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Are Hormones Making you Fat?

Are Hormones Making you Fat?
by Teya Skae

Strike a Balance with Progesterone

There exists a large group of people women and even men ranging from late 20’s to 50’s who find it most difficult to lose weight because they are hormonally ‘stressed’. What does hormonally stressed mean? Simply a by product of living in our typical 21st century western society where the overuse of chemicals in foods, household products, pesticides, added hormones in chickens and antibiotics in meats (unless it is organic/free range) creates biochemical stress.

If you have been overtraining, feeling stressed, regularly consuming protein sources that are laden with hormones, growth hormones and antibiotics (eggs, chicken, meat poultry) then you might be a candidate for Estrogen Dominance.

What is Estrogen Dominance?

A condition that occurs when there is not enough progesterone (foundational hormone in all vertebrates) due to too much stress on the organics, consumption of chemicals and adrenal exhaustion (which at least 85% of the population suffers at some stage). All of these give rise to higher levels of estrogen in relation to progesterone. Even men due to depletion of testosterone, from overtraining, and consumption of commercial chemically laden chickens can start to develop weight gain in the middle due to excess estrogen in relation to their foundational hormones testosterone and progesterone.

What is the safest way to balance estrogen dominance?

With its counter hormones progesterone balance of course, just as Dr Lee described in his book ‘Natural Progesterone: The Multiple Roles of a Remarkable Hormone’. Simply by withdrawing estrogen and replacing it with more progesterone, hormonal balance takes place much more naturally over weeks and months, especially if the use of hormone laden meats and chickens are withdrawn from the typical western daily diet.

What is Estrogen?

A steroidal hormone produced in both males and females. It stimulates the development of secondary sexual characteristics and induces menstruation in women. Estrogen is important for the maintenance of normal brain function and development of nerve cells.

If the balance between estrogen and progesterone gets disrupted in any way, estrogen dominance then results, creating a number of common symptoms that get overlooked as hormonal imbalance between the two hormones, estrogen and progesterone.

What are some typical symptoms of estrogen dominance?

Water retention and bloating
Weight gain
Cellulite in women
Abdominal fat in men even stretch marks
Loss of energy
Decreases libido
Inability to lose weight no matter what
Higher % of fat storage and more

Where does progesterone fit in?

When estrogen becomes the dominant hormone it can potentially become toxic to the body; and the need for progesterone to balance it is increased. Therefore progesterone has a balancing or mitigating effect on estrogen.

So What is Progesterone?

It is essential for life to all vertebrates: fishes, reptiles, birds and mammals - including humans. It has countless functions in both males and females of all ages - regulating blood sugar, developing intelligence, building bones, brain activity and much more. Our bodies make it all the time.

Progesterone is a steroid hormone made by both men and women. In women, it is made in the corpus luteum of the ovary and in smaller amounts by the adrenal glands. In men, it is produced in adrenal and testicular tissue. Progesterone receptors are present in men, women and children of all ages; therefore progesterone is a fundamental hormone.

Why is this important?

The Johns Hopkins University conducted a 20 year study, published in 1983 in the American Journal of Epidemiology, showing that women who had good progesterone levels had less than a fifth of the amount of breast cancer, and less than a tenth of all the cancers that occurred in women who were low in progesterone. These outcomes suggest that having a normal level of progesterone protected women from nine-tenths of all cancers that might otherwise have occurred.

Progesterone is made in our body from cholesterol and is the essential raw material from which our body makes many of the other steroid hormones, including cortisol and testosterone.

Progesterone is converted by the adrenal glands into other hormones such as cortisone, estrogen, testosterone and others. It is involved in reproduction, but not being exclusively a sex hormone it does not impart any secondary sexual characteristics.

Getting progesterone back into your body

Natural progesterone or bio-identical progesterone is routinely used in fertility clinics around the globe to help sustain pregnancy in high-risk situations. Please note bio-identical progesterone is not the Wild Yam creams that are touted as progesterone replacement.

How did bio-identical progesterone cream come about?

In 1943 Russell Marker made progesterone cream from the plant steroid diosgenin. He used the Mexican wild yam (dioscorea villosa) as a source plant. However, diosgenin has now been found in many other plants, including the spice fenugreek and the soya bean.

There is much confusion in the minds of both the public and the professions between progesterone on the one hand, and the progestins or progestogens and "yam extracts" on the other.

Progesterone is a natural hormone made by the body and which is now being made from the plant extract diosgenin. Progestogen, on the other hand, is a synthetic hormone (with a molecular structure that differs from that of progesterone) used by the drug companies in oral contraceptives and HRT in preference (for commercial reasons) to the natural hormone. The contra-indications, precautions, and adverse reactions of these synthetics make horrifying reading.

Many people confuse natural bio-identical progesterone with "yam extracts" and "yam creams", which do not contain progesterone. The yam creams can have a beneficial adaptogenic effect on the body but, unlike progesterone, they cannot correct hormonal imbalances such as excessive levels of estrogen or estrogen dominance.

A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (June 1999, pages 1504–1511) states that "In order to obtain the proper (effective) serum levels with use of a progesterone cream, the cream needs to have an adequate amount of progesterone in it [at least 30 milligrams per gram]. Many over the counter creams in US have little [for example, 5 milligrams per ounce] or none at all. In addition, the creams that are made from Mexican yams are not metabolized to progesterone by women."

If natural progesterone has so many benefits, why don't physicians routinely prescribe it?

Progesterone cream is currently being used by thousands of women in the western world to ensure they maintain progesterone balance. The speed with which the cream relieves symptoms varies depending upon both the health problem itself and the quality of the cream being used. Some women find relief within five days, in others it can take three months even longer, while the reversal of osteoporosis can take six months.

In summary, estrogen dominance is becoming much more common in our western society because of the use of chemicals, pesticides added to our foods, and hormones given to our livestock and the use of plastics. There exists a very simple test (contact Teya at Health Dimensions) without the need for blood/urine/saliva samples that can help you identify if you are estrogen dominant and to what extent. It just might just shed some more light on your current weight loss struggle especially if you have been over-training and struggling to lose weight and or gain lean muscle tissue.

In Wellness
Teya Skae
Nutritionist/Kinesiologist/Health Coach

M.A., B.A., Dip Health Science,
Dip Clinical Nutrition.


Lee, John R., M.D., Natural Progesterone: The Multiple Roles of a Remarkable Hormone (1995) (BLL Publishing, Sebastopol, CA, U.S.A.)
Martin, Raquel with Judi Gerstung, D.C., The Estrogen Alternative (1997) (Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont, USA)
Neil, Kate and Patrick Holford, Balancing Hormones Naturally (1998) (Judy Piatkus Ltd, London)
Owen, N, Nicola - The case that made legal history (1992) (Bantam Press)
Rushton, Anna and Dr. Shirley A. Bond, Natural Progesterone(1999) (Thorsons)

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