Progesterone and Menopausal Symptoms

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Research Summary

A number of hormonal changes occur as women enter menopause. The transition is characterized by erratic, but on average, higher than premenopausal estrogen levels, while progesterone levels steadily decline as the number of menstrual cycles without ovulation increases, and remain extremely low thereafter.

Few researchers have studied the relationship between longitudinal changes in hormones and menopausal symptoms, although a recent study (see Randolph 2005) looked at levels of reproductive hormones and found only serum FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) was associated with the frequency of hot flashes and night sweats. Unfortunately the authors did not look at progesterone levels. Menopausal symptoms are therefore not simply a sign of estrogen deficiency.

Progestins or progesterone have long been a component of postmenopausal hormone therapy, because they have been given to protect the uterus from the proliferative effects of estrogen that may otherwise lead to uterine cancer. There is a great need for more studies of progesterone alone, without estrogen, in women with menopausal symptoms, since those that have been done have shown significant relief.

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