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What is Progesterone?

  • Oldest known sex hormone.
  • Present in every human regardless of age.
  • The ovaries and adrenal glands produce it.
  • They are secreted by corpus luteum.
  • It has receptors in nearly every cell in the body.
  • Acts on uterus, kidneys, brain, smooth muscle, breasts, bones, and cellular membranes.
  • It is metabolized to other active hormones.

What are some of the functions and roles of progesterone in the body?

  • Counteracts estrogen’s tendency to induce excess growth in the endometrial lining of the uterus.
  • Builds new bone tissue, leading to increased bone mass and density.
  • Necessary for maintenance of pregnancy.
  • Decreases uterine contractions.
  • Prepares and maintains uterine lining for implantation of a fertilized egg
  • Progesterone helps in preparing breasts for lactation.
  • Assists in raising HDL-cholesterol levels (if combined with estrogen therapy) and ultimately reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • Synthetic progesterone (progestin) has an overall negative effect on HDL-cholesterol levels, causing vasoconstriction.

What is the difference between “progestin” and “progesterone?”

The main difference is in the derivative. Progestins are synthetic (i.e., human-made) molecules developed to act like natural progesterone. Natural progesterone is a molecule that is plant-derived and is bio-identical to the hormone produced in our bodies. Progestins do not have as broad a spectrum of activity as natural progesterone and have a wide range of side effects. 

Whereas progesterone may cause some mild to moderate drowsiness, progestin’s can cause:

  • breast tenderness
  • acne
  • depression
  • vision changes
  • bloating
  • migraine headaches
  • thrombosis
  • decreased glucose tolerance
  • gastric regurgitation