Progesterone During The First Half?

by Paula
(Pittsburgh Area)

I've been researching the benefits of progesterone for a month now and your information always seems to jive with my experiences so I've become quite confident in your advice over others. I'm 42 and have a history of depression, roller-coaster pms (sometimes not so bad with extreme symptoms like major breast tenderness, painful intercouse, cramps, strapped to the bed with fatigue, extreme emotion and cravings prior to onset - but sometimes horrible). Regardless of the intensity, I've always been chronically tired, always struggled to get out of bed in the morning for at least 3 weeks out of the month. It was so commonplace I just thought it was me until these past few years when I could see the ups and downs more definitively. The downs being a few weeks out of the month. And feeling better being about a week. Feeling great - with energy, mentality, and stamina where I could take on the world, would wake up at a decent hour with a spring in my step out of the bed - about one or two days per month. And I started recognizing that those couple of days were usually the day my period kicked in.

This past year I've had several hot flashes and began experiencing increased, abrupt moodiness. And a little more than a third of my periods of the last few years have come in 21 days instead of 28 - when as a young girl they were consistently 32 days apart. Something else going on with me these past few years is my memory not being so sharp, forgetting things nobody else does, and fogginess or difficulty focusing. Also, my hands and feet would get easily cold and remain cold when nobody else's were. This past winter was the most annoying ever - feeling cold all the time when nobody else was. I've also been so much more fatigued and having less go-go juice this past year. I have all these things in my mind I'd like to do but feel too overwhelmed to ever do them. (Last month I had my thyroid levels tested. They said they were fine. Yet, I later read that low progesterone can interfere with the performance of those levels even though they are the right amounts - causing hypo or hyper thyroid symptoms - if I interpreted correctly.)

Now, the fact is, I haven't worked (photography - which is pretty physical) since May 2010 and I do know that my symptoms always magnify when I'm not getting exercise. So, I joined a gym last month, too, to get the exercise I need to help get my hormones in better shape along with my physique. The problem is I'm so overwhelmed I struggle to get there. I had gone for a week and a half but then over Easter I ate chocolates for days not to mention the ham which ALWAYS bloats me to the point where it's difficult to move. (I found out progesterone deficiency or estrogen dominance has something to do with sodium uptake in the cells being bad.) Anyway, I felt awful the week after Easter and then the following week, ovulated, which commensed my pms which was horrible. I wasn't just irritable, I was outright angry, boiling inside, feeling like everyone was against me, ready to defend myself at every turn. I'm normally patient and understanding but found myself infuriated with rude drivers and such. Not to mention my cravings were through the roof and I was getting SHARP premenstrual cramps. And as usual, getting out of bed was horrendous.

Fortunately, I had been researching the progesterone and had ordered Dr. Lee's Progesterall and it arrived eight days before my cycle was to begin. In fact, it arrived during the couple of days I literally felt like a monster with anger. Unfortunately but fortunately, he says to do 20 mg while his bottle says to do one or two dots. So, I did two thinking that was the 20mg. The fortunate part is my dots were more than twice the dot size they recommend and I learned later that one dot is 20mg so it turns out I was getting 80mg per application. Well, the next morning I woke up as if it was NOTHING. No strain. No dragging feeling. And my anger, my fury... was GONE! My mental fog, gone!

Now, I confess that even though Dr. Lee says 20mg is suffice which is what I thought I had taken, I found myself starting to feel bad and angry 12 hours after I took it so I took another dot before going to bed which was probably more than 40mgs. So, I was unwittingly already using the 100 to 200mg you suggest. (Then I read where you say 20mg is laughable - that we need 100-200mg; and also how you said progesterone levels drop after 13 hours which confirmed what I experienced! Then I discovered your tubes contain twice as much progesterone for about the same price so I'm going to order yours from now on!)

Back to the positive effects.... The next day I had so much go-go juice I went and bought the soil and flowers for my landscaping and spent the entire day at it. Due to the tremendous physical workout I "knew" I would NOT be able to get out of bed the next morning. I would be immobile for that reason alone. And we had to be somewhere around 9 a.m. so I was so worried at facing the morning. But despite my soarness I sprung right up out of bed like it was nothing! I couldn't believe it!

Sure enough, though, I was noticing that after twelve hours I would feel myself go down hill. It was crazy. Even felt more sore. So, I'd take a big dot or two and would feel better within 45 minutes. That is until about the third day before my cycle was to start. I always spot that day - which I did as usual. But I started feeling wierd. Agitated in a different way. I was probably getting 150 to 200mg total for the day but my sleep was disruptive, anxious like. So I thought perhaps my body wants to go into a mode to get my cycle started and the progesterone is fighting with it? Wasn't sure but stopped taking it and felt good the next day. Didn't want to get out of bed, but wasn't angry and wiped out the whole day, either. I also noticed that my carpul tunnel symptoms which seemed higher the day before when I was feeling wierd went back to a minimal as well.

So, I waited and a couple days later my cycle began. But much to my dismay, it wasn't enlightening like it is most of the time. There were no major bad symptoms, but there were no elevations in good things. I noticed my hunger/cravings weren't raging but the 2nd day after it started I was somewhat craving things - which is unusual. I used to go a week feeling, "wow, it's great that food has no power over me right now. I could care less about it!" But this wasn't the case.

Then I noticed I started to feel irritable again. Not crazy angry like before, just somewhat. By the end of the third day I even felt some slight cramping even though the flow was greatly reduced to almost spotting.

Then yesterday, I awoke with a headache and as the day progressed, became quite angry and unable to shake it off. The ibuprofen eliminated the morning headache but it returned by evening and it took three hours (two doses) of ibuprofen to alleviate the headache. Now this morning... as usual, I didn't want to wake up.

All the research tells perimenopausal women to not take progesterone until they ovulate because they are supposed t be estrogen dominant the first half of the cycle. But should I be feeling like this? Is it possible my estrogen is tooo high and I need progesterone now, also? You said that it takes at least 400mg to keep the next cycle from starting so why can't a woman take 100mg or even 50mg during the time estrogen is supposed to be dominant - especially if it is too dominant? Or - could it be that estrogen is too low for me right now?

I need to get to the gym and exercise. I know this plays a huge factor in helping things balance out. I also take Fish Oil, Krill Oil, Vitamin D3, B6 and St. John's Wort. I actually started on these years ago because they help with my symptoms. But they just don't seem to be enough anymore. And I haven't been eating junk food, any sugary drinks or desserts for ten days.

I get that all these factors play a role. Perhaps after exercising for a few months I will not be having low progesterone symptoms as severely and won't need as much. But for now, like right this minute, I am not down and out with horrible symptoms but I don't have go-go juice. The idea of getting to the gym or doing anything is a bit overwhelming. So, would progesterone help me now? Will it help me want to get up in the morning if I take a little?

Thanks so much for your help! I appreciate you very much.

Comments for Progesterone During The First Half?

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May 25, 2011
Progesterone During The First Half?
by: Wray

Hi Paula It's evident you do need progesterone, because of the way you responded to it. I'm very relieved you read the instructions incorrectly too! Dependant on the symptoms, I have found 20mg/day far too little for most of us. I still use 170mg/day, and that's after 15 years of using it. As an aside, your symptoms echoed mine to a T, except I was spared the menstrual cramps thanks heavens. The fatigue in the mornings was awful, having to drag yourself out of bed. I added procrastination to the list of normal PMS symptoms, as I could never bring myself to start anything new, or even finish what I had started! The anger boiled in me too, not knowing why was possibly the worst part, I had nothing to be angry about. Thank heavens it's all in the past, I'm sure I would have done myself in, or someone else the way I was headed. Oestrogen should be dominant in the first half of the cycle. But once in Peri-menopause ovulation becomes more and more infrequent, until we hit Menopause when it stops. It's this anovulation which causes the adverse symptoms, as there is little to no progesterone to counter the oestrogen we make. It is possible to use the progesterone daily. In fact when I started using it I tried following my cycle, but found during the break all my symptoms came back. Having been without them for a couple of weeks, if anything they appeared worse. Luckily Dr Dalton was still alive, so I phoned her and she told me to use it daily, and not to take a break. Well I did and have never looked back. I was 48 when I started it, so I only had a few years till menopause hit. Your cycles appear regular, but shortening. I would suggest you try to follow them, which would mean starting the progesterone on day 7, as that's when you should be ovulating. But as you are having severe symptoms now, I also suggest for the next 2-3 months that you use it daily with no break. Once you feel well enough, you can go back to following the cycle if you wish. Some women prefer having a break, as they believe it's more natural. I must confess I would rather have no symptoms, than have a break and get them! You'll have to experiment, with timing and the amount you use. I'm pleased you've found levels drop after about 12 or so hours, it ties in with research. In fact I have some women who use it hourly. I use it as and when needed, the amount varying dependant on how I feel. I'm running out of space, so will start a new comment below. Take care Wray

May 25, 2011
Progesterone During The First Half?
by: Wray

Hi again Paula There is no hard and fast rule about how to use it, or where to apply it either. The skin has 95% kerotinocytes, these have ample progesterone receptor sites. It's wonderful in the vagina for dryness and inflammation, the best thing I've found for burns, on the face too, see here. Incidentally progesterone is excellent for headaches see here, here, here, here and here. Whereas oestrogen, being an inflammatory hormone, causes them. I always suggest rubbing the cream all over the neck, face and especially under the ears when they occur. All the supplements you're taking are good, but are you taking enough vitamin D? I'm as hooked on this as I am on progesterone. In fact research on traumatic brain injury victims has found a lack of vitamin D reduces the benefits of progesterone. The minimum dose should be 5000iu's per day, and the blood level should be 70-100ng/ml. Please consider having a test done, as a lack of it also causes depression. For more info please see the Vitamin D council and GrassrootsHealth websites. Many thanks for the kind words too, I do try to inform people as best I can, or at least give them the necessary studies so they can make an informed decision themselves. And to de-mystify progesterone! Take care Wray

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