Progesterone is very often considered for its role in pregnancy, and while it does play an important role in this process, it can also offer some benefits for men. Namely, progesterone cream may help how men feel and sleep while also maintaining their overall hormonal balance.
The Role of Progesterone
Progesterone itself is a building block for many hormones, including testosterone. This is why its application can help to balance and maintain overall hormone levels.
Testosterone is considered the male sex hormone, and as such, it is responsible for defining male characteristics, such as body hair and a deep voice.
However, progesterone also plays a role in regular body functions such as building bone mass, promoting brain activity, regulating blood sugar levels, and keeping the body in a healthy balance.
Progesterone also impacts thyroid hormone production, which controls metabolism, or the process by which our body turns fat into energy.
The many roles of progesterone in the male body include:
- fertility support
- testosterone biosynthesis
- supports healthy mood
- blocking gonadotropin secretion
- improving sleep
- supports healthy energy levels
- supports healthy DHEA levels
- supports healthy blood pressure
- decreases the risk of prostate cancer
- supports healthy muscle mass
- mobilizes fat for energy and regulates weight
- prevents the conversion of testosterone into DHT
- healthy erectile function support
Progesterone may also affect the immune system, cardiovascular system, kidney function, respiratory system, adipose tissue, tumors in the CNS, and behavior. In short, progesterone affects a lot of your body.
The Symptoms of Low Progesterone
While hormone levels continually go up and down, men who experience progesterone levels that are frequently too low can develop some complications and unpleasant symptoms.
Since progesterone is a precursor to testosterone, low progesterone levels can also lead to low testosterone, with both conditions causing unpleasant symptoms.
Some signs of low progesterone in men include:
- hair loss
- bone loss
- loss of muscle mass
- erectile dysfunction
- cognitive concerns
- mood swings
- low libido
- weight gain
- development of male breasts
Low progesterone levels can also result in a condition called estrogen dominance. This occurs because progesterone is an agonist to estrogen, so if progesterone is too low, estrogen levels are able to rise higher than they should be.
Some of the symptoms of estrogen dominance in men include:
- abdominal weight gain
- brain fog
Men with low progesterone levels are also at an increase in health conditions such as arthritis, prostate cancer, osteoporosis, and prostatism (an obstruction of the bladder neck, typically due to an enlarged prostate).
Testing Progesterone Levels
When men start to experience problems with the above symptoms, they may think to only check their testosterone levels since that is the most prominent hormone in men. However, it is also beneficial to see if progesterone levels are lower than they should be, since this may be the reason behind the low testosterone levels.
Testing hormone levels, in a general, is a simple process where your healthcare professional only needs to take a blood sample using a small needle. There may be a slight sting as the needle goes in and out of the skin, but overall, it is a simple and quick way to monitor your hormone levels.
Your doctor may also check hormone levels using a saliva test.
What Can Cause Low Progesterone Levels?
There are a myriad of conditions that can cause low progesterone levels, such as:
As we age, our progesterone levels become significantly lower, also causing testosterone levels to decline.
While progesterone is not a vitamin or mineral that can be consumed through food (like vitamin D or iron), there are some foods that may help stimulate your production of progesterone.
These foods include:
- brussels sprouts
- whole grains
There are also some foods that can decrease the amount of estrogen in the body, which can help with the balance between estrogen and progesterone.
A diet that lacks these foods may contribute to your low progesterone levels.
Stress can also significantly impact progesterone levels. This is because when your body experiences chronic stress, it produces more of the hormone cortisol to help manage the stress. However, progesterone is a precursor to cortisol, so progesterone levels decline when your body produces more cortisol.
Studies have shown that those who smoke have a significantly lower level of progesterone than those who don’t.
Increasing Progesterone Levels with Progesterone Cream
For those with low progesterone levels that cause unpleasant symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be an appealing treatment option. HRT encompasses many hormones, including estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. While these hormones can be delivered in various ways, such as through an injection or pill, men who suffer from low progesterone may see the greatest benefit from progesterone cream.
Progesterone cream is typically used for women to help relieve the symptoms of menopause. However, for men, this cream can be applied topically to the scrotum.
The scrotum is the bag of skin that holds the testes, which produce both progesterone and testosterone.
For hormonal creams, it is important to apply them at the site in which they are needed. For men with low progesterone levels, this means applying the progesterone cream to the scrotum. This allows the hormones to be absorbed by the testes, where they can then be transformed into testosterone.
When taking progesterone cream, it is essential to apply it every day, typically twice a day, although you should follow the instructions provided by your doctor.
Additional Habits to Increase Progesterone
While our age is not something we can control, there are other habits you can adopt, in addition to using progesterone cream, to help keep your progesterone at a healthy level, such as:
- maintain a healthy body weight
- consume foods that stimulate progesterone production (e.g., broccoli, beans, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, pumpkin, nuts, whole grains, and spinach)
- reduce stress
- stop smoking
Progesterone for Male Health
While progesterone is often considered a female hormone, it plays essential roles in the male body and can decline due to many reasons, the most permanent being age.
Because of the many side effects of low progesterone levels, men often seek a way to address them. Progesterone cream is an easy-to-use treatment, and when applied directly to the scrotum, it delivers the hormones right to the site where they are needed.
Herrera, A., Nielsen, S., & Mather, M. (2016). Stress-induced increases in progesterone and cortisol in naturally cycling women. Neurobiology Of Stress, 3, 96-104. doi: 10.1016/j.ynstr.2016.02.006
Adeyemi, D., Oyeyipo, I., Akanbi, K., & Oluwole, T. (2018). Nicotine alters progesterone and estradiol levels during the first trimester of pregnancy in Wistar rats. JBRA Assisted Reproduction. doi: 10.5935/1518-0557.20180014
About Dr. Mel Irvine
Dr. Mel Irvine, DNP and Clinical Sexologist specializes in sexual medicine and beauty in Fort Myers Florida. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice at Florida Gulf Coast University and her master’s degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In 2018, she completed a preceptorship at San Diego Sexual Medicine with Dr. Irwin Goldstein and obtained her clinical sexologist certification from STII with Dr. Carol Clark. She is passionate about working with singles and couples to learn and explore their sexuality and sexual health needs through providing a comfortable and nonjudgmental atmosphere. As a provider she offers a balanced and holistic approach that encompasses a multimodal care delivery model.