Questions and Answers
1 What is progesterone?
2 What is progesterone made from?
3 What is the role of progesterone in men?
4 What is “estrogen dominance”?
5 What causes excess level of estrogen in men?
6 What are the symptoms of “estrogen
7 When should men start using natural
8 What is the dose of progesterone for men?
9 Who should not use progesterone?
10 How can men benefit from progesterone?
11 If natural progesterone has so many benefits, why
don't physicians routinely recommend it to their patients?
12 Any other benefits of progesterone supplementation?
1 What is
Progesterone is a steroid hormone made by both men and women. In
women, it is made the corpus luteum of the ovary and in smaller amounts
by the adrenal glands. In men, is produced in adrenal and
Progesterone is produced in the body from cholesterol and is a
precursor to most of the other steroid hormones, including cortisol and
pathway for biosynthesis of hormones (graph opens in new window)
2 What is
progesterone made from?
3 What is the role of
progesterone in men?
The Progesterone USP used in natural hormone replacement therapy
(NHRT) is made from a substance called diosgenin, which is most often
extracted from wild yam (Dioscorea villosa). In a laboratory
process, diosgenin is transformed into progesterone, identical with the
Some companies are selling diosgenin, which they label as "wild yam
extract" claiming that the body will then convert it into hormones as
needed. While this can be done in a laboratory, there is no
evidence that this conversion takes place in the human body.
In men, progesterone is produced in adrenal and testicular
tissue. It is the precursor to cortisol, testosterone, estrogen
and other hormones. All hormone levels drop with age and so does
the level of progesterone. This in turn causes additional
depletion of other hormones. Prolonged stress further depletes
progesterone because it increases the demand for cortisol.
4 What is “estrogen
This term coined by Dr. John R. Lee* relates to a
condition when there is insufficient progesterone in proportion to
estrogen (estrogen is unbalanced or unopposed).
5 What causes excess
level of estrogen in men?
Contrary to the popular belief that estrogen is a “female” hormone, it
is also present in men, as a result of testosterone conversion - see
the diagram “Biosynthesis pathway of hormones”. Normal serum
concentration of estradiol in men is 20 – 50 picograms/ml.
As well as women, men can also experience the effects of excess
Major causes of estrogen dominance in men:
- environmental estrogens; our food is a significant
source of those: livestock is fed estrogens to grow faster and
gain weight by retaining water; crops are sprayed with pesticides that
- impaired liver function
- prolonged intense stress increases demand for
cortisol, which is made from progesterone. The process leaves
less progesterone available for balancing estrogen.
6 What are the
symptoms of “estrogen dominance”?
According to John R. Lee, M.D.*, symptoms of
estrogen dominance that men can experience include weight gain,
bloating, mood swings, irritability, headaches, fatigue, depression and
hypoglycemia. Estrogen dominance is known to contribute to cancer
of prostate and the breast. It may seem paradoxical, but men are
not immune to breast cancer.
7 When should men
start using natural progesterone?
Men can enjoy many of the non-female-specific benefits of the
hormone. Dr. Lee* has recommended
progesterone supplementation for men in their late forties and older,
when they experience low energy or fatigue, decreased libido, have
increased body fat, enlarged prostate or to want to help prevent
Progesterone is needed to counter-balance the effects of excess
estrogens. Also, by blocking the enzyme 5a-reductase (see the diagram),
progesterone inhibits the conversion of testosterone to
dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a stimulant of prostate cell growth.
8 What is the dose of
progesterone for men?
It should not exceed 8 mg per day. Depending on body weight, an
average daily dose is 3 - 5 mg. The dose can be single or split
between morning and afternoon. Progesterone should be used for 21
to 25 consecutive days in a month and discontinued until the end of the
month; the cycle is then repeated.
Excessive long-term use of progesterone (or any other hormones) may
lead to hormonal imbalance.
9 Who should not use
Persons with active liver disease or severely impaired liver function.
Consult your health care practitioner if you have a chronic medical
problem or taking a regularly prescribed medication.
Health care professionals
experienced in natural hormone replacement therapy can be found at:
Wellness Plan for Men - Joseph
McWherter, M.D. www.femcentre.com/men3.html
10 How can men
benefit from progesterone?
Progesterone is needed for many reasons, but one of its most important
roles is to oppose the negative effects of excess estrogen.
John R. Lee, M.D.* lists the following benefits of
- Protects against prostate cancer
- Helps normalize blood sugar levels
- Helps use fat for energy
- Prevents water accumulation (acts as mild diuretic)
- Helps (normalizes) thyroid hormone function
- Stimulates new bone formation (osteoporosis
protection and even reversal)
- Improves brain function, has antidepressant
- Improves skin problems including acne, seborrhea,
- Diminishes muscular aches and pains, has
- Improves sleep pattern
- Improves libido.
11 If natural
progesterone has so many benefits, why don't physicians routinely
recommend it to their patients?
Progesterone is a natural substance and as such cannot be patented for
sale at high profit margins. That makes pharmaceutical companies
uninterested in marketing and promoting natural products such as
progesterone. If pharmaceutical representatives don't
market a product to physicians, many physicians are simply unaware of
paragraphs are based on the interview with Katharina Dalton, MD
“Progesterone and Related Topics”, published by International Journal
of Pharmaceutical Compounding, September/October 1999.
Progesterone receptors are present in men, women and children of all
ages. People should be more aware that progesterone has many
important functions: it looks after the smoothness of blood vessels;
the myelin sheaths of nerves in men, women and children; and it
prevents water retention in the brain of men, women and children.
In other words, it’s needed by men, women and children.
We all need systemic progesterone, which is essentially adrenal
progesterone. Additionally, women have ovarian progesterone that
can reach very high levels. During pregnancy, it can be 1000
times higher than the systemic progesterone that men and children have.
What is the role of progesterone in
Progesterone receptors are found, among other sites, in the endothelial
lining of blood vessels. It’s those receptors that keep
endothelial lining nice and smooth. With excess estrogen, the
exact opposite happens: the endothelium becomes lumpy and bumpy,
therefore excessive estrogen (unbalanced by progesterone) makes us
prone to clotting diseases, strokes and angina. Also, the ability
of the blood vessels to relax is related to the presence of
progesterone receptors and sufficient progesterone level to stimulate
them. Insufficient progesterone may affect one way or another the
many systems of the body, including blood vessels. Men who do not
have sufficient amount of progesterone tend to get cardiovascular
diseases in their 40s, whereas women are protected until after their
In other words, progesterone is necessary to maintain cardiovascular
Men also need progesterone for their bones; they tend to get
osteoporosis earlier than women because women are protected to a
certain extent, particularly with their pregnancies, when they have a
high level of progesterone for nine months.
We all need progesterone for the brain, specifically for myelin sheaths
of the nerves.
Does the level of progesterone
decrease as the result of adrenal stress?
Yes, and you end up with progesterone deficiency at one or more sites
in the body. It might be the blood vessels that get affected.
Does progesterone affect hair growth?
Yes, it certainly affects hair growth in women. Many women lose
some hair shortly after pregnancy. The reason is that their
progesterone level decreases dramatically. Some unlucky women
experience total hair loss. But with progesterone supplementation
their hair regrows amazingly.
Are there any other benefits of
Progesterone facilitates healing process after an injury. Trauma,
including that resulting from cerebral accidents, heals quicker in
pre-menopausal women than in men because they have more
progesterone. Also, they have far less water retention in the
brain. For that reason some neurosurgeons use progesterone
injections prior to surgery to prevent swelling due to water retention.
in this publication is based on the following books, which offer
detailed explanation of women's and men’s hormone balance issues,
hormone balance programs, as well as detailed descriptions of how to
use natural hormones. Although most of the information in the
books has been provided for women, they contain a wealth of information
applicable to men:
John R. Lee, M.D. Hormone Balance for Men. Book available
online at www.johnleemd.com
John R. Lee, M.D. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About
Menopause: The Breakthrough Book on Natural Progesterone.
John R. Lee, M.D. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About
Premenopause: Balance Your Hormones and Life from Thirty to Fifty.
Uzzi Reiss, M.D., O.B.-GYN. Natural Hormone Balance for Women:
Look Younger, Feel Stronger and Live Life with Exuberance.
Jonathan V. Wright, M.D. Natural Hormone Replacement.
Joseph McWherter, M.D. Avoiding Breast Cancer While Balancing
Your Hormones. The FEM Centre Breast Cancer Program. Book
available online at www.femcentre.com
Information in this publication is not
intended to replace any medical treatment prescribed by your physician.
For those with chronic medical problems or taking a regularly
prescribed medication, please consult your health care practitioner.
Statements in this publication
have not been evaluated by the
Food and Drug Administration
The products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent