There are currently very few published studies on the role of progesterone, but this hormone certainly influences changes in premenopausal women. Scientists now believe that too little progesterone can be as damaging to bone strength as low estrogen levels.
Let's look at what is already known about this ovarian steroid and what menopausal women need to be aware of to avoid the consequences of too little progesterone and estrogen.
Perimenopause and Too Little Progesterone
Perimenopause is a period of up to 15 years prior to actual menopause when hormonal changes are taking place in the woman's body. Research into menopausal side effects have focused in the past on the changes in estrogen levels, but scientists are now realizing that too little progesterone can also have long-lasting effects on bone health and the increased risk of osteoporosis.
Perimenopause is marked by initial changes in hormone levels and is often hard to actually diagnose. Initially estrogen levels rise during this early stage of pre-menopause, although they later drop significantly. But let's consider what is happening to its partner hormone, progesterone, during this time.
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Progesterone Partners with Estrogen for Bone Health
Progesterone collaborates with estrogen and is understood to play an active role in bone metabolism during and post menopause, helping to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. While estrogen is known to inhibit calcium loss from existing bone and facilitates calcium absorption from the intestine, by balancing progesterone levels any hormone therapy can be even more effective.
Evidence from several controlled trials shows that progesterone therapy can help prevent fractures in postmenopausal women, as part of an antiresorptive therapy. Progesterone appears to stimulate new bone by attaching itself to the osteoblast cell receptors which are responsible for new bone tissue to be formed. Too little progesterone can have the same negative effect on bone density as too little estrogen.
As always, no single part of the body works alone for the best of health. Estrogen working synergistically with progesterone appears to be essential for strong healthy bones in post-menopausal women. With this in mind, the only way to counter the hormonal effects on bones is by keeping hormones balanced, maintaining healthy levels of both estrogen and progesterone to avoid estrogen dominance and too little progesterone causing weak bone structure during and post menopause.