What is the difference between Progesterone and Estrogen?
Only One Progesterone but Many Estrogens.
Progesterone is a hormone made by men and women.
It is a very specific molecule made in women primarily by the ovary and in men by the testes. But it is also made by the adrenal gland, is even very likely made by hair follicles and by brain cells.
There are receptors for progesterone essentially in every tissue of the body from nerves to brain cells to thyroid cells to muscle cells, fat cells and of course the breast, the ovary and the uterus. So you have to realize that progesterone is a very specific hormone.
Progesterone, has specific molecular configuration. We make it in our body from cholesterol.
Estrogen is a class name. There is no hormone named estrogen. There is estrone, estradiol, estrial. There are about 20-30 different estrogens. Horse estrogen is different from human estrogen and so on. But there is no hormone named estrogen.
There is no apple named apple, you have Delicious, Pippins, Granny Smith, you've got all these different apples they all have their own name. The same thing with estrogen.
When you get a chance to talk to doctors they will think of progesterone in terms of a class name that there are a bunch of them, Provera and these artificial things are not progesterone.
And they'll think of estrogen as a unique thing and it is not, it is a class. They do different things. Estriol you make in large amount only during pregnancy, it doesn't do anything for hot flashes and probably doesn't do anything for maintaining minerals and bones.
Estradiol is the only one that has a receptor in bone structure.
So there is only one progesterone and all estrogens are not the same.
What is estrogen's role in menopause?
Estrogen production in the ovaries decreases as a woman enters perimenopause. It is estimated that estrogen levels drop to about 50% of pre-menopausal levels. Other tissues in the body, most notably the adrenals and fat tissue, have the ability to produce estrogens. This accounts for some of the variation in estrogen production post-menopausally. The decrease in estrogen has been associated with a number of menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms. These include a change in cervical mucus causing vaginal dryness, thinning of the vaginal walls and changes in the endometrial lining which plays a role in irregular bleeding cycles. Although a decrease in estrogen has been associated with hot flashes, the mechanism is not completely understood, as evidenced by many women who supplement with estrogen but still suffer from hot flashes.