I often use myself as a guinea pig to test theories, whether wellness related, beauty related, or other. Lately I've been doing tons of research on hormones and how they affect everything from our weight and fitness levels, body fat storage, muscle building, and even healthy aging in our skin. To put this information to the test, I decided to try progesterone therapy. In case you aren't aware of this, it is a theory based on our bodies being exposed to too much estrogen in our environment via birth control, food, plastics, chemicals etc, thus making us estrogen dominant. Although men are affected from this as well, women are more susceptible to the symptoms because we already produce more estrogen then men.
Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance can be described as:
Weight gain in the hips, thighs, buttocks, and abdomen
excessive facial hair
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
irregular menstrual cycles
Inability to sleep/ waking up/ anxiety/ depression
These are just some of the symptoms. This disorder, though not regularly recognized by the medical community, can be associated with several autoimmune disorders such as fibromyalgia, MS, lupus, and other reproductive issues such as fibroids and even cancer. More research is needed to make a direct causation, therefore this remains a theory.
Now, I'm not a doctor, and I would never tell anyone to start a therapy without consulting one, but if you have any concerns like I did with the aforementioned symptoms, I definitely think its worth getting your hormones checked and discussing it with your physician.
Here's my story:
A little over 3 years ago I made the decision to go back on birth control after having a ruptured ovarian cyst and my cycles became abnormal. Having some knowledge about estrogen, and knowing I was estrogen dominant, I chose a progestin only form. What my doctor didn't tell me, is that progestin is synthetic and not recognized by the body as progesterone. Because of this, it actually turns off the body's own progesterone. So I went from not making enough, to now not making any. After 2 years of feeling more and more moody, bloated, gaining weight, exhausted, and depressed, not to mention stomach issues, I decided to go off and see if it was the birth control causing it. The first month I started losing weight like crazy and I was like "YES!!!!" and started back at the gym weight training, feeling happy again. Then I felt like I got hit by a truck. I was exhausted, couldn't move out of bed some days. I became near suicidal as my weight inclined no matter how hard i lifted, or how many miles I ran. Until a couple months ago I had gained 25 pounds, 15 of which was AFTER stopping birth control. I was determined to find answers.
The funny thing is, since I had taken the synthetic progestin for so long, I wasn't producing progesterone on my own. When that happens, estrogen takes over and produces more estrogen, increasing fat storage, and also cortisol takes over, eventually causing "adrenal fatigue." There is debate if adrenal fatigue is real or psuedoscience, but what is real is that when your cortisol goes up, it has to steal progesterone and convert it, and what happens when we aren't making enough progesterone? Exhaustion. Hitting the wall.
So here I had hit the wall. Upon my research, I found bio-identical progesterone cream. It's available over the counter in whole foods, health food stores, vitamin shoppe, etc. I figured I had nothing left to lose. I'd tried everything diet wise, exercise wise, sleep wise. Nothing else had had an effect.
It took some trial and error to find a brand that was affordable and that worked for me. I tried Emerita, which I felt work right away, but it is $35 for 2 ounces, and I needed to use a high loading dose to jumpstart my system. I also tried Lifeway with DHEA and Pregnenolone. More moderately priced, and I definitely felt A LOT of energy. Almost hyper, so I couldn't use it at bed time. The one I've decided to continue using is NOW brand. It has some other herbs like don quai which balances excess estrogen and smells like lemongrass.
The recommended dose was between 100 and 200 mg of progesterone, which is 5-10 pumps of cream. I decided to start with 100 mg and work up if I didn't see any effects. I do 1 pump when I first wake up, 3 pumps after going to the gym in the afternoon, and 1 pump before bed. The reason I do 3 pumps after the gym is because exercise boosts cortisol, so I want to make sure I have enough in my system post work out to replenish any progesterone that may have been stolen to make cortisol and prevent fatigue.
Results? YES. Head to toe 180. My depression has nearly dissipated. I'm often described as "happy go lucky" again. I've lost 12 pounds over the last 2 months. The added bonus? The lines that had been accumulating in my forehead the last 6 months have completely diminished. So has the melasma patch I developed on birth control. My annoying post pregnancy chin hair hasn't grown back since I last tweezed it 6 weeks ago, nor have the little lips hairs that started last summer come back. My over all skin tone has a rosy glow. I have an appetite, sometimes ravenous. No more puffiness, joint pain, and a lot less bloating. Its definitely not a cure all, I'm still tired some days and go through some female cycle changes, but its much more diminished. This therapy has been a life saver.
According to research, results take place the greatest after 6 months of continual use. I'm just completing my second month, so I'm looking forward to updating my results as I continue.
I hope you found this information helpful. Please feel free to leave comments below. Namaste.