“Hey wait, what is progesterone, and what does progesterone do? I have barely heard of it!” If you are like most people, this is what you may have thought to yourself after you read the title.
After all, not many people know what it, much less what it does or are used for. This article will attempt to answer these questions. Read further to learn the answers.
What is Progesterone?
“I have heard about it, lots of times. However, I have no idea what it is!” Of course, if you have ever been pregnant or have been around pregnant women, you know all about progesterone.
If you have not, you may be saying this when you hear the word “progesterone” mentioned. The answer is progesterone is a naturally made hormone. It can also be made in a laboratory. Here is something to know about the hormone: when the body makes it, it is called it.
However, it is referred to as progestin when made in a laboratory. Progestin is used in birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
What Are Progesterone’s Many Uses?
As mentioned earlier, progestin is used in birth control pills. Its high concentrations in these products fool the woman body into thinking that she is pregnant so that she doesn’t ovulate.
Believe it or not, it can be made synthetically. When it is, it is referred to as, crinone or Prometrium. The main active ingredient of these products is diosgenin, which is extracted from soybeans and wild yams.
Note that this can only be done in a laboratory setting. Progesterone is also used in over-the-counter (OTC) products though perhaps not in the levels the manufacturers claim on their labels.
Because the FDA does not regulate these products, their manufacturers are allowed some leeway when making these products.
What Does Progesterone Do?
Now it’s time to answer the cardinal question, “what does progesterone do?” The answer is explained below. It is a steroid hormone. The corpus luteum, a temporary endocrine gland that women produce after they ovulate, produces and secretes it in their bodies.
Almost all women have a uterus. The inner lining of it is called the endometrium. When a woman’s corpus luteum releases progesterone, which stimulates the endometrium to thicken to accept the egg if it is fertilized.
If no fertilized egg enters the endometrium, the corpus luteum immediately breaks down, thus dramatically lowering its levels. Women get their period a week after this happens.
What Does Progesterone Do If The Egg is Fertilized?
The answer to the question of what does progesterone does if the egg is fertilized is complicated. It occurs in a process that consists of many steps. The first step is to encourage the fertilized egg to implant itself in the thickened endometrium.
The progesterone in the woman’s body also stimulates the endometrium to grow to the extent needed for it to produce the blood vessels necessary to provide nutrition to the fertilized egg upon implantation.
The next step is for the fertilized egg to divide and form a blastocyst. This blastocyst then divides further and forms an embryo.
The real action with it doesn’t begin until the fetus’s placenta develops.
When this happens, it starts producing progesterone which supports it already being provided by the corpus luteum.
This keeps progesterone levels in the pregnant woman’s body very high. Her body stops producing eggs until the baby is born. Elevated levels of progesterone send signals which stimulate milk production in her breasts.
Progesterone And Cancer: The Links
It is a hormone that helps trigger healthy periods and pregnancies. Amazingly enough, new research suggests that progesterone may help slow down the growth of certain types of breast cancer. It is especially the case when combined with traditional cancer-killing drugs like Tamoxifen.
The results of several years’ worth of clinical research indicate that breast cancer patients who were treated with high levels of estrogen and progesterone therapy in conjunction with drugs like Tamoxifen went into remission faster with few instances of relapse.
This is good news because half of all breast cancer patients either have higher levels of estrogen or progesterone.
Now More Women Will Survive Breast Cancer
The fact that progesterone therapy can help send breast cancer into remission and keep it there is good news because breast cancer is one of the leading killers of women, especially older women.
The receptors for progesterone and estrogen interact directly with cells in breast tissue, and this is what causes breast cancer to grow and spread.
When extra levels of it and estrogen are inserted into these receptors, they stopped talking with the breast tissue cells as much, and the tumors stopped growing and began to shrink.
This finding is extraordinarily encouraging for those cancer researchers who want to try to find more ‘natural’ therapies in terms of treating breast cancer.
Other Uses For Progesterone
Many believe that it can also be used as part of therapies for infertility. Many people around the world currently depend on in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to have kids. Check out – Many therapies are on the horizon, which would naturally increase progesterone levels in women with lower levels.
This would make it easier for them to get pregnant. It would also substantially and dramatically reduce miscarriage risks and rates for them.
The verdict is out, and it can be seen as being a ’wonder drug’ that helps regulate a woman’s ability to get and stay pregnant. It also could play a promising role in helping to find real treatments for various types of breast cancer! It may well be a ’cure-all hormone!’