From: Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic study finds natural progesterone offers more health benefits to post-menopausal women

ROCHESTER, MINN.-- A new type of natural progesterone improves the quality of life for post-menopausal women, according to a new Mayo Clinic study published in the May issue of the Journal of Women's Health. The study reports that women who include naturally occurring progesterone in their hormone replacement therapy are more satisfied with their overall quality of life. The natural hormone, called micronized progesterone, does not negate the positive effect of estrogen on cholesterol levels, like synthetic progesterone does.

Investigators interviewed 176 women whose prescribed hormone replacement therapy combined the natural progesterone with estrogens. In the study, 80 percent of the participants reported increased satisfaction with the new, natural progesterone as compared to previous therapies that used synthetic progesterone. Subjects indicated a significant improvement in bleeding patterns and in control of symptoms when the micronized progesterone was compared with previous therapy.

The results of our study indicate that natural progesterone may offer a wider range of benefits to women taking hormone replacement therapy," says Lorraine Fitzpatrick, M.D., Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and the lead investigator of the study. "We already know that progesterone decreases some of the risks of estrogen replacement therapy such as increased risk of endometrial cancers. Now it seems that naturally occurring progesterone can reduce the occurrence of sleep disorders, hot flashes, anxiety and symptoms of depression."

Half of the study participants reported an improvement in vasomotor symptoms such as "hot flashes." Of the participants, 45 percent felt that psychological symptoms such as feelings of depression and anxiety improved, and 32 percent saw a decrease in sleep disorders. Other areas of improvement included menstrual problems, cognitive difficulties and sexual functioning.

The natural hormone, micronized progesterone, is made from yams and is chemically identical to the naturally occurring progesterone found in the body. Micronized progesterone also is more finely ground for better absorption.

In a large study of menopausal women published in 1998, micronized progesterone also had the most favorable effect on LDL and HDL cholesterol levels associated with cardiovascular risk.

This article comes from Science Blog. Copyright 2004