Progesterone Cream Use and Sore Breasts:
Will it make them Worse?
By Catherine Rollins - www.natural-progesterone-advisory-network.com
I am suffering from breast swelling and tenderness and have heard that natural
progesterone cream can help. I was looking into trying it but then I came across
a website that claimed natural progesterone contributes to fuller breasts by
inducing the release of hormones that prepare a woman to have a child, and breastfeed.
I am a little confused about this conflicting information. Can natural progesterone
cream help my breast soreness problems or will it only contribute to making them
more swollen and tender?
Thank you for writing to us. You know, by all accounts, breast pain is universal.
In fact, breast pain (or mastalgia) is the most common breast related complaint
among women. Nearly 70% of women experience breast pain at some point in their
Premenstrual breast pain is related to how the breast tissue responds to monthly
changes in a woman’s estrogen and progesterone hormone levels. If breast
pain is accompanied by lumpiness, cysts (accumulated packets of fluid), or areas
of thickness, the condition is usually called fibrocystic change. The breasts
may feel swollen, painful, tender, or lumpy a few days before menstruation. Breast
pain and swelling usually ends when menstruation is over.
According to Jerilynn Prior, M.D., a Canadian clinician, researcher, and professor
of endocrinology at the University of British Columbia, premenstrual breast tenderness
that occurs at the sides of the breast under the armpits suggests that ovulation
has occurred during that cycle. If the breasts are sore up front and over the
nipples, it tends to suggest high estrogen, or estrogen dominance, which can
indicate a lack of ovulation. Soreness on the sides and the front may indicate
that ovulation occurred but that not much progesterone was produced three or
four days after ovulation, and thus estrogen dominance is occurring.
Charting the occurrence of pain (and your stress levels) during your menstrual
cycle can help you get a clearer picture of what's going on.
Which hormone - estrogen or progesterone - is responsible for breast pain just
prior to a woman's menstrual cycle? Often progesterone is cited as the culprit
probably because breast tenderness is a symptom of the luteal phase when both
hormones are present in higher levels.
Dr John Lee, in his publication What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast
Cancer: How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life (by John R. Lee M.D., David
Zava, Virginia Hopkins), believed that painful and lumpy breasts of almost every
description are caused by estrogen dominance and can be helped with the use of
transdermal bioidentical progesterone over 2-3 cycles (where synthetic progestins
often make them worse).
The Johns Hopkins University conducted a 20 year study, published in 1983 in
the American Journal of Epidemiology, showing that women who had good progesterone
levels had less than a fifth of the amount of breast cancer, and less than a
tenth of all the cancers that occurred in women who were low in progesterone.
These outcomes suggest that having a normal level of progesterone protected women
from nine-tenths of all cancers that might otherwise have occurred.
Of course, women can experience non-cyclical breast pain, often in one specific
area of the breast(s). Non-cyclical pain is most common in women between 40 and
50 years of age. Usually, non-cyclical breast pain does not indicate breast cancer,
though women should discuss the condition with their physicians.
Breasts are a fantastic barometer to guide you with your hormonal balancing.
In fact, many women use sensations in their breasts to assess their progesterone
Our breasts tend to feel very 'full' or "swollen" when we're in a state
of estrogen dominance. When our progesterone (P) to estradiol (E2) levels are
in balance, this swelling and tenderness disappears, and our breasts feel 'unremarkable'
throughout our menstrual cycle.
Women who are highly stressed, or who have a high intake of caffeine may take
longer to respond.
Breast tissue is extremely vascular and, therefore, progesterone absorbs very
quickly into the blood stream and surrounding tissue. So try rubbing small amounts
of progesterone cream directly onto your breasts several times a day to target
breast tissue and oppose estrogen’s action in the body.
We can treat lumpy, painful breasts with 40 mg/day of transdermal bioidentical
progesterone for the first 2-3 months then, after the breasts revert to normal,
we can maintain optimal health using 20 mg/day. But every woman is different,
so we shouldn't be afraid to use more if we feel we need it.
Side effects of progesterone can include breast tenderness and swelling that,
according to antidotal evidence, disappear with the passage of time and dosage
Dr Jonathan V. Wright, in his January 2005 edition of Nutrition & Healing,
believes we can ease breast pain (and our risk of cancer) with a treatment of
Lugol's iodine (5% "di-atomic" and 10% saturated solution of potassium
iodide) which is swabbed on to the vaginal area (to target ovaries). This solution,
coupled with caffeine elimination can, according to Dr Wright, completely resolve
fibrocystic breast disease in a matter of months while increasing our levels
of estriol (estrogen ratio test).