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Why you need progesterone despite a hysterectomy...

In the intricate dance of hormones within the human body, progesterone often takes a backstage role compared to its more renowned counterpart, estrogen. However, the importance of progesterone cannot be overstated, particularly when considering its profound impact on various aspects of health, including bone density, cognitive function, cardiovascular health, and breast well-being. In this article, we delve into the multifaceted benefits of progesterone and shed light on its pivotal role in maintaining overall health and vitality.

Progesterone is a steroid hormone involved in the female menstrual cycle, pregnancy (supports gestation ), and embryogenesis of humans and other species.

In menopausal women on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), progesterone (P4) helps the body to equate estradiol (E2). Since progesterone's main role is to protect the uterine lining against estrogen prevailing, medical professionals used to assume that a woman does not need any further P4 treatment since estradiol levels decrease significantly. This led the medical world to think that progesterone is unnecessary after hysterectomy among women.

But progesterone has effects on the body outside of the uterus. We can find progesterone receptors in breast tissue, in bones and in the brain. In breast tissue, progesterone promotes milk-producing structures in the lactating mammary gland. When stimulated by tumor growth factors, progesterone can also stimulate abnormal breast tissue growth and be involved in progesterone receptor positive breast cancer. That doesn't mean the progesterone therapy in menopause will lead to breast cancer. The development of cancer cells is usually dependent on multiple different cellular mechanisms including abnormal function of tumor suppressor genes and severe oncogenes and cancer promoting factors in the environment. In studies, it was mostly the synthetic progesterone that was associated with increased breast cancer risk and not bioidentical micronized progesterone.

The benefits progesterone go far beyond its benefits for endometrial protection. Despite undergoing a hysterectomy, which involves the surgical removal of the uterus, progesterone remains important for several health benefits:

  1. Bone Health: While estrogen is primarily recognized for its role in preserving bone density, progesterone also plays a crucial part in bone health. Progesterone helps to stimulate bone-forming cells known as osteoblasts, thereby contributing to bone remodeling and strength. Research indicates that adequate levels of progesterone are associated with reduced risk of osteoporosis and fractures, particularly in postmenopausal women. By supporting bone density, progesterone helps to safeguard against the debilitating effects of osteoporosis, promoting skeletal integrity and resilience.

  2. Brain Function: Progesterone is not merely confined to reproductive functions; it exerts significant influence over cognitive processes and brain health as well. Studies suggest that progesterone possesses neuroprotective properties, shielding the brain against oxidative stress and inflammation. Progesterone can help regeneration of myelin sheets and nerve regeneration. Furthermore, progesterone has been linked to improved mood regulation and cognitive function, with some evidence suggesting its potential in mitigating symptoms of anxiety and depression. By nurturing brain health, progesterone contributes to overall mental well-being and cognitive vitality across the lifespan.

  3. Cardiovascular Health: The cardiovascular system also stands to benefit from the actions of progesterone. Progesterone exhibits vasodilatory effects, meaning it helps to widen blood vessels, thereby promoting optimal blood flow and circulation. Additionally, progesterone may exert protective effects on the cardiovascular system by modulating lipid metabolism, reducing inflammation, and preventing the formation of arterial plaques. These mechanisms collectively contribute to a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, and coronary artery disease, underscoring the importance of progesterone in maintaining heart health.

  4. Breast Health: Contrary to common misconceptions, progesterone plays a pivotal role in maintaining breast health and function. Alongside estrogen, progesterone helps to regulate the growth and development of breast tissue, particularly during the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. Importantly, progesterone counterbalances the proliferative effects of estrogen on breast tissue, thereby reducing the risk of hyperplasia and potentially lowering the risk of breast cancer. Additionally, progesterone supports the differentiation of breast epithelial cells, promoting healthy tissue architecture and reducing susceptibility to malignancy. By fostering breast health, progesterone contributes to the maintenance of overall breast well-being and may play a role in breast cancer prevention strategies.

  5. Symptom Management: Some women experience symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal dryness after hysterectomy, particularly if the ovaries are also removed (oophorectomy). Progesterone therapy may be beneficial in alleviating these symptoms and improving quality of life.

Conclusion: From bolstering bone density to safeguarding brain health, supporting cardiovascular function, and nurturing breast well-being, progesterone emerges as a versatile hormone with far-reaching benefits across multiple domains of health. Recognizing the integral role of progesterone in promoting overall well-being underscores the importance of hormonal balance and highlights the potential therapeutic avenues for optimizing health outcomes. As ongoing research continues to unravel the complexities of progesterone's physiological effects, its significance in maintaining vitality and resilience remains unequivocal, emphasizing the need for comprehensive approaches to hormone management and health promotion.

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