Is progesterone cream a viable natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy?

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Menopause is often a dreaded time for women due to its many uncomfortable symptoms including the most reviled -- hot flashes. Honestly, who wants a semi-sleepless night of repeatedly tossing away covers after waking up drenched in sweat only to be reaching for those blankets minutes later when the hot flash passes? Beyond temperature changes, there are psychological effects and vaginal dryness. With all that, it's easy to see why many menopausal women are moody, emotional and distressed. Really, it's no wonder women experiencing these changes are often scouring the market for any product that might provide comfort and relief. That's where progesterone cream comes in.

When a woman is menopausal, certain hormone levels like progesterone start to decline. This imbalance sets off a whole list of reactions within the body. For those wishing to avoid pills that can come with a long list of possible side effects, they may want to check out alternatives such as progesterone cream. This cream is considered by many as a natural alterative to hormone replacement therapy, supposedly yielding less side effects than the synthetic pills [source: Chustecka].

Natural progesterone cream is most commonly made from an extract found in the Mexican wild yam. Reportedly, this extract can be converted into a molecule that takes on the exact same chemical form as a progesterone molecule. According to those who support this therapy, effective creams contain at least 400 mg of progesterone per ounce [source: Whole Health MD]. However, others contend that creams made from wild yam do not contain progesterone and therefore do not yield any of the purported benefits of topical progesterone therapy [Parks].

What does progesterone do after it's absorbed into you body? What are the good and bad effects of using a progesterone cream? And what can it do for menopausal women? Read on to find out. First up, let's take a look at progesterone at work in your body.