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Progesterone — Promote Pregnancy, The Feel Good Hormone
The word progesterone comes from the words “pro”, meaning “for”, and “gest”, meaning “for gestation or pregnancy”. This means that the main function of progesterone in a woman’s body is to promote pregnancy, and to help a woman carry her baby to full term when she becomes pregnant. It has been found that progesterone is released in a woman’s body in spurts throughout the day. Up to 80% of the progesterone that a woman makes during pregnancy, is made by the placenta. Progesterone is often called the “feel good” hormone, as many women find that they feel their best when they are pregnant and their progesterone level is approximately 100 times as much as the amount of progesterone they have in their body during their menstrual cycles. It is the drop in the progesterone levels that occurs during post partum [after the birth of the baby], that appears to be responsible for the post partum blues, or in some cases, post partum depression or post partum psychosis [lack of touch with reality]. To add insult to injury, in many locations, a woman is not considered mentally stable enough to sign legal papers until she is more than 6 months post partum when her sex hormones have stabilized.
Progesterone is released in spurts during the day and has many roles in a woman’s body including:
- acting as a natural diuretic to eliminate excess fluid from a woman’s body
- strengthening a woman’s immune system and defenses
- decreasing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome [PMS]
- making the menstrual cycles regular and menstruation normal and uneventful
- reducing breast tenderness and pain
- producing a calming, anti–anxiety effect
- helping a woman to have a sounder, deeper sleep
- increasing HDL, the body’s “good” cholesterol
- protecting the breasts, uterus, and probably the ovaries from cancer
- reducing a woman’s craving for carbohydrates and sweets
Progesterone enters easily into its target cells, attaches to the progesterone receptors inside the target cells, and is then carried into the nucleus or center of the cell where it is used to stimulate different actions.
The following illustration shows the pattern of progesterone production throughout a woman’s life.
Ovarian Progesterone Production Over A Woman’s Lifetime