Many times when people think of progesterone, the first thing that comes to mind is its role in the pregnancy process in women. There are, however, many aspects through which progesterone in men has many implications which can affect how men feel, sleep, and maintain overall hormonal balance.
Progesterone is a building block for many hormones which include testosterone, a very important in defining male characteristics. It also builds bone mass, takes part in regulating blood sugar, brain activity, and functions throughout the body to ensure a healthy balance. The process through which our bodies turn fat into energy is also affected by progesterone, as well as thyroid hormone production. These are just a few of the different aspects relating to how progesterone side effects help aid in processes throughout the body so it is clear why maintaining proper levels is important.
Low Progesterone Levels
Progesterone in men is something that needs to be monitored because of the negative outcomes which can take place when levels are too low. Since progesterone is a precursor to testosterone, low levels can often result in lack of sex drive, as conversely, it is an antagonist to estrogen. When the balance of progesterone in men is inadequate, it can result in what is known as estrogen dominance, a condition frequently associated with women.
Estrogen dominance can result in the feminization of men as well as in nervousness, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, prostate enlargement, higher risk of prostate cancer, and low libido. Many of these negative effects have substantial implications when considering there can be ways to mitigate or even prevent estrogen dominance. We will touch on some of the solutions later in the article.
A few signs that can become apparent when beginning to experience estrogen dominance are baldness, body odor changes, breast growth, and reduced muscle development. This should be met with a cautionary note because progesterone in men can be a cause of these outcomes but is not necessarily the cause of them.
If you feel as though you have low levels of progesterone and it is causing you to experience some of the things discussed in this section, it is encouraged that you contact your healthcare professional to decipher what is actually going on in your body. It can be very difficult to figure out what is happening without the opinion of an expert.
Petroleum Exposure Hinders Progesterone in Men
Petroleum products are everywhere in today’s society. It seems as though everything we encounter in our daily lives is packaged in thin plastics which are now known to be the largest source of xenoestrogen exposure. BPA and many other chemicals are known to cause disruptions in hormone balances. Their chemical structure resembles that of estrogen, and are called xenoestrogens. Excessive exposure can contribute to estrogen dominance.
When there is heat exposure to the plastics that we are using on a regular basis, in the form of dishwashers and microwaves, they tend to break down and release chemicals into our food and drinks. Since the body cannot metabolize these chemicals, they interfere with the endocrine system which can damage glands and affect hormones. A simple way to help reduce petroleum exposure is to store foods in non-plastic containers by using alternatives such as ceramic or glass.
The liver acts as a filter to clean and remove excess toxins from the body. One of these toxins can be estrogen. If the liver is already in a state of poor health due to excess food consumption, high sugar levels, too much alcohol, and high toxicity, then it will have a difficult time removing excess estrogen. When you consume foods that are high in sulfur such as onions and garlic, it can help to maintain healthy liver function as well as detoxification.
Alcohol causes blood estrogen levels to rise. Moderate drinking has been linked to lower levels of progesterone in men. There is also a link between alcohol consumption and lower levels of zinc absorption, which has a negative effect on progesterone production.
Progesterone’s overall regulation in the body is directly affected by our NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response.
NEM Stress Response
The system through which our bodies cope with and handle stress is relatively complex. This is known as the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response. The NEM is essentially a complex web which consists of systems and organs which link together to form a functional network.
One of the many complaints that those who are under high levels of stress often reference is exhaustion and poor physical condition. As it turns out, there might be contributing factors that we are able to control which can help us reduce these symptoms. There is a cyclical theme regarding many of the issues associated with anxiety. When people become stressed or experience high toxicity, depression, and lethargy, the typical response is to run to something that can make us feel better quickly. Often these choices are inferior and self-damaging.
There is a strong link between NEM factors and progesterone in men. Because the NEM stress response affects the adrenal glands, which are known to produce some of the body’s progesterone, increased stress has a negative outcome when seeking hormonal balance. This can, over time, result in a very damaging cycle. NEM is mainly handled by the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis. Because the burden of stress rests on two endocrine backbones like the pituitary gland and the adrenal glands which are both vital to progesterone production, it’s easy to see how stress can interfere with the process of maintaining healthy progesterone production.
When the NEM system triggers the “fight or flight” response, the adrenal glands use progesterone to produce cortisol. This means that not only does stress reduce progesterone production, it also uses the progesterone that you have already produced to create cortisol. High levels of cortisol on a continuing basis are not only unhealthy for much of the body but also need to be analyzed in relation to progesterone in men. Within the NEM response, no gland is more important than the adrenals when it comes to progesterone regular. Weak adrenals, such as those suffering from adrenal fatigue, can lead to progesterone dysregulation.
Adrenal Fatigue and Progesterone
Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) is a condition where your body cannot cope with increased stress by producing enough hormones to combat the negative effects of the NEM stress response. AFS takes place when the body has compounding factors which prevent sufficient recovery from stress. There are many people who suffer from this as the causes and symptoms are extremely similar to those of low progesterone levels. Among them are lethargy, anxiety, lack of sleep, confusion, malabsorption, and many others.
It is also very common for someone who is experiencing low progesterone to gain weight, which is another common symptom of AFS. This is a problem for a few reasons. With the focus on progesterone in men, when someone is overweight, their body cannot produce enough progesterone to counteract their levels of estrogen.
Earlier we touched on the fact that progesterone functions in tandem with the thyroid glands, helping them to produce more thyroid hormone which in turn helps metabolic health. When someone is suffering from AFS, it is often difficult to sleep and inflammation usually becomes unmanageable. Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory hormone but when it is produced in excess, the subsequent deficiency can prevent proper control of inflammation. In line with this same concept is the fact that if you are using all of your progesterone, which is anti-inflammatory in nature, to produce cortisol then you will not be able to reduce inflammation following a cortisol spike.
High levels of inflammation cause huge problems in the body. Inflammation results in many unwanted outcomes and it is a mainstay of adrenal fatigue problems. There can be lasting damage on the heart, brain, and liver when you are experiencing prolonged or chronic inflammation.
When considering the possibilities of this being the case for your inflammation, make sure to consult an expert regarding adrenal fatigue and its possible effects on your body. continue reading