Listener’s Question: Hello, recently my Nurse Practitioner recommended that I should start taking progesterone because she mentioned that I was estrogen dominant. I don’t have any real symptoms, so just want to make sure if I even need to take the progesterone. Thanks.
Short Answer: If you don’t have any direct symptoms, then progesterone would not be necessary. We prescribe progesterone to women of all ages, but usually, they have a symptom profile that justifies the prescription. It is not likely for a woman to be truly estrogen dominant without any noticeable symptoms (fibroids, endometriosis, heavy bleeding, etc).
If a cycling woman does her blood work around day 12 of her cycle. The estradiol will be higher, and the progesterone level will typically be less than one (<1.0). It could appear to be too much estrogen compared to progesterone, but this is normal. A woman’s body does not produce any progesterone until ovulation, which typically occurs about day 14 of the cycle. This is why it is important to know what day of the cycle the lab work was done in order to interpret the estradiol and progesterone levels.
Once a woman enters the 40s, her body begins to change; however, we don’t prescribe progesterone simply based on a blood test. The patient’s symptom profile is a better indicator of whether or not to prescribe progesterone. Some of the common symptoms we look for are heavy periods, irritability, anxiousness, and poor sleep quality.
Generally, for a woman dealing with classic perimenopausal symptoms, we will prescribe 100 mg of bioidentical, sustained-release progesterone capsule taken at night 60 minutes before bed. This is a good starting point but may need to be adjusted based on the woman’s response. We do get a lot of questions asking about progesterone cream, but in our experience, it does not seem to be as effective at resolving perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms as oral progesterone.
For more information about progesterone, below are links to previous episodes.
If you have more questions about progesterone or other female hormone issues, feel free to contact us. We are here to help.