There are many reasons why I’m seeing more progesterone deficiencies in my naturopathic medical practice than every before. Here are just a few:
We are exposed to more xenoestrogens (chemicals that mimic estrogen) in our environment and foods than ever before. Found in plastics, synthetic hormones and animal products, xenoestrogens cause the body to perceive higher estrogen levels in the system and the relative progesterone levels pale in comparison.
You. Are. Stressed.
Many of us feel stressed out and tired and our progesterone levels suffer as a result. Chemically speaking, when cortisol (our stress hormone) spikes, it blocks progesterone receptors and limits the activity of progesterone.
Exercise: Find the Balance
Often I’m seeing women and men who are working out extremely hard, competing at high levels (even recreationally) and this results in hormonal systems that are out of whack. For optimal hormone function and progesterone balance, moderate exercise is key. About four to fives times weekly at 30- to 60-minute intervals is great.
So how do you know if your progesterone is low?
Read on to see if you recognize any of these symptoms. While this list isn’t exhaustive, it’s certainly a starting point for a discussion between you and your primary care physician, ND or MD, about whether or not your progesterone levels are low and should be tested.
HERE ARE THE TOP 7 SYMPTOMS OF PROGESTERONE DEFICIENCY:
- Menstrual irregularities – long cycles, irregular cycles, short luteal phase (if the time from ovulation to your period is less than 10 days), a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome, menstrual cramping, spotting mid cycle or before your full period flow begins.
- Infertility – progesterone is one of the primary hormones involved in achieving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy. If you’re having difficulty conceiving or have suffered from a miscarriage, it’s worth having your progesterone levels checked as they may be low.
- Acne, brittle nails, dry cracked skin – If you are suffering from adult onset acne, your nails are cracking, splitting, peeling or the skin of your heels and hands are cracking, you might be low in progesterone.
- Depression, anxiety, mood swings – with age, many women attribute a shift in estrogen for their mood symptoms. Actually, after age 30 most of us experience a drop in progesterone and, since it’s partly responsible for stabilizing mood, one of the first signs of this lowered level is a shift in mood.
- Low libido, fatigue, foggy thinking – frequently, women come in to our clinic complaining of these symptoms post-partum. However, many women in their 30s and 40s, regardless of their child-bearing status, start to experience an energy, sex drive, and mental shift with a drop in progesterone.
- Slow metabolism, weight gain around the midsection, sugar cravings – with the rise in diabetes across North America, most people blame sugar and insulin for their metabolic dysfunctions. But as we age and progesterone drops, it sure can slow down our ability to burn fat.
- Migraines, headaches, also joint pain and allergy symptoms – pain and allergy syndromes seem least likely to be caused by hormones—but time and time again I see hormones at the root of these frustrating conditions. I recommend considering food allergies, overall inflammation, and checking in on your female hormone balance if you suffer from any of these conditions.
If you think you may be suffering from low progesterone levels, please see your ND and have your symptoms reviewed and progesterone levels checked. There is so much relief that can come from seeing your naturopathic physician for proper diagnosis and treatment of hormone imbalances.
Dr. Julie Durnan is a naturopathic physician, women’s health expert, speaker, author and mother. She specializes in pediatric and women’s natural medicine. For more information or to schedule a consult, please visit www.drjuliedurnan.com.