I recently attended a three-day bioidentical hormone conference given by Dr. Jonathan Wright. Wright is teaching doctors around the world how to safely use natural medicine in their practices.
It was a great conference, and it helped me add some pieces into my knowledge of the hormone puzzle.
Hormones influence every cell in our bodies. In this column, I want to focus on one small piece of the puzzle, a common problem that is easily treatable. That problem is low progesterone levels in the body causing sleep problems in women.
This is an interesting subject because of the strong relationship between high stress levels and low progesterone. We live in a culture full of stressed-out, tired women. Unfortunately, many of these women do not sleep well, and often, low progesterone levels are at the root of the problem.
The way stress causes low progesterone is through a simple shift of priorities. In times of high stress, the production of cortisol, a major stress hormone, is increased at the expense of progesterone, which is a reproductive hormone. This phenomenon is called the “pregnenolone steal.” Pregnenolone is made from cholesterol and is the starting ingredient for both cortisol and progesterone. In times of continuous high stress, the body often cannot produce enough pregnenolone to make both hormones. So it has to decide which is more important, and cortisol usually wins. Our bodies will sacrifice reproduction for survival every time.