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Natural Progesterone: Questions and Answers

John R. Lee, M.D. and Jerilyn C. Pryor, M.D.

John R. Lee, MD, has successfully treated female patients with natural progesterone cream for over 15 years. Dr. Lee has defined the signs of progesterone deficiency for women over 35 years of age to include swollen breasts, depression, low thyroid, fibrocystic breasts, water retention, weight gain, and loss of libido.

Jerilyn C. Pryor, MD, an endocrinology professor at the University of British Columbia, found through testing that 50 per cent of the women in North America are severely deficient in progesterone by age 35 and that, during the menopausal years, progesterone levels decrease to almost zero while estrogen levels only decrease by 40 to 60 per cent. Dr. Lee defines this syndrome as "estrogen dominance." When this hormonal imbalance occurs, the estrogen becomes toxic to the body. Treatment with natural progesterone restores the balance between these two main female hormones, eliminating the need for synthetic hormone therapy, and the undesirable side effects.

Natural Woman Essential Body Cream

The most effective method of restoring physiologic, equivalent to normal body function, progesterone levels is with the proper supplementation of transdermally applied natural progesterone. Products of Nature's Natural Woman Essential Body Cream is a technologically advanced light, greaseless, moisturizing formulation containing 960 mg. of natural progesterone in a hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic (won't clog pores) aloe vera base, free of colors and fragrance.

What is application of natural progesterone cream?

Natural progesterone (derived from the Mexican wild yam root) in a moisturizing cream can be applied to the face, hands, chest, abdomen, inner arms, inner thighs, and in cases of osteoporosis, to the entire trabecular spine. The cream is readily absorbed and leaves no trace after a few minutes. During absorption the cream bypasses the liver and goes to specific receptor sites where progesterone is needed. When the action is completed, residue is then excreted from the body. Absorption rate varies from person to person as does the relative need for progesterone.

Please Note: Everyone is different. Some women require more progesterone cream to help alleviate symptoms, while others can use less. For the first 3 months, use one 2 oz. jar per month. Then try cutting back on the amount of natural progesterone each month. If symptoms return, resume previous usage. It is important to stop using progesterone cream at least five days each month.

How do I know if I should use progesterone?

If you have PMS symptoms. PMS symptoms are those symptoms which occur consistently a week or 10 days before the period and stop with or shortly thereafter.

If you have Estrogen Dominance symptoms. These symptoms are water retention, breast swelling, fibrocystic breast, uterine fibroid, loss of libido, mood swings, depression, craving for sweets, and weight gain, fat deposited at hips and thighs.

If you have menopausal symptoms. Estrogen continues to be produced from the fat in cells even after menopause; however, progesterone production virtually ends. Hot flashes are the most prominent symptoms of menopause.

Osteoporosis. Women over 50 years of age should use natural progesterone cream to prevent osteoporosis.

When do I use natural progesterone cream?

If you are still menstruating, use one-quarter teaspoon of cream twice a day after ovulation (which is generally 12-14 days from the first day of menstrual flow. You do not need natural progesterone while menstruating; however, if you experience menstrual cramps try rubbing a small amount of cream on the lower abdomen. For migraines, rub cream on back of your neck.

If you have menopausal symptoms and are still menstruating, use one-quarter teaspoon cream twice per day beginning with the 8th day from day one of menstruation onset until the next menstruation cycle begins.

If you have menopausal symptoms and are not menstruating; have osteoporosis or for prevention of osteoporosis, use based on calendar month. Use one-quarter teaspoon twice per day beginning on the 6th day of each calendar month and continue for the remainder of the month.

What exactly is natural progesterone and how does it differ from synthetic progesterone?

Natural progesterone, a cholesterol derivative, comes from the Mexican yam. It matches exactly the chemical formulation of the body's own progesterone. Manufacturers alter the chemical makeup of progesterone in order to create progestins. Progestins in their altered molecular structure may cause many side effects, such as birth defects or abortion, fluid retention, epilepsy, migraine, asthma, cardiac or kidney dysfunction and depression.

Can natural progesterone help with endometriosis or fibrocystic breast?

There are many factors that affect both of these conditions, one common factor being a higher level of circulation estrogen, indicating a hormonal imbalance. Progesterone is the precursor hormone and it helps to normalize all other endocrine and hormonal activity in the body. In this case, assisting to lower the level of estrogen in the body and thus, possibly helping to clear these conditions.

Do natural hormones help vaginal dryness?

Vaginal dryness can occur in women of all ages for various reasons, but it is primarily present in post menopausal women. Natural hormones in a cream base can be used intravaginally and has been very successful in treating vaginal dryness and vulvar atrophy associated with aging.

Should estrogen be used without natural progesterone?

Definitely not. It is very important that natural progesterone be used with any form of estrogen. Estrogen without progesterone can cause endometrial and vaginal carcinomas. Estrogen blocks thyroid production and causes water retention; and it can cause fibrocystic breast disease and even fibroid tumors and cysts in the ovary area.

Do I need a prescription for natural hormones?

No. Natural hormones in a cream or oil base comes from Mexican yams which is technically a food product.

I am already taking hormones from my doctor, why should I switch to natural hormones?

Natural hormones are simply an alternative to hormone replacement therapy. Synthetic progesterone (known as progestins) has many side effects, and synthetic estrogen can be dangerous to your health, especially if taken without any progesterone. If someone is taking both synthetic estrogen and progestins, a gradual step is to substitute natural progesterone cream; and gradually reduce the synthetic estrogen. (Reduce estrogen by one-half and continue to reduce over 90 days until discontinued use).

I'm post menopausal, will I start menstruating again if I use natural hormones?

Occasionally, upon beginning use of natural hormone supplement, a post menopausal woman could experience some breakthrough bleeding, or a "period.' This is a perfectly normal response and is nothing to cause alarm. The progesterone is simply causing the body to rid itself of excess stored estrogen which can sometimes stimulate a uterine shedding - thus breakthrough bleeding. If this continues for longer than several months you should consult a physician.

I have facial hair, especially above my upper lip, that requires shaving occasionally. What causes this?

This is a condition called "hirsutism' (defined as excessive growth of facial and body hair). It indicates that there is a hormonal imbalance between estrogen, testosterone (the dominant male hormone) and progesterone. Progesterone acts as a regulator for the entire endocrine system. A woman who has the hirsute problem probably has PMS too. Both menopausal and menstruating women have reported that facial hair (and body hair) decreased or completely disappeared after three to six months of regular application of cream twice a day. Natural progesterone is needed to effect proper hormonal balance.

Is natural progesterone useful for hysterectomized, oophorectomized and menopausal women?

Yes. Many women experience hot flashes following premenopausal hysterectomy oophorectomy (complete removal of ovaries), and in the beginning of the natural onset of menopause. The cream which contains natural progesterone is effective for relieving symptoms of hot flashes. Most women have reported a complete cessation of flushing within 3 to 8 weeks.

Is natural progesterone indicated for osteoporosis?

Many medical authorities tell female patients who are post-menopausal that osteoporosis is inevitable. A physician in Mill Valley, California, John R. Lee, has proven that this often repeated statement is simply untrue. The results of his ongoing clinical study with 68 women is noteworthy. All have experienced new bone density ranging from 5 to 40 percent for women who have used natural progesterone cream from 6 to 48 months. His results also indicated this therapy is successful even several decades after menopause. One of his patients, who is 82 years of age and has been using natural progesterone cream for four years, has a greater than 40 percent new bone density as proven dualphoton absorptiometry. Dr. Lee has proven that osteoporosis is not only preventable, but is also reversible in most cases.

Can I use natural progesterone if there is family history of breast or uterine cancer?

Yes, it is recommended. Breast cancer and endometrial cancer are two cancers that are related in some way or other to gonadal hormones. They occur in tissues sensitive to these hormones. Unopposed estrogen is the only known cause of endometrial cancer though there may be other factors involved. Estrogen, or at least one or more of the various estrogens, are thought to contribute to breast cancer.

Are there any other benefits of natural progesterone use?

Additional benefits fro women include: improved brain function, diminished muscular aches and pains, improvement of skin problems including acne, seborrhea, rosacea, psoriasis and keratoses, and improved sleep pattern.

Recommended Reading
  • Lee, John R., M.D. with Virginia Hopkins. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause.
  • The Breakthrough Book on Natural Progesterone. New York: Warner Books, 1996.