Although I am reluctant to admit it, I accept the fact that mainstream media is severely biased simply because their sources for information are all conventional and sponsored by big drug companies. It’s no longer a gripe, it’s the truth and for those of us committed to providing the public with honest information and options, we have to accept it and work with it.
Last week the Today Show had a segment on hormones and the doctor interviewed, a Dr. Brasner from Mt. Sinai, expounded on the terrible things that go wrong when you take progesterone. As an aside, Dr. Brasner is a frequently used expert on birth control pills and other synthetic hormones and is a believer that it’s okay to stop women from having periods because as she says “women are just too busy to have a period”. I am sure manufacturers of Seasonale love her! No harm in that if you know where she is coming from when she dispenses advice. In fact, once I understood her philosophy I also understood why she is so confused about the difference between progesterone and progestin. Her source of information wants her to be confused so the distinction is not made and options do not exist.
As a result I am writing this entry for you to clarify the situation and give you honest and well balanced options that are in no way sponsored by big pharmaceutical companies.
Let me address the difference between PROGESTERONE and Progestin.
Progesterone is the name of the natural and human hormone made by the ovary after we ovulate midmonth. Progesterone is made by the corpus luteum, an organ that only exists for the two weeks after ovulation in non-pregnant women. Its main job is to make PROGESTERONE.
Progesterone has multiple roles with the goal of balancing the effects of the human estrogen. Estrogen and progesterone are intertwined and one without the other does not work; neither alone does the trick of getting us to feel good and stay well. Together in balance, we are on the right path. Just think of the 20 year olds with plenty of estrogen and progesterone in their bodies. Not much of a chance for thinning bones, cancer or heart attacks. And it’s all about being young and full of hormones. Not exactly a terrible place to be.
As part of the estrogen-progesterone team, the role of progesterone includes the following:
•Preparation of the lining of the uterus for implantation of the fertilized egg
•Securing survival or the fetus in the uterus
•Improvement of fat burning at the cellular level
•Calming effect on the mind
•Helper of improved sleep pattern
•Help with keeping insulin release in check
•Prevention of overgrowth of lining of the uterus
•Prevention of breast tissue overgrowth
•Support of sex drive
•Help with maintenance of normal blood clotting
•Protection against fibrocystic disease
Please understand all these effects only occur when progesterone is properly balanced with our own estrogen or bioidentical forms thereof. If you were to add synthetic estrogen to the picture, which was actually done as part of the PEPI trials in the mid 1990s, the results are better than when using synthetics alone, but they are not as good as when we use bioidentical hormones together.
Progesterone is only found in two ways: your body makes it, or you use bioidentical, micronized or natural progesterone (which are all names for the same thing).
Bioidentical progesterone is made from yam oils in a chemical lab, by the pharmaceutical industry. Labs will extract diosgenin from the yam or soy plant, convert the molecule to progesterone and then break it down into the other hormones (estrone, estradiol, estriol, testosterone, etc.). Bioidentical progesterone is identical in molecular structure to the human progesterone, so when you or I use it, our bodies do not react to it adversely, they recognize it as they would their own. That means that if progesterone is administered correctly and in proper balance with estrogen we feel better.
The only reason progesterone is not the leading method of hormonal supplementation for progesterone is that is cannot be patented. Drug companies do not like medications they cannot patent so they have an intricate machinery to ignore their existence, confuse the public and the physicians into believing they are either not sufficiently studied, or are the same as their synthetic products.
Patent = lots of money for the owner of the patent, the drug company.
Natural= healthy for people but of no interest to drug companies.
You can’t put a patent on something that is naturally occurring, i.e. water, air, sunshine and in this case human hormones. In summary, no patent no profit, no interest in talking about it.
Now we understand that progesterone is not patentable but very necessary so we can now follow the money trail and find the patented product – PROGESTIN.
Progestin is a synthetic drug. It has absolutely nothing to do with progesterone. It is a patented drug and it was developed by Wyeth pharmaceuticals to decrease the negative effect of Premarin, their horse urine estrogen drug that caused an increase in uterine cancer.
Progestin helps shrink the lining of the uterus and thus helps diminish the problem caused by Premarin. But like all other synthetic drugs, progestin has side-effects. This commonly happens when you treat a symptom and not the cause of a particular problem.
Progestin causes bleeding problems, clots, and even cancer. That is what the Women’s Health Initiative found out 4 years ago. Yet Progestin (trade name Provera) was not taken off the market at that point.
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of progestin and owner of its patent, is involved in a multimillion dollar campaign to confuse the public and obviously the physicians about the difference between PROGESTERONE and progestIN.
Hopefully, I have been a little less obtuse than my fellow physicians in the way I have explained the difference between progestin and progesterone to you.
The final choices should always be yours and when you decide what to make the choice to feel better, keep in mind your goal should always be to go with the natural alternative (Progesterone).