What is Bioidentical Progesterone
Bioidentical progesterone like estrogen is synthetically made in a lab. It is manufactured to be exactly the same molecular structure that the human body produces. The precursor molecule is extracted from a natural source, either soy or yam. The human body does not have the enzymes necessary to convert this natural product so it has to be converted in a lab. This is not to be confused with the pharmaceutically produced progesterone analogue “medroxyprogesterone” which for many years was used as a substitute for progesterone. There is a greater difference in the molecular structure between progesterone and medroxyprogesterone than there is between estrogen and testosterone.
In the human body progesterone is produced by enzymatic conversion of pregnenolone which in turn is converted from cholesterol. The production of all the sex hormones can be affected if cholesterol levels are too low.
Levels of the sex hormones as indicated by testing with blood, saliva or urine are not definitive. They have their limitations. Each test can indicate a different level and should only be looked at as a tool to help form a suitable treatment. It should never be treated as the sole indicator but needs to be looked at relative to the symptomatology of the patient bearing in mind the limitations of the test.
Functions of Progesterone
Progesterone has a wide variety of functions. Progesterone is a precursor of other sex hormones e.g. estrogen and testosterone. It protects the body from the undesirable side effects of estrogen dominance, whether occurring endogenously before menopause or a consequence of estrogen supplementation.
Progesterone protects against fibrocystic breasts, maintains the lining of the uterus, is a natural diuretic, promotes fat burning for energy, acts as a natural antidepressant, aids thyroid hormone function, normalizes blood clotting, may help to maintain sex drive, helps normalize blood sugar levels, normalizes zinc and copper levels, restores proper cell oxygen levels, protects against endometrial cancer, helps protect against breast cancer, helps protect against ovarian cancer, helps build bone, promotes the survival of the embryo and fetus, promotes bone building and protects against osteoporosis, and is a precursor of cortisone synthesis.
Testing for Progesterone
Progesterone can be tested in the blood, saliva or urine. If one is not supplementing with progesterone the results should be similar. If one is supplementing with transdermal or transvaginal progesterone, blood tests will underestimate the levels compared to salivary results. Urine testing can be used to determine the amount of progesterone metabolized over a given period of time. A 24 hour urine test is a better indicator of the total amount of progesterone produced over a 24 hour period, whereas blood and saliva tests are more indicative of the levels at that point in time.