The Hormone That Makes You Look More Attractive

If you're feeling out of whack (dull, bloated, moody, etc.), and not sure what's to blame, it could be a progesterone imbalance. It's surprisingly more common than you think and it's something you can treat with the right mindset. Here, we got the scoop from Dr. Laurie Steelsmith, naturopathic physician and co-author of Natural Choices for Women's Health, on what it is and how it affects your body, beauty and health, so you can be in the know if it's happening to you.

Progesterone, a hormone that is naturally released by the ovaries when a woman ovulates, is important for supporting regular menstruating, fertility and sex drive. "When there is adequate progesterone in the body and it's in balance with other hormones, a woman's endocrine system hums along at a nice and even pace," says Dr. Steelsmith. "A woman with balanced progesterone has very little, if any, premenstrual symptoms, she sleeps well at night, has a normal flow to her periods (its not too heavy, and not too light) and has regular menstrual cycles that aren't too short or too long, and she looks and feels like a balanced, vibrant and healthy woman."  

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However, when the body has a progesterone imbalance and there is too little of it, Dr. Steelsmith says it can result in fluid retention, puffiness and a bloated feeling. Some signs that a progesterone imbalance is the root of your problems are irregular menstrual cycles; premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms including swollen or tender breasts, mood swings, irritability, bloating or water retention; digestive disturbances like diarrhea or constipation; and weight gain. "Women can have their progesterone levels tested in the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle (the second half, which is typically around day 21 of a 28-day cycle)," explains Dr. Steelsmith. "The test can be done via blood, urine or saliva. Lower-than-optimal levels can cause a condition known as 'estrogen dominance'—a term that means a woman has more estrogen than progesterone in the luteal phase of her cycle. Optimally, a woman would have more progesterone than estrogen during the luteal phase for balanced hormones."

It's also important to note that having imbalanced progesterone can start at any time in life if the person is under excessive stress or has an endocrine imbalance like polycystic ovarian syndrome. "It can occur after childbirth, and in some women, there can be sharp declines in progesterone in their perimenopause," says Dr. Steelsmith. "Some women begin to have decreases in progesterone in their early 30s, and the most common signs are changes in their cycles, and more PMS. It is imperative that women know the signs of lowered progesterone so that they can act on correcting the imbalance. Having adequate progesterone will increase the quality of a woman's life. It will ultimately help her to feel her best, and in turn, support her in looking her best!" 

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To help boost progesterone levels naturally, Dr. Steelsmith recommends the following, which she has seen patients experience results within one month of implementing:

1. Take chaste berry. "It’s an herb that has been found to help support the production of progesterone. My favorite product is Asensia, because research suggests it can boost progesterone production by 153 percent."

2. Eat a balanced, healthy and densely nutritious diet. "A whole foods diet full of omega-3 fats like those found in pumpkin seeds and walnuts are beneficial for healthy hormones and skin. Sweet potatoes are great for supporting adrenal health. I'm also a big fan of juicing vegetables on a daily basis for getting a big boost of nutrition and vital energy from food."

3. Exercise moderately with including aerobic movement, resistance training and stretching like yoga. "Exercise supports happy hormones through modulating cortisol, the stress hormone that can wreak havoc on the natural rhythm of a woman's cycle." 

4. Get enough sleep to allow your body to heal and recharge each day. "Sleep is a powerful healer for promoting hormonal health and supporting the adrenal glands."

  • Pat
    Posted on

    I've had a total hysterectomy about 7 yrs ago because of cervical cancer. Since that time, my ob-gyn who performed the surgery has never said anything about hormones, or hormone replacement therapy. After reading this article, since I've had every female reproductive part removed, could I still be suffering from a progesterone deficiency? My hair has been falling out since I've had the total hysterectomy, I have lo libido, fatigue, weight gain, etc etc. What should my next step be? I've also been diagnosed with diabetes and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I wonder what is going on and what kind of doctor I should go see?

  • Violet
    Posted on

    At age 27 my libido and menstrual cycle both halted. It took years to find out the problem was low progesterone, and in turn, caused estrogen dominance (and symptoms of). when i first tried to figure out what was wrong, my gynecologist told me that my hormones had crashed, probably due to stress, and put me on a birth control that contained high estrogen. I started getting my period again,but at a high cost. My PMS and period had always been so horrible that i would have to be in bed for the first couple of days of menstruation, however, this was worse. Nothing positive happened, instead, my hair started falling out, my skin started drying out (i HAD super oily skin), i would wake up sweating in the middle of the night and ran hot constantly, my fatigue became even worse ALL the time, my skin became super sensitive to everything i put on it, I'd get ingrown hairs constantly, and i became forgetful. I was always an A student and now i couldnt remember the most ridiculous things, and my short term memory was almost nonexistent. I now find out this is called "brain fog" and is a symptom of what's really wrong with me. I went off of the medication by myself and stopped seeing my gyno. I wasn't getting better; I was getting worse. Once I stopped the birth control my period went away again, and even though I still had these horrible symptoms, they weren't as severe. The hot flashes stopped as well. I decided to go to an endocrinologist after all of that, and I finally found out that my hormonal problem was that my body was barely making an progesterone. I made sure to get copies of my labs as well to know what was going on this time. I have to find a new endocrinologist because this doctor doesn't want me to go on progesterone cream but at the same time has done nothing else to help me for 2 years. So, I've been seriously suffering for 6 years in every way from this and have to start all over again soon with another doctor. I can attest that progesterone is the beauty hormone. I used to be a model and now I hate going outside because these hormonal problems have caused so many skin and hair problems that it's embarrassing and depressing...and the non existent libido, mental issues, fatigue, and other symptoms make me feel like my body is working against me. I just want to share what hormone problems can do to you. Everyone needs to know that hormonal problems are a serious thing.

  • Darla Smith
    Posted on

    I was taking progesterone pills to control excessive bleeding due to fibroids. It only worked temporarily until I had surgery. After surgery I felt my harmones where out of control but didn't want to be on harmone replacement therapy. After researching a more natural way to balance my hormones I was feeling myself again with less symptoms.

  • Gretchen
    Posted on

    My Dr. put me on a 20% progesterone cream to help with horrible cramps and endometriosis pain. After 5 months of using it day 12-26 of my cycle, I'm happy to say it's really working.

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