Natural Progesterone and BPH - by James Occhiogrosso, N.D. 

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In the past, effects of so-called female hormones like estrogen and progesterone were thought to have little male functionality.  However, research shows that these predominantly female hormones bind to receptors on the prostate, initiating actions within the prostate to modulate its growth and function.  High estrogen levels in particular, have been implicated in the development of various prostate conditions like BPH and prostate cancer.  Studies show estrogen tends to activate a gene that causes prostate growth while progesterone inhibits it. [1] [2] [3]

Benign prostate enlargement (BPH), prostate cancer, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, weight gain, and loss of muscle tone is a concern of all men as they age.  A common link between these symptoms is often a hormonal imbalance, particularly low levels of testosterone, progesterone, and DHEA relative to high levels of estrogen.

Progesterone is a hormone precursor used to build other hormones. In addition to its own properties, it has profound effects on the availability of all the others.  A deficiency in progesterone inherently results in other imbalances.  As a man ages, his progesterone production decreases, resulting in a corresponding decrease in his testosterone level.  At the same time, his estrogen levels increase slightly. This combination of age-related hormonal changes results in increased risk for prostate problems.  Coincidentally, excess estrogen is a key player in abnormal breast tissue proliferation.  This is one reason older men frequently have enlarged breasts.

Progesterone and testosterone are attracted to the same receptors on the prostate as estrogen.  When either of them docks in an estrogen receptor, it effectively prevents estrogenic signals to the prostate.  Thus, by restoring progesterone and testosterone levels—both of which tend to fall as a man ages—some of the negative effects of estrogen can be blocked.  [4] [5] [6]  This can help reverse some prostate conditions—providing they are not too advanced.  A 1981 study found that premenopausal woman with low progesterone levels had more than a five-fold increase in risk of breast cancer and a ten-fold increase in deaths from all cancers.  [7]  This and other studies strongly suggest that progesterone deficiency is linked to various cancers.[8] [9]  While there is no specific corresponding study in men, there are numerous anecdotal reports of reductions or BPH, reversal of progesterone cancer, and lowering of PSA levels using natural progesterone.  

Note that the above discussion refers only to natural, bio-identical, USP progesterone. *  Compounds called progestins—produced by the pharmaceutical industry—are similar in structure to natural progesterone, but differ in their effects on the body.  The pharmaceutical industry often links the terms “progestin” and “progesterone.”  Printed literature often makes no distinction between the two.  As a result, many medical practitioners—and the general public—believe they are the same.  They are not!  They are structurally different and have profoundly different effects on the human body. [10]

Supplementing with natural hormones can alleviate some age-related problems for many men (and women) over forty.  However, it is important to test your hormone levels prior to supplementing.  This is simple and can be done conveniently at home with a saliva test kit which you can purchase from my website.  The kit is easy to use, comes with complete instructions, a sample collection tube, and a prepaid mailing envelope.

It is easy to supplement with progesterone.  In older men, a return to youthful progesterone levels can usually be achieved by a 6-8 mg per day application of a transdermal cream.  This is about 1/16 to 1/8 of a teaspoon of cream containing 500 mg of progesterone per ounce.  Since progesterone is a precursor to several hormones—one of which is testosterone—it can often resolve many symptoms. 

Studies suggest that low testosterone and progesterone levels coupled with increasing estrogen levels lead to prostate dysfunction. Still, many conventional practitioners are cautious regarding anything that might increase a man’s androgen levels, such as replacement of testosterone, progesterone, DHEA, or any other testosterone precursor.  In my opinion, when aging men with low androgen levels use supplemental hormones, not only does their prostate function, sex drive, and sexual ability return to normal, but in many cases their overall health takes a major turn for the better.

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* USP is an acronym for United States Pharmaceutical and indicates a pharmaceutical grade product. Bio-identical means the substance is identical to that produced by the body.

Copyright 2008, James Occhiogrosso, N.D.,, All Rights Reserved worldwide.  Parts of this article are excerpted from the book, “Your Prostate, Your Libido, Your Life: A Guide to Natural solutions for Common Prostate Problems”.  Permission is granted to reproduce this article providing it is not modified from the original and includes all web addresses and links.


[1] Hetts, S., To Die or Not to Die: an overview of apoptosis and its role in disease. Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 279, No. 4:300-307, Jan 1998.

[2] Formby, B., et al. Progesterone inhibits growth and induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells: inverse effects on Bcl-2 and p53. Annals of Clinical & Laboratory Science, Vol.28, No. 6:360-9, Nov-Dec 1998.

[3] Formby, B., et al. Bcl-2, surviving and variant CD44 v7-v10 are downregulated and p53 is upregulated in breast cancer cells by progesterone: inhibition of cell growth and induction of apoptosis. Molecular and cellular biochemistry, Vol. 202, No. 1-2:53-61, Dec. 1999.

[4] Lee, John, Natural Progesterone, Multiple Roles of a Remarkable Hormone, 2nd Ed, 1999, Jon Carpenter Publishing, Market Street, Charlbury, UK, pgs 45, 48-49, 65, 93.

[5] Mercola, J, Progesterone Cream Can Help Prostate Cancer, Mercola Newsletter, Issue 67, Sept. 98.

[6] Srilatha, B., et al. Oestrogen-androgen crosstalk in the pathophysiology of erectile dysfunction. Asian Journal of Andrology, Vol. 5:307-313, Dec. 2003.

[7] Cowan L.D. et al, Breast cancer incidence in women with a history of progesterone deficiency. American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 114, No.2:209-217, 1981.

[8] Yang N, et al, Identification of an estrogen response element activated by metabolites of 17B-estradiol and raloxifen. Science, Vol. 273, No. 5279:1222-1225. Aug. 1996.

[9] Bonkhoff, H., et al. Implications of estrogens and their receptors for the development and progression of prostate cancer. Der Pathologe, Vol. 26, No. 6:461-468, Nov. 2005.

[10] Lee, John. Natural Progesterone: The multiple roles of a remarkable hormone. Jon Carpenter Publishing, Charlbury, U.K., Second Ed. 2002