Hormones are a difficult subject to grasp since people often don’t have a proper understanding what hormonal health is or how it is achieved. This is true even for most athletes who could experience significant performance benefits from optimizing their hormones, yet few aim to do it.
Most people know that testosterone is the primary male hormone, and estrogen is the primary female hormone. However, it is not as easy as that. Men also have estrogen, albeit lower levels than women, and women have testosterone in smaller amounts than men.
Particularly in men, the ratio of testosterone to estrogen is critical. You can have all the testosterone in the world but if your estrogen is also maxed out, it will not provide any additional benefits than regular levels, but it would provide plenty of side effects.
Men are almost always under the misconception that they should want just more and more testosterone, and completely neglect the other hormones that are involved as well as hormones that work in tandem with testosterone such as, progesterone.
Progesterone is a little-known hormone amongst men, and for the ones who do know about it, it is often considered a female hormone since it is used in HRT (hormone replacement therapy) for women. However, both men and women are born with the same amounts of progesterone, and the levels stay the same until puberty when women’s progesterone levels usually double to balance all the extra estrogen they possess compared to us men.
The reality is that in men, progesterone is not a feminizing hormone at all, and it is one of the most misunderstood hormones when it comes to male health. One hint to this is that the structure of progesterone greatly resemble that of testosterone and progesterone can activate testosterone receptors in the male body.
Why would men want to keep their progesterone levels in optimal range?
It is simple really, not only because progesterone comes with a myriad of its benefits, but also since progesterone antagonises estrogen and keeps it in check. Estrogen is the feminizing hormone that we men need in small amounts to maintain bone health and sex drive; however, an excess of estrogen is devastating for men and leads to low testosterone levels, inflammation, hair loss, reduced libido and in worst cases, BPH (benign prostate hyperplasia) and even prostate cancer.
Progesterone can also be used to protect you against estrogenic side effects during steroid cycles as well as help during post cycle therapy, preventing rebound estrogenic side effects.
Now that you got an idea of what progesterone is all about and we have established that supplementing with a progesterone cream can be beneficial for men let’s take a closer look at the hormone and all its other benefits.
The Benefits of Progesterone for Men
The easiest way to think about Progesterone is to see it has a master hormone which influences the balance of the many other hormones in the male body such as DHT, estrogen, cortisol and testosterone. Hormones are complicated and do not always follow the traditional medical thinking of if you have one symptom you take a pill for it, and the problem is solved.
You have to think of hormones as a scale with weights that are always changing. The best approach is to learn how you feel during different hormonal responses and adjust lifestyle and dietary choices accordingly.
Other than progesterones influence on other androgens, it also comes with many benefits of its own. Many of them closely resemble those of testosterone. Here is what Progesterone can do for you as a man:
- Enhance your libido
- Increased Energy
- Improve your mood
- Helps you maintain a healthy weight
- Builds stronger bones
- Harder erections
Progesterone and Estrogen
The majority of guys who find themselves with less than optimal progesterone levels usually struggle with another major health concern that is becoming increasingly more common in modern times, estrogen dominance.
As men age, testosterone and progesterone levels naturally decrease, making you more sensitive to fluctuations and also making it easier for you to end up in a state of excess estrogen. However, there are also other causes which can trigger issues with estrogen no matter what your age is, such as xenoestrogens and stress.
Xenoestrogens are today found everywhere and in close to everything. The majority of plastics contain substances that can act as estrogen mimics, in the sense that they can imitate the hormone estrogen in the body and activate the same receptors. This is why you today see so much negative talk about BPA and other plastic additives in health publications. You should never heat your food in plastic containers or drink hot drinks from plastic cups; this is just begging for trouble as heat releases the xenoetrogens into what you are consuming.
However, that is not the only type of xenestrogens to be found. Industrial farmed meat products also contain artificial estrogens and growth hormones that enable the animals to grow faster as well as keeps the cows producing milk year around. This is very much an unnatural process which is only done for revenue gains for the producers and jeopardizing your health and performance in return.
In these ways, these chemicals find their way into our everyday meals, which is why it is particularly important to buy organic and grass-fed animals products. Pesticides can also have estrogenic effects, as well as unfiltered tap water, often contain trace amounts of birth control pills, which can still have an effect on the male endocrine system.
It is becoming seemingly harder and harder for men to protect themselves and this is why today men have 15-50% less testosterone than they had just a mere 50 years ago. Our modern lifestyles are feminizing men and are responsible for the ever increasing deaths caused by diseases related to hormones such as prostate cancer.
Another cause of estrogen dominance is stress. Prolonged or chronic stress overproduce and deplete out stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is produced from progesterone and overproduction leaves little progesterone left to protect our hormonal balance. Chronic stress will eventually guarantee problems with estrogen levels in men, so all ways and treatments for reducing stress can also be seen as beneficial for our hormonal balance, especially when it comes to progesterone, estrogen and testosterone.
The following are some standard reference ranges for saliva hormone testing:
Estradiol: 0.5 – 2.2 pg/ml
Progesterone: 15 – 100 pg/ml
Testosterone: 44 – 148 pg/ml
Progesterone and Steroids:
Since progesterone is an effective modulator of the hormones that are often problematic with the use of anabolic steroids, a progesterone cream can be an effective aid on cycle or during post cycle therapy.
When it comes to steroids or testosterone injections that cause unnaturally high testosterone levels for prolonged periods of time, conversion of testosterone into estrogen is unavoidable. This is why aromatase inhibitors such as Arimidex are often used during cycles. Aromatase inhibitors can also come with a whole host of side effects, so in the end, your trading side effects for side effects.
Using progesterone cream during TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) or steroid cycles can enable you to use fewer aromatase inhibitors and make it easier to keep your hormones balanced and side effects reduced, both during as well as after cycles. Just make sure your steroid is not of the kind that also boosts progesterone, and keeps track of your hormone levels by frequent blood or saliva testing.
The other most common hormone that often becomes problematic on TRT or when using steroids is DHT (Dihydrotestosterone). DHT is often falsely blamed for causing hair loss and prostate issues in men because dermal or prostate tissue levels of DHT are often elevated in these cases. However, DHT, same as progesterone is an antagonizer of estrogen and prevents its feminizing effects when presented in excess.
In Europe, DHT creams have been successfully used to treat inflamed prostates, further adding to the cases that DHT is indeed not the cause but rather just plays a small part in the greater whole. The current belief is that estrogen is responsible for much of these problematic effects and not DHT, which is why DHT might be considered the body’s way of coping with the excess estrogen.
However, as with every hormone in the body, too much of one thing is never a good thing. DHT in excess levels by itself CAN contribute to hair loss and prostate problems as seen with the use of steroids that largely affect DHT such as Masteron, Anavar, Primobolan, Anadrol, Trenbolone, Dianabol and most importantly Proviron. Keep in mind that you have to be genetically prone to androgen-related hair loss to experience this side effect from steroids.
DHT is produced from testosterone by conversion by the enzyme 5α-reductase. In other words, TRT or steroid cycles that present higher levels of testosterone will also guarantee an increase in DHT.
The good news is that progesterone is a potent inhibitor of 5α-reductase and can minimize these potential side effects when supplemented as a natural progesterone cream. Clearly, progesterone can be very beneficial for keeping your estrogen and DHT levels at bay.
Progesterone Can Help You Get Rid of Man Boob:
Man boobs (aka gyno, gynecomastia) is one of the most feared health conditions for all men, along with erectile dysfunction and hair loss. What do all these three have in common? They can all develop from hormone imbalances such as estrogen dominance.
We have already established how progesterone affects estrogen, and how it can help reverse estrogen dominance. What is important to understand is that developing man boobs, or excessive male chest tissue growth, is all about your testosterone to estrogen to progesterone ratios. Another hormone called prolactin can also play an effect here but most often because it can further lower testosterone when presented in excess. DHT is also important since it can prevent feminizing effects such as gyno. It is not common to experience gyno while still having high levels of progesterone and DHT.
It is all simple really; gyno develops because feminization is occurring in the male body. Progesterone and DHT have antagonistic effects on estrogen and feminization, so if you have man boobs, you are almost guaranteed to have an imbalance there. Most likely low levels of progesterone and DHT. Estrogen is also guaranteed to be high, and testosterone often low since this is estrogen dominance in full effect.
So, what is the best way to reverse gyno? Get your progesterone and DHT levels back in range as well as make sure you reduce estrogen to normal range at all cost. Unfortunately, if your gyno has progressed far (which is often the case with steroid abuse or without taking all the precautions), it cannot be reversed through simple hormone modification. The excess tissue growth often has to be removed with surgery.
Do yourself a favour and keep track of your estrogen and progesterone levels and their ratios to testosterone, they are all equally important. It is not only about maximizing testosterone guys.
Natural Ways To Increase Progesterone:
Along with using a natural progesterone cream, there are also some other foods and supplements that can help increase progesterone levels:
- Chaste tree berry (Vitex agnus-castus, contrary to popular opinion this herb boosts libido in men)
- Maca (Lepidium meyenii, the red kind of Maca is the most potent)
- Vitamin B6 (we suggest the P-5-P kind)
- Vitamin C
- Magnesium (avoid Magnesium Oxide since it has lower bioavailability)
- Pregnenolone (precursor to progesterone and all other steroid hormones)
When it comes to foods that help increase progesterone, aim for the following:
- Dark leafy greens
- Nuts & seeds, especially walnuts
- Dark chocolate
- Red meat
- Citrus Fruits
- Broccoli (by improving estrogen metabolism)
There is a misconception among men that testosterone is the only male androgen worth optimizing for. As this article has clearly outlined, boosting testosterone will necessarily not provide you with the benefits your looking for unless your other hormones are also in the right balance. The ratio of testosterone to estrogen is far more important than the total amount of testosterone you have.
Gyno, estrogen dominance, hair loss, erectile dysfunction and prostate issues can all be devastating for men, yet men make themselves helpless in these conditions by abusing steroid drugs and not taking responsibility for their lifestyle and dietary choices that might severely impact their health in the long term. It is ironic that the highest grossing drug in the world is Viagra, yet so few men spend time learning how to maintain their erection and sexual health up into old age.
Whatever your goals are regarding weight loss, building muscle or as a serious competitive athlete; educating yourself and keeping track of hormonal markers such as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone can provide immense benefits. Not only for your wellbeing, but also for your exercise performance. Well-oiled gears make for effective machinery, and your body is no different.