It is often forgotten that progesterone is a hormone produced by both women and men. Men produce it in both their adrenals and testes and progesterone levels in men remain fairly constant until they reach their sixties or even seventies. At this time of life there are other hormone changes in a man in addition to the drop in progesterone levels. Testosterone levels drop and change from a preponderance of testosterone to one of di-hydrotestosterone. The levels of oestrogens also rise and although it is not clear whether these hormonal changes are independent of one another, or if perhaps the drop in progesterone precipitates the fall in testosterone, what is clear is that adequate progesterone production is essential for men’s health and wellbeing.
While it is well recognized that men frequently experience a decrease in sexual activity as they age, it is not clear whether this is due to ageing, a decline in general fitnss, change in hormone levels or a combination of these factors. Hormonal changes do not occur in all men, but when they do they are generally related to a rise in their oestrogen levels. This accounts for the ‘man breasts’ and feminizing effects observed in men where they may also need to shave less often.
The levels of both progesterone and testosterone drop, and when testosterone levels fall there is often a corresponding rise in di-hydro-testosterone. This is another form of testosterone and seems to have more aggressive effects than testosterone and possibly may be the cause of prostatic cancer.
The drop in progesterone levels is important. We know that progesterone has a protective effect against the stimulating effect of oestrogen in women. It has the same protective effect in men against the stimulating effects of testosterone and di-hydrotestosterone.
It works in men in two ways: first by acting directly upon progesterone receptors which are present in almost every tissue of the body, and secondly by competing for receptors with testosterone.
Although very little research has been done into the effects and role of progesterone in men, it is clear that a whole range of health problems can be addressed using this hormone. It should not be forgotten that men are also exposed to the pollutant xenoestrogens in the environment and these too can have oestrogen-like effects on men as well as on women. This oestrogen dominance due to pollution is also probably the cause of some of the low sperm counts that are not infrequently seen in otherwise fit and healthy men.
The use of supplemental bioidentical natural progesterone in men is based partly on a knowledge of physiology – that is the way in which tissues are supposed to function in the body – and experience gained from observing the effect of supplementation on male patients.
It may well be that future work will show that natural progesterone is as vital a hormone for men as it is for women.