Dear Pharmacist: I bought a home test kit (saliva test) that measures my hormones. Everything came back normal except my progesterone, which was extremely low. Could low progesterone explain my symptoms of weight gain, hot flashes and depression?
- T.P., Dallas, Texas
A: Yes, absolutely, and there's an over-the-counter fix. The symptoms that could plague a person with low progesterone (also termed estrogen dominance) include weight gain, depression, fatigue, irritability, incontinence, insomnia, heart disease, infertility and osteoporosis. The picture of low progesterone is not pretty! Unfortunately, millions of people walk around with imbalanced hormones for many years and never get diagnosed or treated properly.
It is because we live in a pill-popping society that wants the drugs advertised on TV, not one that understands the power of bio-identical hormone replacement, key word "bio-identical."
The medical establishment is also to blame. If you tell your doctor you are tearful and tired, you may have bought yourself a lifetime of anti-depressants. A man with heart disease or erectile dysfunction is rarely given testosterone replacement; rather, he is prescribed sex pills and given a stent. So sad, because correcting hormone imbalances is the key to losing weight, improving heart function, preventing diabetes and enhancing mood.
Home test kits that use saliva are sold online and in progressive weight-loss centers, compounding pharmacies and holistic physician offices. The most popular one is made by ZRT Labs; it measures various hormones including estradiol, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol and progesterone. Transdermal testing (versus blood testing) is particularly useful if you already apply hormonal creams to your body. Many people do, especially since natural, bio-identical progesterone cream is sold in the United States at health food stores nationwide and online.
Clearly, you are not applying a natural progesterone cream to your skin, but it sounds as if you should because you are deficient and have the symptoms. Ask your physician about it and get a copy of my Breast Cancer E-book at my Web site.
Why is doctor approval and supervision such a big deal when applying natural progesterone cream? It's a good question, since progesterone is over-the-counter and might improve or cure those awful conditions I mentioned. It's because in certain people, the cells have been missing the proper ratio of hormones (especially estrogen) for many years. So you could be supersensitive to the sudden application of progesterone, and boom, you get a backlash of side effects (like spotting and hot flashes at 65 years old).
Correcting the ratio of hormones, improving estrogen levels before progesterone gets introduced is really one huge factor of anti-aging. One more thing, over-the-counter progesterone cream is NOT the same as the prescription drug, Provera.
Did you know?
Tanning beds are now thought to dramatically increase the risk of melanomas and may get a cancer risk warning by the FDA.
This information is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition.
Suzy Cohen, author of "The 24-Hour Pharmacist," can be reached at www.DearPharmacist.com