Q: What is progesterone and why is it important to women’s health?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Progesterone is often referred to as the “hormone of pregnancy.” It is a naturally occurring hormone responsible for preparing the body for pregnancy. Progesterone levels fluctuate each month, increasing during the second half of each menstrual cycle and then decreasing causing menstruation to occur. If pregnancy occurs, progesterone levels rise dramatically. Progesterone levels decrease as a woman ages, decreasing gradually until menopause, when ovarian progesterone production stops. When progesterone levels are low and out of balance in the body, women may experience PMS-like symptoms, such as depression, irritability, cravings for sweets, bloating, headaches and more. While many women have found ways to successfully cope with these changes, a large number of women benefit significantly from progesterone therapy.