Years of natural progesterone use, but what I'm reading here (+ my symptoms) confuses me...

by SugarMags
(Down by the River)

Hi Wray,

I am very much enjoying the wealth of information here.

I am 46 yrs young, petite build, but about 30 lbs over my idea weight. I have been dealing with a luteal phase defect for many many years. Had two miscarriages in my mid-20s before I knew about it, and then it was my doctor's "guess" which turned out to be correct (endometrial biopsy and blood work up showed "normal" but he said "try progesterone anyway"). I went on to have 4 babies after that, using progesterone each time.

Fast forward about 10 years, and I was having a lot of weird symptoms....didn't see the connections.....finally I realized they were all hormone related, and I had all the symptoms of perimenopause. So I started on Progest regularly, and I got my life back. I used a very small amount -- about a pea-size blop on my wrists twice a day.

Later, I saw a naturopath because I was having anxiety attacks and paranoia about my health. She gave me "Rx strength" natural progesterone....but I could not get near the stuff without my symptoms going off the charts! Even the tiniest bit sent me through the roof with hot flashes, sore breasts, bloating, moodiness, name it.

So I went back to Progest, and all was well again. I learned other ways to manage my anxiety and paranoia, and overall I felt much better.

Then I went through another period of severe stress (divorce, move to another state, kids going through lots of problems as a result) and hormones got all wacky again. But Progest was seeing me through -- I needed more, but it was working pretty well to keep things manageable.

Over the almost four years since then, I have used Progest to varying degrees, depending on my symptoms. I go entirely by how I feel. If I feel good, I'm using the right amount. Rarely more than that pea-size dollop on the wrists 2x/day. Sometimes barely using it at all, because I forget. Not very scientific, I realize.

The past year or so, I've needed much, much less Progest...and in fact, got down to none at all for the past 6 mos or so. I just didn't think about it, because I wasn't having symptoms that made me aware of any need. I felt great. My only complaints would be cold feet, muscle tension (but that's mainly a problem of ergonomics and working on a computer all day), and some manageable anxiety/paranoia. Still not at my ideal weight, but I have been making lots of strides toward a much healthier diet (organic, whole, raw, grass-fed, reducing hormones and chemicals and sugar, etc).

During these same years, I have seen my periods reduce a lot. I'm down to about twice a year....which is kinda nice, really :) but I want to understand if it's a problem, or a nice normal fact of being close to menopause. I keep wishing I would just go a whole year without, so I could say "I'm done!" lol -- but then I wonder if I maybe would be cycling more often if I were taking progesterone.

This past month or two, I started reevaluating my progesterone use. I was having some symptoms of anxiety and paranoia again, along with muscle tension, headaches, vag dryness, cold feet, and water retention. In my research, I came across your site and learned that perhaps my progesterone use had never really been high enough, and possibly I was triggering more estrogen production by using "not quite enough" progesterone.

So I decided to try going all out....did the math and increased my dosage by putting it on many times per day, and aiming for that 100-200mg mark as best I could.

The result has been less than stellar. I seem to be experiencing estrogen dominance symptoms again -- tender, full breasts, bloating, aches and pains, tension. I've had surges of warmth in strange places....not a standard hot flash, but a feeling of a hormonal surge in my legs much like I would have before going into labor. And I had a full blown period again...first time since September, complete with cramps and PMS, which I haven't had in years. Once it started in earnest, I went off the progesterone....but the breast tenderness was so bad I had to use a little progesterone each day just to take the edge off. It's been almost a week now of heavy bleeding, and a very little bit of progesterone each day, and I'm about ready to gradually increase the progesterone so the bleeding can taper off and stop (this has been my technique whenever bleeding threatens to last for over a seems to work, most of the time).

Right now, I'm sitting here with breasts that look (and feel!) like I am ready to feed a hungry baby, knees that ache for no good reason, and a general "fluttery" feeling that I know well to be hormonal. And I could swear I've gained several inches around my hips and thighs, and have not *lost* a single inch around my waist (which is indeed what happened when I was most "balanced"....I got back down to my ideal weight, without even trying!)

I don't know how to make sense of all this. My first reaction is to say that too much progesterone is really messing me up! And that fits my long-ago experience with "Rx strength" natural progesterone, whatever that was. But OTOH, how could such a low dose for all these years have been working just fine, if it was actually triggering more estrogen? I am confused now, and really hope you can give me some feedback on all this.

I'd be happy to provide additional information....I've been torn between saying too little and writing a novel about my experiences. :)

Thanks in advance for your reply, and bless you for all the wonderful work you're doing for women here.

~ SugarMags

Comments for Years of natural progesterone use, but what I'm reading here (+ my symptoms) confuses me...

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Apr 04, 2013
Also confused
by: Anonymous

I am interested what wray has to say I also used progesterone cream at 40mg a day for 6 years with great results all estrogen symptoms went completely but this last year I have used 250mg a day and always seem to have Ed symptoms but I keep this amount hoping I will feel good again

Apr 05, 2013
Years of natural progesterone use, but what I'm reading here (+ my symptoms) confuses me...
by: Wray

Hi SugarMags How lucky you were to have found a doctor 20 years ago who knew you needed progesterone. I could have done with one of those 31 years ago! I had 5 miscarriages before finally having my daughter. Very interesting your reaction to the higher strength cream, severe Oestrogen Dominance symptoms! It happens to many unfortunately which does put them off. Some have persevered through it and come out the other side. I've found the higher the oestrogen the worse the symptoms. You evidently had high oestrogen and low progesterone having a luteal phase defect, and still appear to have it. I find it fascinating you only needed a small amount to help the weird symptoms. As more often than not I've found the very low amounts worsen symptoms. To have helped the Anxiety and paranoia you would have needed at least 400mg/day if not more. But it is sometimes possible to manage these in other ways as you found, although I found I couldn't with mine. It was only the progesterone which 'saved' me! You were actually using the progesterone as it should be used, as and when needed. Some need it daily of course, others not. Progesterone won't keep any woman cycling, oestrogen does of course. As only oestrogen can build the lining of the uterus, it's the withdrawal of progesterone at the end of the cycle which causes it to shed. There's more info on our Menstruation page. So over the 6 months or so you didn't have a period, the amount of oestrogen you were producing was enough to build the lining up. Over time this is usually absorbed back into the body, although it some women it can continue building resulting in hyperplasia and a D&C to clear it out. Unnecessary of course as giving them progesterone would have cleaned it out safely as it has with you. I've found 400mg/day sometimes more is needed to stop bleeding. It does stop the cramps too, caused by prostaglandins and other inflammatory substances. In fact that's one of it's role in pregnancy, to keep the uterus 'quiet'. If gradually increasing helps you then continue like that. But I've generally found it just worsens things, and find it better to go very high immediately. Continued below

Apr 05, 2013
Years of natural progesterone use, but what I'm reading here (+ my symptoms) confuses me... part 2
by: Wray

Hi SugarMags Gaining inches doesn't surprise me either, another side effect of the 'progesterone stimulating oestrogen' aspect. Oestrogen causes water retention, whereas progesterone is an excellent diuretic. There's more info about this on our Traumatic Brain Injury page. We also have a page on Breast Tenderness too. I hope it resolves soon, pity it's not milk as the solution is so easy! And was the low amount helping just fine, as on and off you did have anxiety and paranoia? Which I know you did manage to sort out, shows you must have great strength of mind. If you find the bleeding doesn't stop there are a few nutrients you could consider, they might work without increasing progesterone, which I gather you're reluctant to do. You would need to take at least 2000mg/day NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), 2000mg/day taurine, at least 5000iu/day vitamin D (dependant on your level) and 1000mg/day bioflavonoids. There's more info about them on the menstruation link I gave above. Thanks for the kind words! Take care Wray

Apr 06, 2013
Also confused
by: Wray

Hi there I'm confused why you chose to increase the progesterone if the 40mg/day helped you. There are women who are able to do well on lower amounts than I suggest. The reason I recommend higher amounts is because the women who write in have bad symptoms. Or they're using low amounts and are not feeling well. Did new symptoms occur and that's why you increased? Take care Wray

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