Susan Merenstein, Pharmacist/Owner

(412) 586-4678

We NEED Progesterone!

We talk a lot about estrogen, especially in perimenopause and menopause. But there’s another hormone that’s equally important to women’s health (and sanity): progesterone. And honestly, it’s progesterone’s steep decline that can start in your 30s that really starts to kick off the difficult and debilitating perimenopause and menopause symptoms.

If you’ve been experiencing headaches, migraines, PMS, period pain, anxiety, depression, hot flashes, night sweats, or your cycle is unpredictable — a lack of sufficient progesterone may be the culprit.

Progesterone v. Progestins (Synthetic Frankenstein molecules)

First things first, let’s be 100% clear. The progesterone, covered in this blog is the natural hormone that your body makes every month at ovulation.

A lot of doctors and even researchers mistakenly use the word “progesterone” to describe a synthetic hormone known as progestin. Progestin is what’s in hormonal IUDs and the combination birth control pill and are “prescribed progesterones”. There are warnings attached to these synthetic mimickers of our natural ovary produced progesterone and Progestins have many side effects including:

Breast tenderness, headaches, depression, acne, vomiting, fatigue, weight gain, anxiety, dizziness, mood swings and many more!

Progestins are man-made and are NOT natural BIO-identical progesterone!

Progesterone’s job in the body:

Progesterone is mainly produced in the body after you ovulate. (1) When you’re still cycling, what happens is each month, your body chooses one dominant follicle that contains an egg to be the “chosen one.” The egg then bursts out of the follicle onto the ovarian surface and travels into the fallopian tube and then to the uterus.

The cells of the follicle that get left behind form the corpus luteum (yellow body), a temporary structure that releases progesterone. (2) The idea is that if you get pregnant, you will need progesterone to help support the pregnancy.

But progesterone does so much more than just support the early stages of pregnancy.

It is the calming yin to estrogens yang.

It also supports your heart and nervous system and Progesterone is absolutely critical for your brain.

It’s not just a “pregnancy hormone” as many people assume although the name ProGesterone means in favor of pregnancy.

Progesterone in Perimenopause and Menopause

As you age, you ovulate less. Enter Menopause. Your body stops preparing you to get pregnant every month, so it doesn’t release an egg reliably every single time.

So when you don’t ovulate you don’t produce very much progesterone or you don’t ovulate at all and then NO progesterone is produced.

In women with other hormone imbalances, notably endometriosis, thyroid disease, or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), their bodies may not ovulate regularly, either. Same if a woman is suffering from an eating disorder or exercising too hard. Stress can cause your progesterone levels to decrease too. As you can see, there are many causes of a decrease in progesterone. Be aware of your symptoms, get educated and take a pro-active role in your health, and investigate the cause of an-ovulation.

In a lot of women’s Perimenopause, which can be up to 15 years before Menopause, these anovulatory cycles start to happen in their mid-thirties. The result is a sharp and sudden drop in progesterone levels. But unless you’re actively trying to conceive or just not taking notice of your cycle — you probably won’t know whether you’re ovulating or not. A woman may just start to notice some very uncomfortable things start to happen in her body. If she is not paying attention, she may just think these symptoms are unrelated to her hormones. (And many doctors too!)

Women may experience the following when their Progesterone levels are low:

Anxiety, Bloating, Brain fog, Breast Tenderness, Depression, Difficulty Conceiving, Hair Loss, Headaches, Horrible PMS, Insomnia, Irregular cycles, Migraines, Mood swings and changes, Painful Periods, and Weight Gain.


Progesterone is the body’s balancing and calming hormone and it tempers estrogens affect on mood, the cycle and whether or not you have PMS symptoms.

Progesterone helps to calm the brain and stop the nagging thoughts in your head and help you sleep.

How do we increase Progesterone?

1. Reduce Stress

One of my favorite progesterone boosters is to simply reduce stress. Although not always easy to do, but stress is a major Progesterone stealer.

Our stress hormone cortisol, is made in the adrenal glands and it is made from Progesterone but also can be balanced and calmed by Progesterone. That’s a big deal for any woman who’s already low on progesterone and experiencing chronic stress.

Some of my favorite stress reduction techniques are exercise, yoga, and generally learning to say “no” to situations and people who are energy robbers.

2. Eat lots of healthy fats

Healthy fats are an essential part of any diet, but they are particularly important if you’re looking to increase progesterone naturally. Our adrenal glands are like a standby resource for your hormones. When they aren’t producing cortisol, your adrenals can focus on turning cholesterol into hormones like pregnenolone and then progesterone. This helps us keep our hormones balanced.

3. Get other important vitamins and nutrients:

In nature, there aren’t any food sources for progesterone. Getting the right nutrients will provide your body what it needs to function at top level, and that includes creating hormones.

Some important nutrients you want to make sure you’re getting enough of include:


Zinc is a crucial part of the ovulation process because it’s necessary for your pituitary gland to signal follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) which kind of kicks off the ovulation process. Zinc is found in foods like beef, oysters, pumpkin seeds, and chickpeas. You can also supplement with zinc if you aren’t getting enough of it in your diet.


Selenium is another mineral that’s required for ovulation. Brazil nuts are a great source of Selenium— they are sources of selenium and can support hormone balance, as well as your skin, hair, and eyes.

Vitamin C

Through its affect and support on the adrenal glands, Vitamin C is an excellent nutrient to combat stress. It can increase the effects of progesterone in the body, and encourage progesterone production. Vitamin C is found in foods like citrus fruits and broccoli, but I take it as a supplement daily.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is one of those nutrients that help your hormones on many levels. It has even been studied as a treatment for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). (3) I recommend Pyridoxal 5’Phosphate and Zinc combined for hormone support.


Magnesium is crucial for hormone balance. It helps manage cramps and can help you relax and sleep better. Did you know that magnesium is a part of your progesterone receptor function? It’s also incredibly important for about 400-600 other enzyme reactions in your body and it’s absolutely essential for your brain. Magnesium is abundant in foods like spinach and almonds. When considering a supplement, be sure to get a formula like our Elemental Magnesium Bisglycinate that includes highly bioavailable forms of magnesium that cross the blood-brain barrier and won’t loosen your bowels.

4. Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is crucial for hormone balance but when progesterone is low, it decreases your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is why sleep challenges are one of the most common complaints for women in menopause. While you’re working on getting your progesterone levels up, you may want to try our Sleep Ezz product with 2 Elemental Magnesium capsules at bed for restorative, rejuvenating sleep. Our CBD Elderberry and CBN gummies work well too!

5. Use OTC Bioidentical Progesterone

The most important thing to remember is that PROGESTINS are NOT PROGESTERONE! At the beginning of this blog, I warned you about the dangers of synthetic progesterone, also known as progestin.

I have been using bioidentical progesterone cream for almost 25 years. The topical formula bypasses the first pass effect in the liver and gets absorbed into the bloodstream by applying to the labia or wrist nightly before bed. (Always take a hormone holiday and if you are menopausal use the cream Monday through Saturday)

And it’s exactly the same as what your body makes or bioidentical. Down to the very structure of the ovary produced Progesterone molecule.

For many women later in perimenopause and menopause — this is the most viable option for alleviating those difficult symptoms because your body just needs more progesterone than you can trick it into making.

Bioidentical progesterone is the secret weapon that many women find helps you to sleep better, ease hot flashes, and keep your mood more even. Bioidentical progesterone also helps to regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce PMS when you’re still cycling. That’s the power of having enough progesterone circulating in your body!

How long will it take to feel better?

As always, make sure you consult with your doctor before starting any kind of hormone therapy.

My motto is “Be aware of your symptoms, get educated, and take a proactive role in your health”.


All journeys take time so be patient and tweak where you need to regarding diet and important nutrients, sleep, movement, and stress. But stay tuned in to what your body is saying always, it will be your guide.

Get the support you need by using topical bioidentical Progesterone.


Zinc Picolinate Elemental 25mg

Selenium 200mcg 60 caps

Vitamin C 1000mg Tablets

Magnesium Chelate Elemental 150mg

At-Home Test Kits

Progesterone Cream, USP

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