Progesterone gets a lot of publicity.
Along with its sister hormone, estrogen, the pair plays a key role in all things reproduction.
But what are these supplements all about?
Do they work?
And is there a way to boost your progesterone naturally instead?
The reality is there are a lot of conflicting opinions out there!
And delving into the topic can feel like navigating a minefield.
If you would like to boost your progesterone levels, we recommend chatting with your doctor first.
They’ll be able to advise you on what’s best for you.
Until then, let’s explore some of the ins and outs.
In this article: 📝
- Why would you want to boost your progesterone?
- What does a progesterone supplement do?
- What supplements are good for progesterone?
- Are there natural supplements for progesterone?
- The controversies about taking progesterone supplements
- Progesterone supplements: the bottom line
Why would you want to boost your progesterone?
Progesterone is one of the most important sex hormones.
Both men and women have it, but it plays a bigger role for women, as it affects puberty, your menstrual cycle, and your ability to get pregnant.
During menopause, progesterone levels drop.
If you’re still having your period, and especially if you’re TTC, some of the following symptoms might be a sign that your progesterone levels are low:
- Missed, late or irregular periods
- Period cycles that are less than 24 days long
- Low libido
- Spotting or cramping during pregnancy
- Pregnancy loss
- Early labor
- Ectopic pregnancies, where a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus
- Infertility or trouble conceiving
- Anxiety or depression
Chat with your doctor to find out what they suggest.
What does a progesterone supplement do?
As you might suspect, progesterone supplements are intended to boost your natural levels of progesterone.
This might help address some of the symptoms we’ve discussed.
But it’s not a guarantee, and whether they work will depend on the underlying cause of your trouble.
It’s also important to note that there are different kinds of progesterone supplements and not all of them are created equal.
So it’s a good idea to know which one is right for you before you start taking one.
What supplements are good for progesterone?
Prescription progesterone has a number of benefits, including supporting you in your TTC journey and reducing the symptoms of menopause.
If you are taking estrogen for your menopause symptoms, supplementing your progesterone levels can help stave off the risks of endometrial cancer.
Without it, estrogen can cause a build-up of the tissue in the lining of your uterus, which can become dangerous.
Progesterone helps to thin out that tissue.
But there are also some side effects to be aware of.
If you’re in the market for progesterone supplements, you’ll quickly learn that you can find both synthetic and natural options.
We’ll take you through the details of each type.
Prescription synthetic supplements come in capsules, gels, or suppositories.
You can also inject them.
There are also other non-prescription synthetic progesterone drugs available, but these haven’t been approved by the FDA.
This means that they are not regulated and might contain more or less of the hormone than they say on the label.
Synthetic progesterone is called progestin.
Progestins are slightly different from progesterone in terms of how they act on your body, and this may cause certain contraindications.
(More on this below.)
Many natural progesterone products are made from wild yam because it contains a chemical called diosgenin, which can be converted into progesterone in a lab.
Natural supplements claim that our bodies can turn this chemical into progesterone, thereby increasing our levels of the hormone.
So is this true?
Erm, no, not exactly.
It’s worth being a little wary of these claims.
Unfortunately, our bodies can’t convert diosgenin into progesterone.
What’s more, these products aren’t approved by the FDA because there’s no real proof that they can increase progesterone levels.
Taking wild yam products isn’t likely to increase your progesterone levels, but there is evidence that chasteberry can.
And there’s preliminary evidence to suggest it may help with infertility.
Are there natural supplements for progesterone?
While the jury’s still out on whether yams can boost progesterone, many people find that upping their levels of the foods below can help.
Either way, increasing your daily dose of leafy greens is never a waste. 🥬
Try regularly munching on the following:
- Brussels sprouts
- Whole grains
The controversies about taking progesterone supplements
So, why are progesterone supplements so tricky to understand?
First, as we’ve discussed, there just isn’t enough research to back up the claims made by many of the products on the market.
Second, the side effects and benefits appear to be different based on the type of progesterone you take.
For example, progesterone supplements are associated with lowering breast cancer risk for women who are taking estrogen for menopause symptoms.
But researchers believe that the risk isn’t as low with synthetic progestins.
So it really matters what kind of progesterone supplement you take.
Third, its benefits are still under review, and we just don’t know enough about how effective progesterone supplementation actually is.
Taking progesterone supplements to prevent pregnancy loss, for example, likely won’t work.
A 2016 study found that taking progesterone therapy in the first trimester didn’t result in a higher rate of live births among women who had experienced pregnancy loss before.
But unfortunately they don’t work in every case.
So there’s a lot we still need to discover about this kind of hormonal therapy.
Progesterone supplements: the bottom line
Manipulating your hormones through any kind of synthetic or natural supplements is not something to be taken lightly.
So the best way to do this?
Yep, chat with your doctor.
They’ll be able to advise you and recommend the best course of action.
And if you need support through this journey, check in with your Peanut community.
We’re there for you.