Many times when people think of progesterone, the first thing that comes to mind is its role in the pregnancy process in women. There are, however, many aspects through which progesterone in men has many implications which can affect how men feel, sleep, and maintain overall hormonal balance.
Progesterone is a building block for many hormones which include testosterone, a very important in defining male characteristics. It also builds bone mass, takes part in regulating blood sugar, brain activity, and functions throughout the body to ensure healthy balance. The process through which our bodies turn fat into energy is also affected by progesterone, as well as thyroid hormone production. These are just a few of the different aspects relating to how progesterone helps aid in processes throughout the body so it is clear why maintaining proper levels is important.
Progesterone in men is something that needs to be monitored because of the negative outcomes which can take place when levels are too low. Since progesterone is a precursor to testosterone, low levels can often result in lack of sex drive, as conversely, it is an antagonist to estrogen. When the balance of progesterone in men is inadequate, it can result in what is known as estrogen dominance, a condition frequently associated with women.
Estrogen dominance can result in the feminization of men as well as in nervousness, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, prostate enlargement, higher risk of prostate cancer, and low libido. Many of these negative effects have substantial implications when considering there can be ways to mitigate or even prevent estrogen dominance. We will touch on some of the solutions later in the article.
A few signs that can become apparent when beginning to experience estrogen dominance are baldness, body odor changes, breast growth, and reduced muscle development. This should be met with a cautionary note because progesterone in men can be a cause of these outcomes but is not necessarily the cause of them.
If you feel as though you have low levels of progesterone and it is causing you to experience some of the things discussed in this section, it is encouraged that you contact your healthcare professional to decipher what is actually going on in your body. It can be very difficult figure out what is happening without the opinion of an expert.
Petroleum products are everywhere in today’s society. It seems as though everything we encounter in our daily lives is packaged in thin plastics which are now known to be the largest source of xenoestrogen exposure. BPA and many other chemicals are known to cause disruptions in hormone balances. Their chemical structure resembles that of estrogen, and are called xenoestrogens. Excessive exposure can contribute to estrogen dominance.
When there is heat exposure to the plastics that we are using on a regular basis, in the form of dishwashers and microwaves, they tend to break down and release chemicals into our food and drinks. Since the body cannot metabolize these chemicals, they interfere with the endocrine system which can damage glands and affect hormones. A simple way to help reduce petroleum exposure is to store foods in non-plastic containers by using alternatives such as ceramic or glass.
The liver acts as a filter to clean and remove excess toxins from the body. One of these toxins can be estrogen. If the liver is already in a state of poor health due to excess food consumption, high sugar levels, too much alcohol, and high toxicity, then it will have a difficult time removing excess estrogen. When you consume foods that are high in sulfur such as onions and garlic, it can help to maintain healthy liver function as well as detoxification.
Alcohol causes blood estrogen levels to rise. Moderate drinking has been linked to lower levels of progesterone in men. There is also a link between alcohol consumption and lower levels of zinc absorption, which has a negative effect on progesterone production.
Progesterone’s overall regulation in the body is directly affected by our NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response.
The system through which our bodies cope with and handle stress is relatively complex. This is known as the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response. The NEM is essentially a complex web which consists of systems and organs which link together to form a functional network.
One of the many complaints that those who are under high levels of stress often reference is exhaustion and poor physical condition. As it turns out, there might be contributing factors that we are able to control which can help us reduce these symptoms. There is a cyclical theme regarding many of the issues associated with anxiety. When people become stressed or experience high toxicity, depression, and lethargy, the typical response is to run to something that can make us feel better quickly. Often these choices are inferior and self-damaging.
There is a strong link between NEM factors and progesterone in men. Because the NEM stress response affects the adrenal glands, which are known to produce some of the body’s progesterone, increased stress has a negative outcome when seeking hormonal balance. This can, over time, result in a very damaging cycle. NEM is mainly handled by the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis. Because the burden of stress rests on two endocrine backbones like the pituitary gland and the adrenal glands which are both vital to progesterone production, it’s easy to see how stress can interfere with the process of maintaining healthy progesterone production.
When the NEM system triggers the “fight or flight” response, the adrenal glands use progesterone to produce cortisol. This means that not only does stress reduce progesterone production, it also uses the progesterone that you have already produced to create cortisol. High levels of cortisol on a continued basis are not only unhealthy for much of the body but also need to be analyzed in relation to progesterone in men. Within the NEM response, no gland is more important than the adrenals when it comes to progesterone regular. Weak adrenals, such as those suffering from adrenal fatigue, can lead to progesterone dysregulation.
Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) is a condition where your body cannot cope with increased stress by producing enough hormones to combat the negative effects of the NEM stress response. AFS takes place when the body has compounding factors which prevent sufficient recovery from stress. There are many people who suffer from this as the causes and symptoms are extremely similar to those of low progesterone levels. Among them are: lethargy, anxiety, lack of sleep, confusion, malabsorption, and many others.
It is also very common for someone who is experiencing low progesterone to gain weight, which is another common symptom of AFS. This is a problem for a few reasons. With the focus on progesterone in men, when someone is overweight, their body cannot produce enough progesterone to counteract their levels of estrogen.
Earlier we touched on the fact that progesterone functions in tandem with the thyroid glands, helping them to produce more thyroid hormone which in turn helps metabolic health. When someone is suffering from AFS, it is often difficult to sleep and inflammation usually becomes unmanageable. Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory hormone but when it is produced in excess, the subsequent deficiency can prevent proper control of inflammation. In line with this same concept is the fact that if you are using all of your progesterone, which is anti-inflammatory in nature, to produce cortisol then you will not be able to reduce inflammation following a cortisol spike.
High levels of inflammation cause huge problems in the body. Inflammation results in many unwanted outcomes and it is a mainstay of adrenal fatigue problems. There can be lasting damage on the heart, brain, and liver when you are experiencing prolonged or chronic inflammation.
When considering the possibilities of this being the case for your inflammation, make sure to consult an expert regarding adrenal fatigue and its possible effects on your body.
One of the beautiful aspects of an issue like progesterone levels in men is that there are easy and natural steps that you can take to bring the body back into balance. Vitamin D has a large effect on sufficient progesterone production. If you have not had your levels of vitamin D checked and you are experiencing some of the symptoms laid out above, it is encouraged that you become aware.
Stress is another aspect through which your body can fall out of balance in regards to hormone production. When we experience high levels of stress, progesterone levels subsequently begin to fall. There are natural ways, without any adverse effects, to bring your progesterone levels higher. There are a few common methods that deserve discussion.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient for the pituitary gland which, in turn, regulates a sizeable amount of hormone production. Deficiency in magnesium has a direct correlation on the body’s ability to produce sufficient hormones. You can find magnesium in many foods including: dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, whole grains, and even dark chocolate.
Zinc is a mineral with a myriad of implications on several organs that are involved in progesterone production. Ways to get enough zinc include consuming more seafood, lean beef, cashews, as well as pumpkin and squash seeds.
A natural approach is most likely to be the best avenue to attempt hormone level normalization before turning to a pharmaceutical alternative. Though the completely natural method may be preferred by some, progesterone in men is something that needs to be monitored and regulated. If you think there is an issue with how you are producing progesterone it is important to consider all methods of resolving it.
Not everything can be solved by having a proper diet. Natural progesterone creams have a high success rate and are quite effective when attempting to increase levels of progesterone in Men . A truly natural progesterone cream will have the same molecular structure as the progesterone that is produced in your body. One should be careful when selecting a cream because there are many on the market which claim to be natural but are actually synthetic copies that don’t react in the same way that natural progesterone does, creating adverse effects and further issues.
Some progesterone creams contain plant estrogens; it’s easy to see why this could be counterproductive. When you are trying to counteract estrogen in the body while introducing new estrogen derivatives, you are essentially continuing the negative cycle that you are working to mitigate.
Excessive progesterone can cause havoc in your body and many side effects, including estrogen dominance. This unintended side effect can occur in small number of people due to the flow through effect of excessive natural progesterone in the body. The normal physiological replacement dose is 20 mg per day of transdermal cream for the female. Male usually requires much lower dose. For most, three to five mg is sufficient. Because progesterone has a sedative effect, many people tend to use it as a sleep aid.
Over time, progesterone overload occurs if the dosage is not titrated well. Dependency can occur. This can be very problematic. Some on testosterone replacement therapy are concurrently put on progesterone as well as other hormones including DHEA and pregnenolone. Such multi-hormone replacement program can increase energy and reduce fatigue. Unfortunately for most, this is usually temporary. Over time, increased doses are necessary to achieve the same clinical effect. Progesterone overload becomes a risk.
Abrupt cessation of progesterone can also cause withdrawal symptoms. Any contemplation of such replacement should proceed under professional guidance for best results.
One of the most common clinical mistakes is prescribing progesterone simply because the laboratory level is outside the normal range. While laboratory measurement has important significance in women, the significance in men in terms of clinical dosage guidance is less. Unless its for a specific reason, progesterone in men is usually not needed. A holistic perspective needs to be developed first in terms of understanding the underlying mechanics of the pathology concerned. Progesterone can be part of a comprehensive hormonal rebalancing program, but only for good reasons in males.
When someone is in an advanced stage of adrenal exhaustion, it can be unsafe or dangerous to make sudden changes to your daily routine. In the case of progesterone supplementation, anyone with liver congestion should be extra careful. Because progesterone is over 80 percent metabolized by the liver on the first pass through, excessive liver burden can be a problem. Those already have sub-clinical liver disease are particularly vulnerable. Progesterone can trigger liver congestion or extracellular matrix congestion. Symptoms such as anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, and pain of unknown origin can surface.
Always exercise caution when implementing new ideas and protocols as it is possible that something you’re doing to help your condition actually makes it worse. Those in advanced stages of AFS are particularly vulnerable due to their already fragile body and often weak and congested liver.
Progesterone in men is somewhat of a complex thing to consider. It is not always a simple thing to ascertain from where a particular issue derives. It is clear that there is a link between AFS, the NEM stress response, and progesterone levels in men. It seems to always be the case that for many people, several of these issues can be helped by taking part in simple things.
Meditation can be a great way to reduce stress. Taking some time out of your day to sit alone and relax can actually help you lessen the burden on your internal organs. This may seem like a foreign concept, but there is a lot of validity to it. When you can reduce stress through any exercise, mental or physical, it is something that should be considered. We have shown in this article that stress has a direct impact on progesterone levels and that the reduction of stress can be an alternative medicine of sorts to help rebalance your levels. A common clinical mistake is to supplement progesterone without a holistic perspective on the body. Even though replacement progesterone can be administered simply by way of cream or pills, long term progesterone replacement therapy can dysregulate other hormones if not properly monitored. Laboratory values are not accurate for male, as they are skewed towards women.
Topics like this can often seem simple yet they are complex. The purpose of touching on the relationships between all of these systems in the body is to show that there is not always one single cause for a problem. Frequently, it is a mix of several factors that are promoting a negative physical environment. Take the time to find out what is happening with your body, so that you can begin to rebalance and feel better for the future.
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.