Related Topics: Bioidentical Hormones, Features, Menopause

How Progesterone Is Beneficial – Facts, Not Fiction

Women from puberty to post menopause use bioidentical hormones and know the benefits, and here two private GP’s with many years experience give their views.

AnnA Rushton

Comment by Dame Dr Shirley Bond DCmdrSOStj MB BS LRCP MRCS FFARCS

As a private GP who has been prescribing progesterone for over 30 years, Dr Shirley Bond worked with the late Dr John Lee – the pioneer of bioidentical progesterone usage – and has seen the benefits to her patients. So why is it still being dismissed by those who should know better? Here she gives her views on using bioidentical hormones.

Before using natural progesterone I researched it and its physiological effects fully. I am increasingly frustrated by the increase in anti-progesterone literature especially when the view is supported by incorrect statements. The most recent one I have come across is in a book by Dr Marilyn Glenville. While I respect her as a nutritionist, I feel it necessary to say she is not a medical doctor but has a PhD in nutrition which entitles her to use the prefix Dr.

Synthetic progesterone does not exist

There are no such substances as synthetic progesterones – they are progestins/progestogens and are completely different from progesterone which is a naturally occurring hormone. It can be synthesised in a lab from soya or yam and the chemical that results from this is identical in its chemical and molecular structure to the naturally occurring hormone. This is why the body recognises it as the same as the progesterone naturally produced in a woman’s own body.

When progestogens are synthesised in a lab what results is a completely different chemical molecule. This has one or two actions in the body similar to progesterone – but has many that progesterone does not and which can, and do, cause problems.

Progesterone can be taken by mouth, hence the existence of the licensed form known as Utrogestan. A higher dose needs to be given in this way as some is removed by the liver because it is a naturally occurring hormone. When absorbed via the skin it does indeed go directly to the peripheral blood stream but then goes to the liver where some is removed.

Progesterone and breast cancer

There is much evidence that supports the view that oestrogen is the hormone that induces cancerous changes in breast tissue. Interestingly it is also well documented that this effect is increased when the oestrogen is combined with progestogens as in traditional HRT. If oestrogen is combined with progesterone, not progestogens, this cancer producing effect of oestrogen seems to be reduced although there is not so much research on this available as yet.

It is true that most breast cancers with a high number of oestrogen positive receptors also have a high number of progesterone positive receptors. It has been suggested that this could be a natural response of the body to reduce the oestrogen effect.

Regarding these receptors what is so frequently forgotten is that hormone receptors are very specific in the way in which they respond to hormones. They can only react as they are designed to react. The effect of oestrogen on receptors in breast tissue is to increase the multiplication of cells. If this multiplication over reacts in any tissue cancerous cells develop. The effect of progesterone on receptors in breast tissue is to encourage maturation into normal cells not cancerous cells.

Thus if a patient has progesterone positive receptors the use of progesterone is beneficial.

While progesterone may increase blood vessel formation, there is no evidence that this increases cancer cells. If anything it should help the body’s natural response to cancer cells. We form cancerous cells in our body all the time but if our immune system and blood supply to tissues is good, then specific cells destroy these cancerous cells!

The research into progesterone and osteoporosis was done many years ago and the trial was badly designed. A group of women were divided into group A and B. Group A was given progesterone for 18 months followed by placebo for 18 months and the reverse was done to groupB. 18 months isn’t long enough for a significant change in bone density no matter what treatment is used, therefore a positive result could not have been shown.

I have used progesterone for osteoporosis, for myself and my patients, and together with correct supplementation it works.


Hormones are powerful substances and should only be used as a response to specific symptoms or conditions that they will benefit and preferably supervised  by a doctor experienced in that field.

However bioidentical hormones by their very nature must be better and safer than chemical substitutes that mimic the action of natural hormones, but without the same benefits, and to which the body cannot respond normally.

Comment by Dr Tony Coope M.B; Ch.B; D.Obst.R.C.O.G

Dr Tony Coope has over twenty years experience in General Practice, prior to which he spent four years as a hospital doctor, covering the specialities of medicine, surgery, paediatrics, geriatrics and emergency/trauma medicine.

He now works as a private GP with an Integrated Medical approach including the use of nutritional supplements, bio-identical hormones, botanicals and the use of sound and monochromatic light in healing.

Much of what is written about progesterone in the media, including misunderstandings by both doctors and therapists, is a complete distortion of the truth. In the last two decades of practice I have been aware of only one woman who has developed breast cancer while on progesterone, and there were several other factors involved including sporadic use of progesterone cream.  My observation supports the view that progesterone receptors on cancer cells are a good thing, an opportunity to slow down their proliferation and even to help prevent recurrence, – in other words it performs the same the role as tamoxifen but without the side effects.

The fact that the placenta in pregnancy raises progesterone levels by as much as twenty to fifty times the norm tells us something about that hormone’s safety during this very sensitive time in the development of the baby. If it was anything but positive, nature would never be this careless. To spread confusion and alarm in this way about bioidentical hormones is unacceptable when there is so much that is known about their benefits to women in all areas of hormone health.

More information:

The late Dr John Lee used progesterone extensively in his practice and wrote and lectured worldwide on the subject. His books are a good place to start for an authoritative and experienced view of the beneficial effect of bioidentical hormones. His most famous is ‘What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause’ but he wrote others concerning perimenopause and cancer. – references for doctors

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Comments 8
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jr | 2:59 pm, September 3rd, 2015

You’re so welcome AnnA.

What’s more there is a lot of data from substudies in the WHI that never made the news cycles, pointing out certain unique dangers of estrogen alone compared to estrogen/progestin. Granted, it is well accepted that progestins are far inferior to micronized progesterone, but nevertheless, these include

1. A 17% increased risk of atrial fibrillation with estrogen alone vs. E+P. (A prolonged QT interval was also reported.) These arrhythmias can be lethal and increase stroke and sudden cardiac death risk.

2. Estrogen alone increased the risk of peripheral arterial disease, mostly abdominal aortic aneurysm (not seen with E+P).

3. Estrogen alone worsened verbal memory in younger women in WHI, an effect that remained years after cessation of therapy (again, not seen with E+P).

Certain benefits for E+P that were not found for estrogen alone include –

1. reduced risk of colon cancer

2. reduced risk of uterine cancer (not applicable to e-alone in lieu of hysterectomy status).

3. reduced risk of diabetes

4. improvements in pain, physical functioning and overall wellbeing in women who reported hot flashes at baseline (estrogen alone only helped hot flashes but WORSENED other QOL measures, including psychological wellbeing).

This is not an endorsement for progestin, but rather an appraisal of the WHI for showing that unopposed estrogen is physiologically unsound and dangerous for menopausal women.

AnnA Rushton | 5:38 pm, September 1st, 2015

Thank you for sharing that, such positive news is not only interesting but very welcome.

JR | 5:56 am, August 30th, 2015

Progesterone has been unfairly dismissed as some annoying tagalong to estrogen, as though its only job is to protect the uterus. Recent research announced last month demonstrated that progesterone added to tamoxifen was more beneficial in halting breast cancer cell growth than tamoxifen alone. Also, a recent clinical trial from NIH in newly menopausal women compared progesterone, estradiol and placebo. While both hormones activated certain areas in the brain, only progesterone showed measurable benefits for verbal memory and visuospatial abilities. (No effect was seen for estradiol.) While 2 recent massive clinical trials were reported showing no clinical benefit of progesterone infusions in traumatic brain injury patients, what wasn’t reported was that women in the trial (who made up only 8% of the study population) had a 21% improvement in outcomes – both functional and mortality-related.

Gwen Smith | 12:35 am, May 11th, 2014

In my 40’s I began breaking a rib every month and a half or so. So I was one of the first women ever put on Fosamax. It burned my Esophagus, so I had to go off of it, thankfully! I read Dr. John Lee’s book, What your doctor may not tell you about Menopause”! Found out how he had been treating his Post Menopausal women with Bio-Identical Hormones. So I was so fortunate to find a doctor in Palm Desert, CA. who believed in this Protocol for treating Osteoporosis. I have been on Progesterone Cream, 10% twice a day, Testosterone Cream 1% at night, and 5, 000, iu’s of Vitamin D 3 for almost 20 years now. I am almost 74 years old, and have not broken a bone since I was 42. I Do a 2 mile work out with weights, followed by a two mile walk, followed by 3 line dance classes a week, and 18 holes of golf 3 times a week. Have a perfect Lipid panel, and feel 40. So I am a big believer in Bio-Identical Hormone replacement. NO Estrogen in this Protocol.

AnnA Rushton | 12:27 pm, March 11th, 2014

Sadly Theresa we have to agree with you as neither the media nor many doctors can distinguish between the two. We have even seen progesterone described as ‘a form of progestin’ so we can only keep trying to spread the word and thank you for your support on this.

Dr. Theresa Ramsey | 4:28 pm, March 10th, 2014

This article should be leading news for the consumer but it isn’t – why – because it isn’t fear based sensationalism. So many doctors – especially GYN’s in my area – think of progesterone and progestin as the same thing! If GYN’s don’t know this who does? Those of us who study the research. Thank you for this article. It is timeless.

AnnA Rushton | 10:37 am, March 9th, 2014

Dr Bond does not entirely agree with your comment Sheila. She has said hormone testing might be useful but if not interpreted by practitioner qualified in this field as they can be misleading or self diagnosing without sufficient knowledge. There is no evidence that progesterone congests the liver. It’s a bio identical hormone and produced in very high amounts in pregnancy over a period of months without any such effect.

Sheila | 8:40 am, March 8th, 2014

I would suggest hormone levels are measured before taking progesterone or any HRT, I have also noticed that creams although initially proved good effect, appear to congest the liver….only my observation

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