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~Seek first to understand, then be understood~
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I have a "friend" who shows up once a month. She turns my world upside down, over and over again.
I am a good person, caring and sweet, but when she comes to visit, I could rip off your head.
She takes no prisoners, foul words she does spout, I try to keep the words in, she lets them come out.
People don't understand me, or what this is about, to have this creature inside my head.
I despise who I am, half of the time, I feel sorry for my daughter, family and friends.
There's no way to describe it, for those who don't know, it's a living nightmare, she really needs to go.
~Neysia Manor, Rest in Peace

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's Special About Progesterone

Getting a late start today. It’s the last week before school starts and all is in chaos :). Today I want to write more about progesterone, since the subject came up. Again, I want to say there I nothing wrong with taking natural progesterone if your progesterone levels are low, but how are you going to know they are low without a blood serum test of your levels, taken during at least two different points in your cycle? Hormone saliva tests are notoriously inaccurate, and if you look closely, you’ll notice most companies that produce these saliva tests also conveniently produce product formulations that you can take to boost whatever their tests determine you are lacking in.

Some other day I will tell you about my experience with saliva hormone testing. Today I want to focus on progesterone and what it does for you.

Actually, it’s a good thing. Progesterone in and of itself is wonderful, and has a wonderful purpose. You know that it rises during the second half of your cycle, starting to rise just before ovulation. And as it does, it settles your mood and slows down your digestive system. That’s right. Just like progesterone smoothes out your mood, it smoothes out the muscles in your digestive tract to allow your body more time to process what you have eaten, and grab every morsel of nutrition it can from the food you eat before sending the waste on its way.

This is a big part of what causes that full, bloated feeling you get the last half of your cycle, and this is what often causes constipation during the same time frame.

Why? Because your body, in all it’s miraculous wisdom, is preparing to sustain a child. Your body doesn’t know (or care) whether you’re trying to get pregnant or not, so every month during your reproductive years it faithfully prepares to sustain a fertilized egg, whether you need it to or not. Slowing down your digestive system is just one way your body has of making sure that baby gets every ounce of nutrition it can get so that it will thrive in your womb.

When no egg is fertilized, the level of progesterone in your body drops, and this causes the buildup of tissue in your uterus to slough off because it isn’t needed, and pass out of your body via the blood you shed during your period.

Unfortunately, it also causes your mood to plummet.

But progesterone has a definite purpose. A purpose that drives women mad on the months when we are not hoping to conceive, because it makes us puff up and think we are fat. But all of that is just our body trying to hold on to the nutrients we have ingested…just in case.

Another time progesterone surges is during the first trimester of pregnancy, and that’s for the same reason. So that the baby growing inside you has the best chance your body can give it of getting all the nutrition it needs to survive.

Now, about those mood swings. During the last two weeks of your cycle, progesterone also causes your brain to at first become more relaxed and sedated, all warm and fuzzy, then gradually (and sometimes not so gradually), as the level of progesterone drops, more irritable, less focused, and a little slower. This is part of why you’re more sensitive to stress in the second half of your cycle.

Then, when no egg is fertilized and the level of progesterone in your system abruptly drops, this leaves your brain feeling somewhat shell-shocked. This is when you start snapping and screaming at your loved ones. Because your brain is feeling the effects of progesterone withdrawal, just like any addict goes through withdrawal when the source of their feel-good drug of choice is no longer available.

Our reactions to this loss of progesterone include feeling aggressive, negative, hostile, and/or even hopeless and depressed. This is when we weep at the drop of a hat, weep uncontrollably, become really obnoxious and confrontational, have panic attacks, and/or contemplate suicide.

Just like an addict.

So when we need it, progesterone is a very good thing.

When we don’t, it causes trouble.

What happens when we get too much?

Please read my previous post.

In closing, please try to be patient with yourself and understand that you really are not in control of this miraculous, yet incredibly frustrating (given our modern lifestyle) cycle that takes place inside your body each month, other than to provide your body with the best possible work and living environment and nutrition that you can--so that your body can do its job the way nature intended for it to do.

1 comment:

  1. Hi I just want to say progesterone does not always smooth out moods, for some women it is a big factor in that going mad feeling. Women can be affected badly by progesterone, even suicidal, whereas for others it can be a saviour. I also want to say well done for all the work you do for women with PMDD. Thank you for reading this.