Natural progesterone fared well in the new KEEPS study. It proved to be effective for menopausal symptoms, but without the risks of conventional HRT.
When I first started practicing in the 1990s, many of my patients needed a way off the nasty HRT duo of Premarin (horse estrone) and Provera (medroxyprogesterone). As the WHI study was to prove in 2002, those pseudo-hormones cause breast cancer and significant cardiovascular risk. My job as a natural doctor was to help women transition onto natural progesterone.
Advocating for natural hormones has not been easy. Until now, the medical community has been decidedly scornful. Despite the mounting evidence that body-identical hormones—real human hormones—are better for the body, most doctors were not aware there was even a difference. In a structural diagram of the hormones, natural progesterone differs from medroxyprogesterone by just one tiny methyl group. What’s the big deal?
As it turns out, that tiny molecular difference is an incredibly big deal. (A breast cancer, heart attack kind of big deal.) A hormone fits into a receptor like a key into a lock. Is it any surprise that the wrong key did the wrong job?
So far in the KEEPS study, body-identical estradiol and progesterone have proved effective for menopausal symptoms but with no risk for heart health. According to one of the researchers:
… the form of progesterone used in WHI, medroxyprogesterone is very different than the form that KEEPS used, which is micronized progesterone, the more natural form of progesterone. We certainly did not see any adverse effects with this type of progesterone..
“This type of progesterone…” — Finally!
As body-identical progesterone and estradiol transition into mainstream therapies, they are going to lose their “natural” label, but that is OK with this natural doctor. Personally, I will welcome the day when it is no longer my job to do damage control for conventional medicine. But sadly, I suspect that day is a long way off.
Old-fashioned HRT may be giving way to natural hormones, but the birth control pill and its pseudo-hormones still reign supreme. Young women die of pill-induced blood clots every year. Women suffer weight gain, depression, and low libido from the pill, but it seems to be more popular than ever. The natural hormone message still has a long way to go.
See my 2021 blog post: What are bioidentical or body-identical hormones?