Progesterone replacement therapy is a type of hormone therapy that boosts progesterone levels to healthy ranges. Progesterone is an important hormone in your body that performs many different functions. Recent evidence suggests that progesterone may also play a role in blood pressure regulation. The risk for high blood pressure goes up after menopause, which is when progesterone is typically low. Researchers are now looking into whether progesterone may help reduce blood pressure risks, with promising results.
Blood pressure is an important marker of health. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can put you at risk for many different health issues. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can increase the risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and even kidney disease. High blood pressure can damage arteries, blood vessels, and organs over time. Despite all these health risks, high blood pressure often causes zero symptoms on its own. Because of the many negative effects of high blood pressure, experts are exploring many ways to help people reduce their risk for hypertension.
In the past, many believed that both the female hormones estrogen and progesterone increased blood pressure. This was because many women taking hormone-based birth control and hormone replacement therapy for menopause experienced high blood pressure as a side effect. However, recent research shows that estrogen is the likely culprit for increased blood pressure. Progesterone, by contrast, may have the opposite effect. As a natural diuretic, progesterone may actually lower blood pressure for some women.
Progesterone replacement therapy is often paired with estrogen to treat menopause symptoms. Every patient who still has a uterus is prescribed progesterone alongside estrogen. This is because progesterone helps prevent the uterine lining from becoming too thick, increasing the risk for endometrial cancer. Therefore, in the past many researchers had difficulty separating the effects of progesterone and estrogen for women taking both at the same time. However, progesterone replacement therapy on its own is getting more and more attention. For example, some studies have found progesterone-only therapy may help with menopausal hot flashes.
With more research into progesterone by itself, some have begun to look at the relationship between progesterone and blood pressure. Research is still ongoing, but many studies have found that progesterone replacement therapy either has no effect on blood pressure, or that it may help lower blood pressure. It’s important to discuss your specific circumstances with our treatment providers, but this is encouraging evidence for women who may want to take bioidentical hormone therapy with progesterone for menopause symptoms.
Progesterone does many things in the body. It’s responsible for preparing the uterus for potential pregnancy, regulating your menstrual cycle, and keeping estrogen and other hormones in check. Progesterone also seems to help with blood pressure regulation.
Many medical professionals are interested in the relationship between progesterone and blood pressure. After all, blood pressure tends to be quite low during pregnancy, when progesterone levels are high. By contrast, post-menopausal women have a higher risk for high blood pressure, which is when the ovaries start producing significantly less progesterone. There have been several studies into the link between progesterone and blood pressure that indicate it may have a lowering effect on blood pressure.
One 2001 study found that progesterone was independently associated with vascular effects. This essentially means that, outside of estrogen, progesterone may affect the blood vessels. The researchers also found that progesterone changed the blood pressure response to norepinephrine, which typically increases blood pressure. This isn’t the only study to show a positive effect on high blood pressure from progesterone. A small study from 1985 looked at people with hypertension taking progesterone replacement therapy. Researchers looked at six men and four post-menopausal women and saw that blood pressure dropped significantly after taking progesterone. Therefore, these studies suggest progesterone may reduce the risk for hypertension.
The hormone progesterone can act as a natural diuretic, which is essentially something that helps your body get rid of extra salt and water through your urine. Diuretics like water pills are also a common treatment option for high blood pressure. This is because they can help reduce the amount of water in your blood, which means there’s less fluid in your veins causing excess pressure. Because of this effect of progesterone in your body, some believe that progesterone replacement therapy may also help lower blood pressure for women with low progesterone.
However, there may be other explanations. For instance, a 2021 study published in the journal Hypertension found that progesterone had three effects that may help reduce blood pressure. This study looked at short-term effects of progesterone on blood pressure. They concluded that progesterone may have a direct impact on blood vessels in the body.
The researchers found that progesterone dilated blood vessels, which can reduce the amount of pressure on the vessel walls. The study also found that progesterone helped prevent an increase in blood pressure that usually comes with exposure to adrenaline-like hormones. Another effect of progesterone the researchers in the 2021 study found was that progesterone helped block calcium intake in the smooth muscle cells. This may work similarly to calcium channel blocker medications, which are also commonly used to treat high blood pressure, as calcium can cause the blood vessels to squeeze tighter and increase blood pressure.
Of course, there may be other potential ways progesterone affects blood pressure. For instance, some believe progesterone may have an indirect effect on blood pressure through BMI. Progesterone replacement therapy may reduce the risk of weight gain and high BMI, which are associated with high blood pressure.
Our treatment providers may recommend progesterone replacement therapy for a few different reasons. It’s common to use progesterone and estrogen in combination to alleviate menopause symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes. If you still have a uterus, our providers always prescribe progesterone with estrogen. Progesterone helps counteract the endometrial thickening properties of estrogen to reduce the risk of cancer. Therefore, if you’re taking estrogen for menopause, you will also likely be taking progesterone replacement therapy. In some cases, our medical professionals may also recommend progesterone alone to help with your menopause symptoms.
Progesterone may also serve as a hormone imbalance treatment if you’re suffering from low progesterone. If you have low progesterone levels, other hormones like estrogen and testosterone may be thrown out of balance. This can lead to many concerning symptoms, such as:
Therefore, there may be many reasons why our providers may prescribe progesterone replacement therapy for you.
Our providers at HerKare take a holistic approach to healthcare. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, high blood pressure, or other conditions, make an appointment at one of our clinics. We offer personalized treatment solutions to help you feel your best. Our team works with you to find treatment solutions that work for you. For instance, if you have both high blood pressure and menopause symptoms, we may recommend a combination of lifestyle changes, bioidentical hormone therapy, blood pressure medications to address your whole health. Get in touch to learn how we can help you feel better again.