Progesterone Cream: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) by Dr. Lee

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“Reprinted by permission from The Official Web Site of Dr. John R. Lee, M.D. (”
by John R. Lee, M.D. and Virginia Hopkins

Q: What is progesterone?

A: Progesterone is a steroid hormone made by the corpus luteum of the ovary at ovulation, and in smaller amounts by the adrenal glands. Progesterone is manufactured in the body from the steroid hormone pregnenolone, and is a precursor to most of the other steroid hormones, including cortisol, androstenedione, the estrogens and testosterone.

In a normally cycling female, the corpus luteum produces 20 to 30 mg of progesterone daily during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.

Q: Why do women need progesterone?

A: Progesterone is needed in hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women for many reasons, but one of its most important roles is to balance or oppose the effects of estrogen. Unopposed estrogen creates a strong risk for breast cancer and reproductive cancers.

Estrogen levels drop only 40-60% at menopause, which is just enough to stop the menstrual cycle. But progesterone levels may drop to near zero in some women. Because progesterone is the precursor to so many other steroid hormones, its use can greatly enhance overall hormone balance after menopause. Progesterone also stimulates bone-building and thus helps protect against osteoporosis.

Q: Why not just use the progestin Provera as prescribed by most doctors?

A: Progesterone is preferable to the synthetic progestins such as Provera, because it is natural to the body and has no undesirable side effects when used as directed.

If you have any doubts about how different progesterone is from the progestins, remember that the placenta produces 300-400 mg of progesterone daily during the last few months of pregnancy, so we know that such levels are safe for the developing baby. But progestins, even at fractions of this dose, can cause birth defects. The progestins also cause many other side effects, including partial loss of vision, breast cancer in test dogs, an increased risk of strokes, fluid retention, migraine headaches, asthma, cardiac irregularities and depression.

Q: What is estrogen dominance?

A: Dr. Lee has coined the term “estrogen dominance,” to describe what happens when the normal ratio or balance of estrogen to progesterone is changed by excess estrogen or inadequate progesterone. Estrogen is a potent and potentially dangerous hormone when not balanced by adequate progesterone.

Both women who have suffered from PMS and women who have suffered from menopausal symptoms, will recognize the hallmark symptoms of estrogen dominance: weight gain, bloating, mood swings, irritability, tender breasts, headaches, fatigue, depression, hypoglycemia, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and fibrocystic breasts. Estrogen dominance is known to cause and/or contribute to cancer of the breast, ovary, endometrium (uterus), and prostate.

Q: Why would a premenopausal woman need progesterone cream?

A: In the ten to fifteen years before menopause, many women regularly have anovulatory cycles in which they make enough estrogen to create menstruation, but they don’t make any progesterone, thus setting the stage for estrogen dominance. Using progesterone cream during anovulatory months can help prevent the symptoms of PMS.

We now know that PMS can occur despite normal progesterone levels when stress is present. Stress increases cortisol production; cortisol blockades (or competes for) progesterone receptors. Additional progesterone is required to overcome this blockade, and stress management is important.

Q: What is progesterone made from?

A: The USP progesterone used for hormone replacement comes from plant fats and oils, usually a substance called diosgenin which is extracted from a very specific type of wild yam that grows in Mexico, or from soybeans. In the laboratory diosgenin is chemically synthesized into real human progesterone. The other human steroid hormones, including estrogen, testosterone, progesterone and the cortisones are also nearly always synthesized from diosgenin.

Some companies are trying to sell diosgenin, which they label “wild yam extract” as a medicine or supplement, claiming that the body will then convert it into hormones as needed. While we know this can be done in the laboratory, there is no evidence that this conversion takes place in the human body.

Q: Where should I put the progesterone cream?

A: Because progesterone is very fat-soluble, it is easily absorbed through the skin. From subcutaneous fat, progesterone is absorbed into capillary blood. Thus absorption is best at all the skin sites where people blush: face, neck, chest, breasts, inner arms and palms of the hands.

Q: What is the recommended dosage of progesterone?

A: For premenopausal women the usual dose is 15-24 mg/day for 14 days before expected menses, stopping the day or so before menses.

For postmenopausal women, the dose that often works well is 15 mg/day for 25 days of the calendar month.

Q: What amount of progesterone do you recommend in a cream?

A: Dr. Lee recommends the creams that contain 450-500 mg of progesterone per ounce, which is 1.6% by weight or 3% by volume. This means that about one quarter teaspoon daily would provide about 20 mg/day.

Q: How safe is progesterone cream?

A: During the third trimester of pregnancy, the placenta produces about 300 mg of progesterone daily, so we know that a one-time overdose of the cream is virtually impossible. If you used a whole jar at once it might make you sleepy. However, Dr. Lee recommends that women avoid using higher than the recommended dosage to avoid hormone imbalances. More is not better when it comes to hormone balance.

Q: Wouldn’t it be easier to just take a progesterone pill?

A: Dr. Lee recommends the transdermal cream rather than oral progesterone, because some 80% to 90% of the oral dose is lost through the liver. Thus, at least 200 to 400 mg daily is needed orally to achieve a physiologic dose of 15 to 24 mg daily. Such high doses create undesirable metabolites and unnecessarily overload the liver.

Q: Where can I get more information on progesterone and natural hormone balance?

A: For a detailed explanation of women’s hormone balance issues, a hormone balance program, as well as detailed descriptions of how to use natural progesterone, the following books by John R. Lee, M.D. are recommended:

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About PREmenopause

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer

Click here for more about these books including sample chapters and purchase information.

Bioidentical Progesterone / Natural Progesterone Cream List

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This is a free list that is updated occasionally. Before you buy any of these creams, be aware that different creams contain different amounts of USP Natural Progesterone. This means that you may have to adjust how much of the cream you use to achieve the dosage levels recommended by Dr. Lee. In his books, Dr. Lee based his dosage recommendations on creams that contain 450 to 500 milligrams of USP Natural Progesterone per ounce. We would encourage you to email or call the companies and ask how many milligrams per ounce they put in their creams so that you can adjust how much cream you use.

John Lee M.D. Solutions. Our product — ProgesterAll™ — is the same cream formula that Dr. Lee and his family have used for more than a decade. It is the only cream that is authorized by the Lee family to have Dr. Lee s name on it. To learn more or to purchase ProgesterAll, come to our web site at

John Lee M.D. Solutions
(877) 375-3363 (toll free)
(707) 838-9800 (outside the United States)

AIM International, Inc., 3904 East Flamingo Ave., Nampa, ID 83687, (208) 465-5116. Renewed Balance progesterone cream.

Bio-Nutritional Formulas, 106 E. Jericho Tpke, P.O. Box 311, Mineola, NY 11501, (800) 950-8484. Fem-Gest cream.

Broadmoore Labs Inc., 3875 Telegraph Road/294, Ventura, CA 93003, (800) 822-3712. Makers of Natra-Gest progesterone creams.

Dr. Helen Pensanti’s Cream: Helen Pensanti MD,Inc., P.O. Box 7530, Newport Beach, Ca 92658, 714-542-8333, fax 949-8564573, &,

Dr. Randolph’s Natural Balance Cream: For Women
Toll free (866) 628-6337, this is Dr. Randy Randolph’s cream, which contains only progesterone as its active ingredient, and no chemicals.

Easy Way International, 5340 Commerce Circle, #E, Indianapolis, IN 46237, (800) 267-4522. They make Gentle Changes progesterone cream.

Emerita, Pro-Gest, 621 SW Alder, Ste 900, Portland, OR 97205-3627, (503)226-1010 or(800) 648-8211. The original natural progesterone cream. A Division of Transitions For Health, Inc.,

The Health and Science Research Inst, 1648 Taylor Rd, Ste 118, Port Orange, FL 32128, (888) 222-1415, fax (347) 289-5450 Serenity for Women progesterone cream.

HM Enterprises, 2622 Bailey Dr., Norcross, GA 30071, (800) 742-4773. website, or They make Happy PMS progesterone cream.

International Health, 8704 E. Mulberry St, Scottsdale, Arizona 85251 Makers of EssPro’Leve Plus Progesterone Cream with Essential Oils. 1-800-481-9987 or (480) 874-1419. Website:

Kevala, a division of Karuna, 42 Digital Drive #7, Novato, CA 94949 , 888-749-8643, website,, e-mail They make PureGest Lotion which is free from additional hormones, herbs and alcohols.

Kokoro, LLC., P.O. Box 597, Tustin, CA 92781, (800) 599-9412, (714) 836-7749, website They offer Kokoro Women s Balance Creme.

Life-flo Health Care Products, 8146 N. 23rd Ave., Ste. E, Phoenix, AZ 85021, (888) 999-7440, e-mail, website or They make Progestacare cream.

Natural Pause-Natural Menopause Solutions
11683 Noguera Ave, Ventura, CA 93001 (888) 267-5032, makers of Natural Pause cream.

Nature’s Sunshine Products, Inc.
75 E. 1700 S., Provo, UT. 84606.(800) 223-8225m, e-mail,; Pro-G-Yam 500 Progesterone Cream with wild yam extract. Online distributor:

Products of Nature, 54 Danbury Road, Ridgefield, CT 06877, (800) 665-5952. – Connecticut – Texas
Maker of Natural Woman progesterone cream.

Pure Essence Labs, Inc.
1999 Whitney Mesa Drive, Suite A, Henderson, NV 89014, (888) 254-8000
Makers of FemCreme.

Vitality Lifechoice, Carson City, NV, (800) 423-8365. They make Balance Cream.

Vitamin Research Products, Inc.
3579 Highway 50 East, Carson City, NV 89701, (775) 884-1300, (800) 877-2447, makers of HerBalance Cream.

Women’s Health America, Inc., 1289 Deming Way , Madison , WI 53717 , (800) 558-7046,, email . Restore BioBalance Progesterone Cream.

If your doctor is interested in natural hormones but hesitant about prescribing an over-the-counter cream, you can put him/her in touch with a compounding pharmacist skilled in the use of natural hormone supplements, who can educate your physician and provide dosing guidelines. For a referral in your area contact IACP (International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists), (800) 927-4227, ext 300, or go online to the website address above.


Natural Progesterone Information Service
PO Box 24, Buxton, SK17 9FB
Tel: 07000 784849 Fax: 01298 70979

The Natural Progesterone Information Service aims to provide information on all aspects of the use of natural progesterone to women, doctors and other healthcare providers. NPIS also makes available many books, tapes, videos and scientific papers related to natural progesterone.

Natural hormones, including progesterone, are a prescription-only item in Australia.

Compounding Pharmacy
MJ Health & Beauty, 103 Isabella St, Wingham, NSW, 2429, Australia, Ph: 1300 66 90 45,

This post is from Dr. John R. Lee’s Web Page, for more information on hormone imbalance, please visit his web page by clicking here.