Sadly the internet is full of misinformation provided by uninformed people about progesterone.  It is so very important to ensure that the information that you are researching on the internet is factual and not full of misinformation otherwise you will get terribly confused!  This not only applies to progesterone, but other topics too.  Hoaxes, scams and misguided information leaves room for great confusion.  Please be responsible when doing your research.

Some ridiculous misconceptions are

  • progesterone makes them feel worse
  • weight gain
  • water retention
  • hair loss
  • candida feeds off progesterone
  • rotate the areas where you rub it in
  • progesterone builds up in fatty tissue
  • don't use it on thick skinned areas
  • using at ovulation will prevent it
  • too much progesterone will ‘make’ estrogen - really?
  • only progesterone oil should be used
  • should not be used until all forms of  phytoestrogens or estrogen mimics have been removed from our food, skin care, makeup etc - well that is never going to happen is it?  Why?  Because of our Environment!
  • reduce or stop amount used if adverse symptoms are felt 

The list goes on and on which obviously gives progesterone a bad name.

The function of two hormones helps one realise that progesterone is not the culprit and does not deserve to be regarded as such.  Estrogen is the culprit, yes it is a vital hormone, but it is an extremely potent hormone, a little goes a long way.

For example: in serum tests estrogen is measured in pg/ml or pmol/L, and progesterone is measured in ng/ml or nmol/L.  A pg or pmol is a 1000 times smaller than a ng or nmol.

Without estrogen, women would not have the female shape they have, men also get this shape if they have excess estrogen circulating.  Estrogen stimulates subcutaneous fat cells to proliferate, resulting in the change in shape at puberty.  Too much estrogen causes weight gain which is extremely difficult to lose unless the excess estrogen is suppressed.  It is a mitogen causing fat cells to proliferate.

Estrogen causes water retention resulting in immediate weight gain if it is suddenly stimulated.  When a low amount of progesterone is used, this will invariably cause it.  Both hormones start to stimulate each other, as I like to say, a war between the two hormones takes place.  This will also happen to men, in fact, through testosterone into this and all three hormones interplay causing stimulation which leads to Estrogen Dominance.

Progesterone is now blamed for these estrogen dominance symptoms and many will stop or reduce its use.  Stopping will help as it is no longer stimulating estrogen.  This now defeats the purpose which is to suppress excess estrogen and make progesterone the dominant hormone.  It is so very important to increase the amount of progesterone used if estrogen dominance occurs, NOT reduce it.

As mentioned previously, estrogen is a mitogen causing cells to proliferate, especially in the breasts and endometrial cells.  Hence the development of the breasts during puberty, but in excess it increases the risk of gigantomastia in women, gynaecomastia in men and breast cancer in both.  Estrogen is an excitatory, inflammatory hormone, progesterone reverses mitosis making it beneficial in Endometriosis, Fibroids, Cancer, endometrial hyperplasia, heavy bleeding and more.

Phytoestrogens found in food have an estrogenic effect on cells, and are rather difficult to avoid eating them.  It is best to try and avoid all grains and legumes as much as possible which have the highest amount.

There are well over 100 estrogen mimics in our environment today.  They are everywhere, in our food, water, air and skin care products particularly sunscreens.  It is extremely difficult to avoid them each day.  We can help though, by eating organic food and using organic products.  Progesterone protects from their influence.

Progesterone is a calming hormone as well as a potent anti-inflammatory and excellent diuretic.  Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) are given in excess of 1200mg per day via IV transfusion.  See this touching video.

Then there is another misconception and that is to only rub progesterone on thin skinned areas rotating the application.  Really?  This is actually impossible if high levels of progesterone is needed.  Progesterone is absorbed very well anywhere on the body.  The skin comprises 95% keratinocytes, these have ample progesterone receptors, even hair follicles and sebaceous glands absorb progesterone well.  NOTE:  The thicker the cream, the longer it will take to absorb into the skin.

Many websites state that the receptors become insensitive, therefore a break is essential.  Nonsense, this now gives estrogen a chance to become the dominant hormone again. The build-up of progesterone in fatty tissue would imply that the receptors would become insensitive.   Only take a break if trying to conceive and if one has a healthy regular cycle, most do not. There do not appear to be any studies showing it builds up in fatty tissue, but there is a paper stating that it doesn't.

The paper says

“Despite the low serum progesterone levels achieved with the creams, salivary progesterone levels are very high, indicating that progesterone levels in serum do not necessarily reflect those in tissues”.

If the fatty tissues were indeed saturated, and little progesterone was entering the circulation, the study would have found the reverse,  i.e.  low saliva levels.

Saliva Tests show that it is evident that progesterone is circulating.  A before and after test is done for comparison, levels rise dramatically, but more to the point, the women are feeling well and benefiting.

It appears that during the proliferative phase  i.e.  follicular phase, progesterone is concentrated in fatty tissue.  This is understandable when one realises that progesterone is not produced during the follicular phase, so it is hidden in fatty tissue.  Levels are very low as it plays no part in the follicular phase.  It is produced after ovulation in the secretory or luteal phase, where it is found mainly in the skin, uterus and ovaries.

Something that seems to be overlooked by all, is that progesterone is broken down into metabolites.  It does not remain as progesterone locked up in fatty tissue.  One in particular is allogregnanolone (3-hydroxy-5-pregnan-20-one or 3.5-tetrahydroprogesterone or THP).  It is a potent analgesic, anxiolytic and anti-inflammatory.

Progesterone is broken down into many metabolites.  5-dihydroprogesterone (the precursor to allopregnanolone), 17alpha-hydroprogesterone and 20-hydroxy-5-pregnan-3-one.  Three mono-hydroxylated products, 6-, 16- and 21- hydroxyprogesterone, and a dihydroxy product, 4-pregnen-6, 21 –diol-3, 20-dione, plus more.

As the body is designed to metabolise progesterone and other hormones, it seems highly unlikely for it to get shunted into fat cells.  Or for the receptors to become insensitive.

One paper says:

“The ephemeral nature of the corpus luteum makes it even more remarkable that this tissue is able to synthesise upwards of 40mg of progesterone in the human on a daily basis”.

It has also been found that progesterone is capable of stimulating its own synthesis.  The typical negative feedback system seen in other endocrine tissues does not operate in the corpus luteum, and at the end of the luteal phase, in spite of LH secretion, the corpus luteum regresses and progesterone secretion declines.

As we know, there is a 50 hour progesterone surge before ovulation.  This surge comes from the brain and is thought to initiate the LH surge which in turn initiates ovulation.  So using progesterone at ovulation will most certainly not inhibit it.  It will in fact, enhance the early rise in progesterone so vital for successful implantation.  Using it 50 hours of the pre-ovulatory surge will actually enhance ovulation.

Although progesterone is the precursor to both testosterone and estrogen, using high amounts will not make more.  It actually suppresses any excess estrogen and testosterone.  The opposite is also true.

The typically incorrect 20-40mg per day that is recommended by so many does not raise levels to that found in the luteal phase.  One study actually found that using 40mg per day where “only low plasma progesterone levels were found (median 2.5nmol/L”.

The Hormone Testing will give you further information on this.

Many women have a defective luteal phase, where little to no progesterone is secreted.  These are the women who more than likely experience problems.  Many secrete excess estrogen or testosterone, or both.  In this case low levels of progesterone will not help at all.

Peri-Menopause is a difficult time for most women, it is a time when progesterone levels drop due to anovulation.  This usually takes place around 35 years of age, it increases in frequency through peri-menopause until the onset of Menopause when the ovaries stop producing viable eggs.  The use of progesterone during peri-menopause prepares one for the transit into menopause making is so much easier.  However, during peri-menopause ovarian production of estrogen and testosterone do not stop.  After menopause the ovaries become androgen secreting organs.  The adrenals produce some as well as the kidneys.   Adipose cells secrete estrone, the two principle metabolites are 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OHE1) and 16-alpha hydroxyestrone (1 6alpha-OHE1).

1 6alpha-OHE1 is regarded as a potent estrogen, whereas 2-OHE1 is a weak estrogen.  1 6alpha-OHE1 is implicated in the increase in breast cancer in menopausal women.  If the secretion of these 2 hormones is excessive, or anovulation or defective luteal phase is experienced, or with dropping or very low progesterone levels in peri-menopause and menopause, adverse symptoms will occur.

It is for this reason that between 100-200mg per day of the correct progesterone concentration should be used, more maybe needed depending on symptoms.  If adverse symptoms occur during use, please DO NOT reduce the amount used as so many do, believing that progesterone is to blame. Using too little merely stimulates estrogen and the only way to overcome these adverse symptoms is to increase the amount of progesterone used. 

It is important to use the correct Delivery Method when it comes to progesterone.  The most effective are injections, suppositories or creams.  A comparison of topical oils, topical gels and creams found a higher plasma peak in an emulsion type cream. 

How to use Progesterone Cream will explained exactly how to use and what to expect.

A reminder to read the Estrogen Dominance page when first starting with progesterone therapy, it is important that you understand what is happening and why.

References to website explaining Progesterone Misconceptions

Reference for Progesterone Misconceptions

Cytochrome P450 3A9 catalyzes the metabolism of progesterone and other steroid hormones

Hormonal Dynamics at Midcycle: A Reevaluation

Neurosteroids and self-reported pain in veterans who served in the U.S. Military after September 11, 2001

Subfertility linked to combined luteal insufficiency and uterine progesterone resistance

Human corpus luteum physiology and the luteal-phase dysfunction associated with ovarian stimulation

Progesterone and Progestin Receptors in the Brain: The Neglected Ones

Synthesis and Function of Hypothalamic Neuroprogesterone in Reproduction

The progesterone metabolite allopregnanolone potentiates GABA(A) receptor-mediated inhibition of 5-HT neuronal activity

Aging, estrogen, and progesterone

Allopregnanolone, a progesterone metabolite, is more effective than progesterone in reducing cortical infarct volume after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion

Blocking Tissue Destruction

Decreased Cerebrospinal Fluid Allopregnanolone Levels in Women with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Tissue-bound estrogen in aging

A study to look at hormonal absorption of progesterone cream used in conjunction with transdermal estrogen

Cholesterol transport and steroidogenesis by the corpus luteum

Agonistic and antagonistic properties of progesterone metabolites at the human mineralocorticoid receptor


The defective luteal phase

Adipose tissue as a source of hormones

Antiestrogen action of progesterone in breast tissue