(And 9 situations that may benefit by testing and detoxing or trial of progesterone replacement in both males and females)
Progesterone is mankind’s dear friend. This hormone “activates” sperm so it can meet, mate, and mingle with eggs. It prepares the uterus to support a birth and it supports much of the whole process of pregnancy. It even protects the brain and nervous systems in both the young and old.
But many new chemicals are enemies of this hormone. And today a new progesterone “blocker”—called anti-progestins—showed up in a fascinating Italian study run on females. This progesterone hijacker is found in most home medicine cabinets. It is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory over-the-counter pain meds, which are nicknamed NSAIDs. Many of us have been trained by media to pop NSAIDs for headaches, menstrual pain, arthritic joint pain, pain from a gym workout, or even take it prophylactically before a competition. But taking NSAIDs, we now learn, may be part of your insomnia, your neurologic illness, and worse, possibility contributing to your infertility. Read on.
Progesterone got its name from the concept of PROGEST: pro = to sustain and gest = gestation, meaning support for the birth and growth of a fetus. Progesterone helps the act of egg “mating”, egg “feeding,” boosting estrogen signaling, controlling estrogen signaling, supporting the growth of the womb/room, and many more steps of new life.
Progesterone is typically thought to be female, as it is most known as being made by the remnant of a ruptured follicle after an egg bursts out, called the corpus luteum (which stands for “yellow body” as this is high in carotenoids; thus, yellow veggies—like yams—help your body make progesterone).
So we mostly think of progesterone living in the female body doing female things.
- But progesterone is also made in the adrenal glands in both men and women and boys and girls.
- And progesterone is also made right inside the brain in both men and women and boys and girls.
So progesterone has many benefits for all of us that are not just related to pregnancy, fetuses, or all things female.
In the brain, progesterone teams up with vitamin D to protect the entire nervous system from inflammation run amok. In this way progesterone acts as a neuro-protective steroid. It protects the spinal chord, nerves, and brain, and maybe even the optic nerve, which is an extension of the brain, from neuro-degeneration. In this way, progesterone protects against and may be part of a functional medicine treatment program for neurologic, demyelinating, and inflammatory nervous conditions from epilepsy to Multiple Sclerosis to more.
In the brain, progesterone also supports deep restorative sleep. Young brains make more progesterone and sleep is easier. Aging brains make less and sleep can become horrifically elusive.
Get the point? We need progesterone.
But today’s progesterone is under attack.
We have many endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the environment that act as “anti-progestins.” These enter the progesterone receptor and “clog” the receptor so natural progesterone is hijacked from delivering its signal.
Here are a few examples of “progesterone’s new chemical enemies” (post WWII): These can block progesterone signals in all of us, young and old, pregnant or not, male and female, with a uterus or without, and especially in the womb.
- Phthalates: these are “plasticizers” found in plastic grocery bags, nail polish, PVCs, that new car smell, vinyl foams used in floor tiles, food conveyor belts, and artificial leathers, like those used in purses and shoes. Surgeon General Koop wrote to the American public that these were no big harmful deal and I read all his citations and found many of them not to reflect the internal statistics. I published this in Hormone Deception.
- Methoxychlor was used to protect crops, ornamentals, livestock, and pets against fleas, mosquitoes, cockroaches, and other insects. It was banned based on its acute toxicity, bioaccumulation, and endocrine disruption activity but remains in the environment, food, and water, as many of these chemicals do.
- Bispenol A (BPA): This is used to manufacture some plastics and epoxy resins. It’s everywhere. BPA lines most food cans (including baby formula tins) and leaches into the liquid or food. It is used to form epoxy resins that coat many water pipes. It is the dental white filling alternative to silver mercury. It’s in our world in many other ways such as in digital and electrical equipment, electrical laminates for printed circuit boards, paints and many adhesives. BPA is a synthetic estrogen as well as an anti-progestin. It has been proven to cross into the womb, getting into the fetus where it signals fetal breast cells. The University of Texas School of Public Health found BPA in 63 of 105 samples of canned foods, including canned infant formula and fresh turkey sold in plastic packaging.
- Kepone: is a persistent organic pollutant known as a POP, and is one of the “dirty dozen” POPs. Millions of tons of it were used as pesticides and insecticdies for many years, so even though it is no longer legal it is still woven throughout our land and “foodscape.”
- DDE & DDT: Now illegal but also still bioaccumulated and present in our food, air, and water. When I had breast cancer 21 years ago, I had high levels of this in my blood even though I had eaten organically for years, but a one-month, medically-supervised detox got most of it out of me over the next 1-½ years. (PS. Detox is a new tool of medicine, especially prior to conception as many of these anti-progestins and pro-estrogens store in fat, and egg and sperm are “fatties.”
NEW ANTI-PROGESTIN ON THE BLOCK:
Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory meds. After 10 days of swallowing typical dosages of over-the-counter NSAIDs for pain, an Italian human study showed that normal progesterone production went way down. When progesterone goes down, then ovulation is less successful. The participants on placebo did not have a suppression of ovulation, but those on only 10 days of NSAID use had 75-93% failure of ovulation. YIKES! (European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Congress 2015: Abstract OP0131, presented June 11, 2015.)
Anti-progestins can block healthy fertilization since progesterone supports multiple steps of having a baby; but who knew that pill you popped for a headache could be part of your angst-filled infertility journey?
Here are some sample situations that could benefit from testing and detoxing anti-progestins. Or a trial of progesterone replacement can be initiated to overcome this chemically-induced “progesterone resistance”:
- Want to get pregnant and have a healthy baby
- Been struggling with infertility
- Have chronic neurologic disease
- History of chronic viral infections non-responsive to conventional intervention
- Systemic inflammation (elevated CRP or other markers) and/or obesity that requires anti-inflammatory assistance
- Chronic severe insomnia
- History of severe estrogen dominance syndrome
- History of non-responsive poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
And there you have it.