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Progesterone Balance {Women’s Hormones}

Progesterone Balance {Women’s Hormones}

A women’s cycle is like a dance – so many moving parts and it’s all gotta tango together (ideally in a really beautiful way!) I’m talking about some fun progesterone this week! And what better way to kickoff progesterone week than an understanding of when progesterone becomes the star of the show

The first day of our cycle starts on day 1 of bleeding! Estrogen rises in the first half, which kicks our ovulation into gear (usually in the middle of our cycle).  This is because our body is ready for that baby (trying or not, yo’ body is trying to check-in and see if you’re wanting to reproduce this month). After we ovulate, that’s when progesterone levels want to take it to the next level and become the star! THIS is when you’ll want to test hormones, so you can catch your progesterone levels. The dried urine hormone test we do is recommended to be taken around this time! After ovulation, estrogen takes a little dip, but then increases slightly toward the end of your cycle and it’s a REPEAT!

Now, a lot of things can happen in our cycle that can mess thangs up and there are nutrients that are needed for healthy progesterone.

Now, let’s dive into what are some of the building blocks of progesterone.

Let me preface that if you struggle with any nutrient deficiencies, your hormones might feel it.  Optimizing nutrient stores are insanely vital, which is why we do micronutrient testing in our practice – it helps us look inside the cell to see what your nutrient levels are (serum levels aren’t as accurate and fluctuate pretty often) nutrients in-depth:

  • B6 is a vital nutrient to the development of the corpus luteum (which is where progesterone is made)
  • Magnesium helps make your steroid hormones, like progesterone
  • Zinc helps increase FSH, which leads to ovulation, which leads to that progesterone being made (look at the last progesterone post to understand the flow of our cycle!)
  • Vitamin C in studies has helped increase progesterone (I’ll talk more on this one later this week!)
  •  Cholesterol is the backbone to our hormones. Having low cholesterol can affect hormone levels – cholesterol is SO important, even with all the negative press about it in the past! 

Supplementation can be helpful, but if you don’t want to guess around any longer, get your levels tested + see the dosage that would be good for you! 🤩 

Okay, let’s dial in how stress (high cortisol) affects progesterone levels. To keep it simple, when our body feels “danger” and “fight or flight” do you think your body is going to think it’s a good time to reproduce? Most likely not. It’ll wait until it’s “safe”. Ever have a really stressed out month and then you’ll notice that your cycle is late? I’m preaching on my stress box again because I truly think that we don’t give stress the light it deserves in how it affects our body in so many ways.

On a scientific level, those high cortisol levels increase an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase takes your testosterone and shifts it to make more estrogen – leaving you with more estrogen than you need. High estrogen will suppress a hormone GNRH – which is needed to release FSH and LH, which jumpstarts your ovulation (and when you ovulate, progesterone comes out to play!).

The results from this can be decreased fertility, irregular cycles, estrogen dominance, you name it. This is why when we work with clients we also tune into your stress levels. Supplementation can help. Lifestyle changes can help. Reducing internal stressors, like in our gut for example, can help. But, we have to give it the attention it deserves.

Now that we established the relationship of cortisol on progesterone, did you know that low progesterone can leave you feeling anxious? Even further as you metabolize progesterone, are you favoring the beta pathway or the alpha pathway? This is why I cannot stress the dried urine hormone test enough. This is how we can put the pieces together and see hormone metabolites, not just hormone levels itself. 

The alpha pathway is preferred because it promotes GABA, which is a neurotransmitter that gives you restful sleep, relaxation, and lessens anxiety. It turns into allopregnanolone, which can cross the blood-brain barrier, and react with GABA receptors. The beta-pathway is the most abundant pathway of progesterone. Can you see why healthy progesterone levels are a must for feeling good?!

Last thing…. let’s end this chat about cholesterol because I mentioned earlier this week how much cholesterol is BACKBONE to your sex hormones. While our society is OBSESSED with lowering cholesterol, if you lower it too much, your hormones are going out of whack!

Eating healthy fats and a variety of them is important and a good way to support cholesterol, but honestly ONLY 20% of your cholesterol is influenced by diet. The rest of the 80% is what your liver will make. When someone comes to us with low cholesterol, we change some dietary things like introducing healthy fats in order to make sure you’re not overdoing it.

Especially on things that lower cholesterol like excessive fiber, we focus in on that sweet organ of yours(your liver!) Your liver is what’s going to create cholesterol, clear cholesterol, and give you those beautiful healthy levels of it! Below I have illustrated ways to increase cholesterol. Quality is everything!! For example, we order our fresh sustainably caught Atlantic salmon from Butcher Box.

Liver support isn’t just throwing supplements and herbs, like milk thistle or glutathione, your way. It will probably be a part of your protocol, but we like to go through diet and lifestyle on why your liver might not be functioning optimally, to begin with. It’s very individualized on why you’re struggling with low cholesterol.

Our team is ready for you! We’ll hold your hand through the process of changing your diet + lifestyle. Reach out to us and let’s get started with proper testing and narrowing down the root cause.

Lahana Vigliano, CCN

Lahana Vigliano
lahana@thrivalnutrition.com

Lahana Vigliano is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and CEO of Thrival Nutrition. She has her Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition Science and currently pursing her Masters Degree in Nutrition Science and Functional Medicine. Lahana and her team help support women who struggle with weight loss, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and many other lingering issues that leaves women not feeling their best. She uses food as medicine, as well as herbs and supplements when needed, to support her clients. She looks at the whole body holistically making sure women are understanding how nutrition, sleep, stress, and their environment impact their health. Connect with her on Facebook + Instagram (@thrivalnutrition).