levels are low, even in tropical Queensland, see here and here. Please have a test done. For more info see the Vitamin D Council, GrassrootsHealth and Birmingham Hospital websites. Vitamin D is vital for a healthy gut, see here and here. Although you have researched your symptoms, has anyone checked for celiac disease? As your gut symptoms suggest it. Vitamin D can be low in this condition, see here. And bacterial overgrowth, I take it you've looked at that, see here. I'm running out of space so will start a new comment below. Take care Wray

Aug 08, 2011
Progesterone Deficiency?
by: Wray

Hi Shalene Mixing starches with protein causes gas and bloating, wheat being a major contributor to this. In fact all grains should be avoided, see here, here, here, here and here. Although you don't have mesenteritis, this paper is fascinating, as it describes successful treatment with oral progesterone, see here. This is the least effective delivery system, but evidently in this case it helped. Another fascinating paper describes how progesterone injections benefited patients with traumatic brain injury. TBI causes inflammatory cytokines to develop in the gut, progesterone reverses this, see
Do you in fact have IBS, and not an inflammatory bowel disease? The sore breasts could be due to a lack of progesterone, or iodine, or both. See these papers on progesterone here, here, here, here, here and here. And these on iodine here, here, here and here. An easy way to find out if the level is low is to get a tincture of iodine. Put 3 drops anywhere on the inner arm, rubbing them in with the dropper. If the patch fades in a few hours it means there's a deficiency. Continue applying it until the patch takes days to fade. Alternatively have a blood test. I've found hot flushes and night sweats respond to 400mg/day progesterone. The amount should be reduced slowly once they've resolved. Before you start the progesterone please read our page on Oestrogen Dominance, as this can occur. Take care Wray

Aug 10, 2011
Progesterone Deficiency and other horrors
by: Shalene

Hello Wray, Thank you for your response. Wow - a lot to take in there.

Yes, the progesterone tablets are progestin. Have tried stopping them cold turkey several times, but as you say symptoms are bad.

As for the vitamin D, I get a good half hour to an hour of sun every day - never did go along with the paranoid stay out of the sun campaign.

Celiac disease - I had a colonoscopy 16 years ago and another just last year which both ruled out any thing like this. Everything was normal they said - my response 'this is far far from normal'.

Bacterial overgrowth - I have taken acidophillus for the past 20 years and 2 years ago switched to drinking home made kefir.

I don't eat wheat - I do eat Rye and oats.

Eating anything causes bloating and gas - even if I don't eat anything I still get bloated up and full of gas - in fact, by the time I sit down to eat my dinner I already have a belly load of gas and feel full and it's very difficult to eat anything cos I just never feel like eating.

I will read up on the links in your message that I have not yet read.

I am sure that there is much more going on than IBS, but the doctors here really just don't want to know about it - if I tell them symptoms I've having that don't match with what the textbook says regarding IBS, they simply just don't believe me.

The first colonoscopy I had - I hadn't eaten peas for over 2 years, but had been passing peas on a regular basis and the colonoscopy prep cause at another peas to be passed plus I was still passing peas ages after the colonoscopy, I told the gastro who did the colonoscopy this, and he just simply did not believe me saying I must have eaten peas and not realized. I had been deliberately avoiding peas because of this keeping passing them when I hadn't eaten them. I even took in evidence to one appointment and his response was Oh you must have had them at a restaurant and not realized. I don't eat out - I can't because of the IBS, everything I eat I prepare myself at home, I don't even buy peas. I was still passing peas 6 years after I had eaten any.

Thank you again for your response - it means a lot to me that you have taken the time to read about my sitch and give just a long and detailed response.

Aug 11, 2011
Progesterone Deficiency and other horrors
by: Wray

Hi Shalene You have tried everything, but I'm still amazed the doctors can't help. I see I didn't ask you about Candida, is this a possibility? There's another thing I didn't suggest, which you might consider doing. And that's a colon cleanse, see here. I know several people who have used the Blessed Herbs kit and found it excellent. I've done one, but with another brand. It's quite taxing, but does get the whole intestine clean. It seems you could have diverticuli, as the pockets created could easily hold peas for years, only to be released later, see here and here. And yet you say you had a colonoscopy which showed no abnormality. Could they have missed it? So maybe it is a fungal problem causing the bloating? But I'm sure you must have diverticuli, nothing would hold peas for years, except a pocket in the intestines. A cleanse would remove everything from it. Take care Wray

Jun 27, 2014
My experience & advice
by: Kirren

Hi Shalene,

I am so sorry to hear that you have been going through this for so long. I have had the same problems for 2 years, but also a few others which I'll mention incase you have them too. For the first 18 months I frequently went freezing cold and my lips and fingers went blue within an hr of eating. I also had frequent debilitating fatigue, headaches, night sweats, low grade fevers, dry cracked skin between my fingers, joint pain and instability and muscle weakness. I also had terrible anxiety, mood swings etc. since I stopped taking the contraceptive pill 15 months ago I have not had a period, not even a trace.

I hope you have had more done than just colonoscopies, because that only looks at the colon and terminal ileum. I had an MRI and small bowel follow through, pillcam (capsule endoscopy), endoscopy, laparoscopy, hysteroscopy and multiple ultrasounds. They were all inconclusive but I would hope you've at least had an endoscopy to check your stomachs and duodenum. Crohns can affect any part of the digestive tract, which is why a pillcam is worth having to look at the entire tract. If you've had an endoscopy and colonoscopy then Medicare would cover most of it, otherwise it's about $2000 without private health cover.

I have recently been diagnosed with advanced adrenal fatigue, which is likely the cause of every problem I have. I had a cortisol saliva test which confirmed it. I also have undetectable levels of progesterone, low oestrogen, nil testosterone, low zinc, low potassium and low vit D.

It was a doctor at Peninsula Holistic General Practice in Rosebud, Vic who discovered this. A lot of drs don't recognise adrenal fatigue until it becomes adrenal failure, although it is a real condition.

It is possible that you have IBS, as the symptoms can be severe. It could also be gluten intolerance, as tests dot always show it up, especially if you avoid wheat, best way is to come off all gluten (wheat, rye and barley) and beware of it being hidden in things like soy sauce.

I have also been lucky enough to get referred to professor Peter Gibson at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, at their Functional Gut disorder clinic. He confounded the low fodmap diet, which I really hope you will try because it is the only scientifically proven diet to reduce or eliminate symptoms of IBS. He is also doing a research trial on hypnotherapy which I have been a part of (as a patient) and past studies indicate it is equally if not more effective than the diet.

I really hope that you will look up the low fodmap diet and also insist on an endoscopy (gastroscopy) if you haven't had one.

I really hope this helps and please feel free to ask me any questions if you want to know more.

Take care and I wish you a full recovery.


Mar 21, 2015
by: Suzanne

Shaylene or Kirren, either one of you still out there. I have the same issues you've both have had. Wondering if you have found answers? Thanks!

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