Progesterone and Synthetic Progestins

What is the difference between Progesterone and Synthetic Progestins (provera or medroxyprogesterone?


Progesterone and Provera are two vastly different compounds with different effects in the body. Every cell in the body, including bone, heart, brain, and breasts, have progesterone receptors. Synthetic progestins (provera) are unable to balance the effect of estrogen dominance in the body and even contribute to imbalance. Many physicians feel that progesterone is safe in low doses (physiologic doses) in some breast cancer patients and may also be breast protective.

Progesterone is a natural hormone made by the adrenal glands and ovaries (and testes in men). Although progesterone and synthetic progestins both prevent proliferation of the uterine lining, they are very different compounds with very different effects in the body.

Progesterone is an integral part of the hormone balance and is a precursor hormone to Cortisol, aldosterone, estrogen, and testosterone. They synthetic progestins have been altered and minute differences in molecular structure convey vastly different biological messages.


Necessary for the survival and development of the embryo
More quickly metabolized
Protects against fibrocystic breast tissues, may protect against breast cancer
Coronary (heart) vasodilator
Increases bone density and stimulates osteoblasts (cells that build bone)
Improves blood lipid profile
Natural diuretic
Natural antidepressant
Helps relieve headaches secondary to estrogen dominance
Normalizes blood glucose levels
Normalizes blood clotting
Increases sex hormone binding globulin, thus decreasing free estradiol
Burns fat for energy
Restores libido
Decreases the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers
Helps stimulate thyroid hormone action
Very claming hormone
Balances estrogen and testosterone
Brain protective
Non patentable

Progestins (Provera):

Increase the risk of early abortion and congenital deformities, it is used in the morning after pill
Metabolized more slowly causing side effects
May increase the risk of breast cancer
Constricts coronary vessels, negates the possibly protective effect of estrogen on the heart arteries
Not protective against osteoporosis, long term use can cause decreased bone density
Detrimental effects on lipids (cholesterol/triglycerides)
Fluid retention and edema
Can cause depression
Can cause migraine headaches
Decreases glucose tolerance
Increases thromobotic disorders (example: DVTs)
Decreases sex hormone binding globuling contributing to estrogen dominance
Causes weight gain
Decreases libido
Decreases the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers
Decreases thyroid action (decreases T3 uptake)
Increases anxiety and nervousness
Does not balance estrogen and testosterone and increases hirsutism
Increases the risk of dementia
Patentable = Profitable for pharmaceutical companies

Info from: Premier Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Gynecology

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