If you've been following us here at Smoky Mountain Nutrition for a while, you've heard us bemoan the fact that progesterone doesn't get the attention it deserves when it comes to hormone balance.
But if we're being completely honest, we get it. People just don't really know all that progesterone does for our bodies.
Everyone knows that estrogen, by contrast, is responsible for soft skin, full hair, feminine body composition, and a whole bunch of other characteristics that women desire.
It makes sense that without the tangible reasons to focus on progesterone, it just wouldn't get the same kind of attention. That's why we're laying out some of the important benefits of progesterone that you have probably never heard of.
1. Progesterone Keeps Weight In Check
Hormone balance is crucial when it comes to weight management. Diet and exercise may be the cornerstone of managing body weight, but hormonal imbalance has the potential to make that effort more difficult or outright impossible.
Progesterone is a big part of that equation. One of the ways that progesterone helps keep of the pounds is by encouraging thyroid activity which increases body temperature and metabolism.
Another way that progesterone contributes to a healthy waistline is by reducing inflammation. When inflammation is reduced in the brain, it's better able to process leptin, a chemical that regulates appetite. How much easier is it to control calorie intake when your appetite is under control?
2. It's A Natural Sleep Aid
There are many reasons for a loss of sleep during menopause (Think night sweats). But one surprising source of sleep disruption is actually a decrease in progesterone levels.
Progesterone is a natural sleep aid with a calming effect in the body. When levels drop, we tend to find ourselves in a more engaged state. That's just fine when we're in an important meeting, but it can become a real problem at night. If sleep has become more difficult for you, it's worth your time to check progesterone levels.
3. Helps Control Blood Sugar
Your body balances a lot of complicated interactions in order to keep blood sugar levels where they need to be, and there are several hormones that directly impact blood sugar management.
The most notable blood sugar hormone is insulin (which brings levels down), but progesterone actually plays an important role as well.
Blood sugar problems can arise if progesterone levels are too high, or if they are too low. In fact, highly elevated progesterone levels are one of the reasons why some women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
4. Relieves Depression And Anxiety
Low progesterone levels reduce our levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is crucial for mood elevation. Serotonin is so important to our mood, in fact, that it has earned the moniker "The Happy Chemical".
And you don't have to wait until the years of menopause to see the effects of progesterone on our moods. PMS actually corresponds with the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, in which progesterone levels decline sharply.
Progesterone also reduces anxiety through its negating effect on cortisol, and promotion of GABA in the body, as well as it's natural calming effect.
5. Increases Libido
Progesterone fluctuates during the menstrual cycle, rising to prepare the uterus for a potential pregnancy, and dropping sharply to shed the uterine lining and restart the cycle.
So when you think about it, it shouldn't be any surprise that progesterone also acts as a libido enhancer. Our bodies use the same hormone to both prepare for pregnancy, and to initiate sexual activity. That way, our ability to conceive, and our desire for sex work together to increase the likelihood of conception.
That's a pretty sneak trick that nature pulls, but being aware of the role progesterone plays in healthy sexual desire also has huge benefits for women who have experienced a drop in that desire.
Hopefully this list of benefits helps to give progesterone a more prominent place in your thinking about hormone health. It truly is a pivotal component of any hormone health picture.
If you think that progesterone supplementation might be right for you, we recommend our bio-identical progesterone supplement cream: Progesto-Life.
And if you're curious about whether you have a deficiency in the first place, we recommend talking with your doctor, or using our Menopause Hormone Test Kit for an easy mail-in saliva test that can give you the answers you need.