Is Progesterone Treatment An Alternative to Estrogen Based HRT?

As the debate surrounding the health risks associated with HRT continues, is progesterone treatment an alternative to estrogen based HRT? This article looks at this issue and explains the various aspects surround the problem.

Health Risks

The health risks that concern menopausal women have to do with estrogen based HRT. Over the last 10 years, estrogen based HRT has been linked with possible increased risk factors for stroke and cancer.

As a result, many menopausal women and their physicians decided that the risks outgrew the benefits derived, in terms of reduced menopause symptoms. They stopped using estrogen based HRT, to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes, mood swings and insomnia, even though it was effective in reducing these symptoms.

Is it possible that progesterone based HRT can provide relief from menopause symptoms, as an effective alternative?

A new study has shown that a progesterone treatment may reduce hot flashes, night sweats, and may even lengthen your night sleep.

Here is an excerpt from MSNBC who reported on the study

"Progesterone capsules might offer an alternative therapy to women who don’t want to be on an estrogen-based treatment, said the lead author of the study, Christine Hitchcock.

There are certainly some people for whom estrogen is not an appropriate therapy and other people who wish to avoid it for other reasons.

And progesterone offers a choice,” Hitchcock, a researcher at the University of British Columbia, told Reuters Health."

The complete story

The study’s abstract was published in Menopause Journal, March 2012. Here is the conclusion by the author, Christine Hitchcock

"Conclusions: Oral micronized progesterone is effective for treatment of hot flushes and night sweats in healthy women early in postmenopause."

The full abstract of the study

Progesterone has been used to restore normal menstrual periods, for quite some time. It helps to protect the uterus from abnormal thickening and is given for abnormal menstrual bleeding symptoms.

It is a type of female hormone (progestin), that your body makes naturally, and can be given to supplement the sharp decrease of its production during menopause to reduce menopause symptoms.

Although, progesterone have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may be safe for most women, I will caution its use for some menopausal women due to potential side effects.

Side Effects and Symptoms

It has been reported that it can cause stomach upset, changes in appetite, weight gain, fluid retention and swelling, fatigue, acne, drowsiness or insomnia, allergic skin rashes, hives, fever, headache, depression, breast discomfort or enlargement, PMS-like syndrome, altered menstrual cycles, irregular bleeding, and other side effects.

Given the potential side effects, is progesterone treatment an alternative to estrogen based HRT?

Based on the information available at this time, I think that progesterone treatment is an option for some menopausal women who suffer with frequent and severe menopause symptoms. If hot flashes and night sweats keep you awake throughout the night, it can help to improve your quality of life.

There is no evidence at this time that suggests that it poses the health risks that are associated with estrogen based HRT.