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Progesterone, Progestin, Progestogen...

Progestogens are a class of hormones including progesterone, the progestogen which naturally occurs in the body, and progestins, which are synthetic progestogens. The synthetics do not function in the same way as the natural hormone; some effects are the same; others differ — and may even be completely opposite the effects of the natural hormone. Katharina Dalton's book The Premenstrual Syndrome and Progesterone Therapy cites the differences in some detail. (Note: this book is not the same as her popular Once a Month; The Original Premenstrual Syndrome Handbook, which does not have the useful technical detail.)

Unfortunately many people use the term "progesterone" to mean "progestogen," thus confusing the issue of the differences in effect between the natural substance and the synthetics. A "bio-identical" progesterone is however chemically the same as that produced in the human body, even though it's made in a lab.

Pharmaceutical products are all synthetics. Information on the remainder of this page applies only to natural (and bio-identical) progesterone.

Functions / Effects


  • You can find many over-the-counter creams containing low levels of natural progesterone, which may be enough for many women. Be aware of your tolerance for any herbs or other ingredients in them, however.
  • Compounding pharmacies are the place to go for higher doses, which will require a doctor's prescription. To find a doctor who familiar with natural progesterone...

My Experience

  • I have been taking high doses of progesterone since 1995. It's biggest help I have in relieving many of my most debilitating symptoms. See...
  • One of my doctors hypothesizes I may have burned-out adrenals from various other stresses, but taking high doses of progesterone enables them to keep responding.

For More Information

Watch out: a lot of published information confuses progesterone and progestins. If the source does not specifically say it's about natural or bio-identical progesterone, or fails to carefully distinguish between the effects of natural progesterone and the synthetic progestins, or lumps them together in talking about their effects.... I don't believe it.

John R. Lee, MD, who died in 2003, was a Ralph Nader-like crusader for natural progesterone. His site (and his books, listed on the site) remains worth studying. For starters I recommend Effects of Estrogen and Progesterone.

Large-scale, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials provide the best opportunity to study the effectiveness of forms of treatment. Such tests have not been made on the use of natural progesterone against osteoporosis. This is because natural progesterone can't be patented, and the pharmaceutical companies who fund such studies have no stake in natural progesterone.

Lee however did what he could, with small-scale clinical studies. See Osteoporosis Reversal; The Role of Progesterone, by John R. Lee, MD. From Published in International Clinical Nutrition Review, July, 1990, Vol. 10 No. 3. Enough clinicians have followed his lead that today it's not hard to find a practitioner who prescribes natural progesterone.

Other sites:

See also my pages

last updated 28 October 2007