Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RNmenopause, there’s a good chance you’re not sleeping as well as you used to.
In fact, sleep disturbances may affect 38% of women after “the change.”1
At least part of it has to do with your hormones, in particular, progesterone.
As women age, they tend to produce less, with the sharpest declines seen right after menopause.
This could produce a host of problems like insomnia, for example.
But don’t despair. If a hormone imbalance is indeed causing your problem, then taking progesterone may be very helpful.
Progesterone Calms your Brain and Restores SleepProgesterone has a calming effect on the brain. It modulates GABA receptors2 which induce sleep and relaxation. Many sleeping pills work by modulating these receptors, but progesterone doesn’t come with their undesirable side effects.
To evaluate the effect of progesterone on sleep, scientists enrolled 10 post-menopausal women in a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study.3 These women were healthy and didn’t have sleep problems.
For 21 days, half of the women took 300 mg of micronized progesterone pills while the other group received a placebo.
After a two-week washout period, the groups switched treatments. Each woman was hooked to a machine which recorded her sleeping patterns. They also filled out questionnaires which evaluated their sleep quality.
The results were significant. The women taking progesterone slept better and they didn’t have cognitive problems in the morning, which is a typical side effect of sleeping pills.
They also spent less time awake and had increased REM sleep, which is restorative and essential to well-being. More importantly, though, the progesterone was very well-tolerated and no side effects were reported.
Other studies have shown similar results, with women experiencing deeper more restorative sleep while taking progesterone.4
Bio-identical Progesterone is SafeMany women are concerned about taking progesterone and hormones in general.
Their fears generally stem from the Women’s Health Initiative, a landmark study that showed the dangers of conventional hormones, including an increased risk for cancer5 and other health problems.
The study produced negative results because the researchers used conventional hormones, which don’t look or act exactly like the hormones produced by the human body.
In contrast, bio-identical hormones look and act just like your own. In fact, research has shown that they are safe and may even decrease the risk of cancer.6 This is the type of hormone we suggest you consider.
Test Your Progesterone Levels Before Taking ItBefore you begin taking progesterone, it’s important that you test your blood levels. That way your doctor can prescribe an appropriate dose and monitor your response to therapy.
Also, be careful about the form of progesterone you use. Ask your doctor for progesterone cream rather than pills. The creams absorb directly into your bloodstream and bypass the liver’s modifying effects. For this reason, they are a safer bet.
What You Need to KnowHormone imbalances are an often-overlooked cause of sleeping problems. For this reason, if you’re having trouble sleeping, you may want to discuss progesterone therapy with your doctor.
Remember, it’s safe, well-tolerated, and highly effective.
Do you have any experience with progesterone therapy? If so, please share your comments below!
- Menopause. 2003 Jan-Feb;10(1):19-28.
- Physiol Behav. 2009 Apr 20;97(1):58-61. Epub 2009 Feb 7.
- Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2008 Sep;33(8):1124-31. Epub 2008 Aug 3.
- J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Apr;96(4):E614-23. Epub 2011 Feb 2.
- JAMA. 2002 Jul 17;288(3):321-33.
- Postgrad Med. 2009;121(1):73-85.
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