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Is Natural Progesterone Safe?

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Thursday, May 03, 2007 | 0 comments

QUESTION: My dr says that women who are given progesterone during pregnancy have children who when they are in the 20's have been diagnosed with cancers of the reproductive organs?

ANSWER: What I have read is that it is the synthetic progesterone that may cause problems, but the bio-identical progesterone is safe. Provera is a synthetic progesterone.

Warnings about SYNTHETIC progesterone:

(Possible side affects of medroxyprogesterone acetate, including Provera):

* Increased warnings of birth defects such as heart and limb defects if taken during the first four months of pregnancy
* Beagle dogs given this drug developed malignant mammary nodules.
* Discontinue this drug if there is sudden or partial loss of vision.
* This drug passes into breast milk, consequences unknown.
* May contribute to thrombophlebitis, pulmonary embolism, and cerebral thrombosis.

But bio-identical progestone is considered safe:


Natural progesterone is not progestin, although many physicians believe they are the same thing. The difference between the two is two-fold:

1. Natural progesterone starts with a plant extract and, through fermentation and other steps, is converted to a substance that has the same molecular structure as the progesterone produced by the human body.

A progestin can start with the same plant extract, but is converted to a molecular structure that is not of the same molecular structure produced by the body.

2. According to Dr. Lee, when natural progesterone is used in servings of up to 40 mg per day, there have been no reported side effects, other than occasional menstrual spotting.

As noted above, there are many side effects of progestins.

Dr. John Lee has used natural progesterone for 15 years in his clinical practice and currently travels worldwide speaking on natural progesterone. Dr. Lee has published two books on natural progesterone -What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause and Natural Progesterone: The Multiple Roles of a Remarkable Hormone - and a number of articles on natural progesterone in peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Lee notes, "In the fifteen years since (I have started using natural progesterone in my practice), I have seen the consistent benefits and the safety of natural progesterone therapy." (2)

Dr. Lee also comments on a study done by Hargrove et al. "When Hargrove et al., compared oral progesterone with medroxyprogesterone acetate (Provera) in combined hormonal therapy with estrogen for menopausal women, they found superior symptomatic improvement, an improved lipid profile, amenorrhea without endometrial proliferation or hyperplasia, and no side effects in the group given progesterone." (2)

The Hargrove study Dr. Lee quotes also states that of the ten women given estrodiol/progesterone (natural progesterone) none experienced side effects and wished to continue the therapy, while two of the ten women using conjugated estrogen and medroxyprogesterone acetate requested discontinuation due to side effects. The study itself notes that, "Most significantly, the adverse effects of synthetic progestins on lipoproteins and cholesterol were eliminated by using natural progesterone." (3)

Dr. Lee concludes his technical book, Natural Progesterone: The Multiple Roles of a Remarkable Hormone, by saying, "because of its many benefits, its great safety, and particularly its ability to oppose the carcinogenic effects of estrogens, natural progesterone deserves far more attention and application than generally given in the prevention and care of Womens Health today. "(2)

Studies support Dr. Lee's assertions on the efficacy and safety of natural progesterone - An article in the May, 1996 issue of Pharmacotherapy concerns the administration of a micronized form of natural progesterone. The authors of the study comment that "Most of the problems that accompany progestins could be avoided or profoundly reduced if natural progesterone could be administered …." They go on to say, "This oral product has been effective and safe in women with absent ovaries, premenstrual syndrome, and premature labor, and for postmenopausal hormone-replacement therapy." (4)

An article in the March, 1985 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology discussed how progestogens (progestins) and natural progesterone affect high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in estrogen replacement therapy. It notes that "natural progesterone had no apparent influence on high-density lipoprotein cholesterol or its subtractions and may develop into an attractive alternative to synthetic progestogens." (5)

Medical evidence shows that the benefits of using natural progesterone include:
1. Prevents Endometrial cancer
2. Helps prevent breast cancer
3. Protects against fibrocystic breasts
4. Stimulates osteoblast bone building. (Osteoporosis Reversal)
5. Helps use fat for energy
6. Natural Diuretic
7. Natural antidepressant
8. Restores sex drive
9. Normalizes zinc and copper levels.
10. Facilitates thyroid hormone action
11. Normalizes blood sugar levels
12. Normalizes blood clotting
13. Restores proper oxygen cell levels
14. Precursor of corticosteroids (Arthritis)
15. The concentration of Progesterone in brain cells is 20 times higher than in the blood serum levels. Dr John Lee in his book addresses the significance of progesterone and it’s connection to
a) restoration of the thinking powers of the elderly
b) elimination of depression after childbirth
c) reduction of the severity of brain injury
d) fetal brain development
e) improved sleep patterns
16. Babies whose mothers received natural progesterone show improved intelligence (reported by Dr Katherina Dalton). Other investigators report that progesterone babies have strong, serene independent characters.
(Ref - Progesterone in Orthmolecular Medicine – Dr Ray Peat)
17. Research relating to the significance of progesterone levels and
a) it’s remarkable effect on enlarged prostates and prostate cancer in men. Books and research papers on this subject are about to be published.
b) serious surgery. Researchers have reported on and documented the dramatically improved prognosis for patients undergoing serious surgery.

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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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