Progesterone should be balanced with estrogen and visa versa.When there is too much estrogen in the body this is called estrogen dominance.
From: What your doctor may not tell you about Menopause, John R. Lee MD
Progesterone and estrogen oppose each other. This is why high or low of either is always linked to a high or low of the other. You might be sufficient in progesterone in the absolute sense, but if you have very high levels of estrogen, you could still be feeling progesterone deficient.
Progesterone and estrogen sensitize each others receptors. This may paint some strange diagnostic pictures. For instance, if one is extremely low in progesterone but sufficient in estrogen, it will probably seem as if one is low in both. The progesterone doesn’t do its work because it simply isn’t there. The estrogen can’t do its work because there’s not enough progesterone to sensitize its receptors.
Here are a few scenario’s:
- A woman has hot flashes and night sweats. These are symptoms of estrogen deficiency. But it doesn’t mean that there’s not enough estrogen to go ’round. Three things could be happening here:
- Sufficient estrogen, low progestrone. In this case the woman probably has symptoms of both estrogen and progesterone deficiency. Because of the low progesterone, the estrogen can’t do its job and symptoms of estrogen deficiency ensue. The woman probably also has symptoms of low progesterone, like bone loss. Supplementing with progesterone will solve both her problems: it wil sensitize the estrogen receptors and by doing so will allow estrogen to do its job. It will also fix her progesterone deficiency.
- Low estrogen and normal progesterone. Because of several reasons (environmental estrogen, mercury tooth fillings and other estrogen stimulators) this is much much rarer. In this case the woman probably has symptoms of both estrogen and progesterone deficiency. The progesterone can’t do its job because of the low estrogen levels. The estrogen can’t do its job because it’s not there. Supplementation with estrogen is the solution in this case.
- Low estrogen and low progesterone. In this case the woman probably has symptoms of both estrogen and progesterone deficiency. Both estrogen and progesterone should be supplemented.
- A woman has problems with bone loss and other symptoms typical of progesterone deficiency. Either of these three following things could be happening:
- Sufficient estrogen, low progesterone. See similar case above.
- Low estrogen and normal progesterone. See similar case above.
- Low estrogen and low progesterone. See similar case above.
The lesson to learn here is that you can’t really tell which one is deficient by just going on the symptoms. You could do a little probability thinking and go by what’s most likely happening: low progesterone with sufficient estrogen.
Suppose one is deficient in progesterone and sufficient in estrogen. When one starts to supplement progesterone, this will sensitize the estrogen receptors, so estrogen will start to do its work. This might -temporarily- exacerbate symptoms! One might have worse night sweats for a while, until the progesterone levels start to come up and oppose the estrogen. This is why you might want to take a lot of progesterone at the start of supplementation: to get those progesterone levels up quicker.