What Is It?
For many women, natural progesterone cream appears to provide significant relief from symptoms related to shifts in the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.
For younger women, such imbalances are often associated with PMS or endometriosis, and bring on symptoms such as irritability, breast tenderness, and pelvic pain. For older women entering menopause,
decreasing supplies of estrogen can cause hormonal imbalances, producing hot flashes, mood swings, urinary urgency, and poor concentration.
Natural progesterone cream starts with a plant base–often either soybeans or Mexican wild yam. When wild yam is used, for example, a molecule called diosgenin is extracted from the plant and converted in a lab to create a molecule exactly like that of human progesterone. The natural hormone is then added back into the cream. The hormone
is believed to pass through the skin and then circulate through the body.
Unlike progesterone, which is sold in pill form and regulated like other prescription drugs, this “natural” cream
form (which is only applied topically) is allowed to be sold over-the-counter because of a loophole in the FDA’s regulatory rules. Many women going through perimenopause or menopause try it as a “gentle”
alternative to the progesterone found in conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs.
Although effective in relieving symptoms, there is little evidence that the cream protects against either osteoporosis or heart disease, two reasons why some women start HRT, in any significant way. In addition, the final word on whether the cream will lower the risk for breast and uterine cancer is also pending, but many sources contend that with the minimal amount of progesterone in the cream, it’s unlikely to alter cancer risk one way or the other.
When selecting a product, be sure to inspect the list of ingredients carefully; if you don’t see progesterone in a concentration of at least 400 mg per ounce listed among the ingredients, the cream won’t work. Also, if the label lists only Mexican wild yam but no progesterone, then the manufacturer is making the assumption that your body will convert the yam to progesterone In fact, your body cannot make this conversion, and this cream won’t be effective.
To use the cream, smooth about 1/4 teaspoon twice a day onto the relatively thinner skin on the tummy, breasts, inner thighs, or inner forearms, avoiding the thicker skin on other parts of your body, such as your hands, for example. For PMS symptoms, use the cream during the seven to 10 days before expected flow, stopping when flow starts. For menopause symptoms, use the cream twice daily, skipping one week of every month. For endometriosis,
use the cream twice daily when not menstruating.
There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with natural progesterone cream.
There have been no long-term studies on the safety of using progesterone cream, but risks and side effects seem to be minimal.
Don’t use the cream during pregnancy or while breast-feeding unless your doctor specifically recommends it.
Large amounts of the cream–in excess of commonly recommended dosages–can cause spotting in postmenopausal women. If this happens, reduce the amount of cream being applied.
Endometriosis 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. applied to smooth skin areas, such as wrists, inner arms, chest, inner thighs, twice a day starting mid-cycle (ovulation) and stopping at flow
Menopause 1/2 tsp. once a day (or twice a day for more severe symptoms). Apply to smooth skin areas, such as wrists, inner arms, chest, or inner thighs. Use daily on a two-weeks-on/two-weeks-off basis; for more severe symptoms, use three-weeks on/one-week off.
Perimenopause If still menstruating: 1/2 tsp. a day (or twice a day for more severe symptoms). Apply to smooth skin areas, such as wrists, inner arms, chest, inner thighs, starting two weeks before menstruation begins and stopping at flow. Follow this schedule each month.
If no longer menstruating: 1/2 tsp. a day (or twice a day for more severe symptoms). Apply to smooth skin, following a schedule of two weeks on, two weeks off, or for more severe symptoms, three weeks on, one week off.
PMS 1/4 tsp. 2% cream applied to an area of hairless skin, such as inner forearms or thighs, in the morning and evening in the second half of your cycle.
David Edelberg, MD