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Natural progesterone would seem like the perfect remedy for PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). After all, oral contraceptives containing relatively high amounts of progesterone are used to treat PCOS. Progesterone is especially useful for relieving the tendency to gain weight. And since formulations of the Pill that contain less progesterone are used to treat headaches, mood swings, and breast pain, it only seems logical that since "natural" is usually taken to be synonymous with safer, gentler, and slower, natural progesterone would be just the thing to treat PCOS. There is just one problem with this idea. Most "natural" progesterone isn't natural at all. In fact, many products, especially those made in countries without a tradition of product safety or consumer protection, combine dried herbs with ground up birth control pills, often in a dangerous strength.

And if the "progesterone" in the product really is "natural," it isn't progesterone. In the 1930's, scientists found an easy way to synthesize progesterone from diosgenin, a chemical found in a Mexican yam. Diosgenin is chemically similar to progesterone, and it can be extracted from the yam and turned into progesterone in just a few steps in the lab. These involve baking the yam to dry it out and washing out the diosgenin with acetone, the same toxic chemical used in nail polish remover. The human body cannot bake Mexican yam, and it certainly cannot wash out their chemicals with acetone. The diosgenin in the herb is not transformed into anything the human body can use. Even if the manufacturer says the yam has been micronized so it is easily absorbed, that only means your body can take up useful ingredients all the more quickly. Just say no to "natural" progesterone. The best that will happen is that you will waste your money. The worst that will happen is that you take ground up birth control pills that can undo years of treatment.

Dr. J. T. Hargrove of Vanderbilt University is often cited as the lead researcher in a study of herbal progesterone in the treatment of menopause. This is simply a lie. He and his research team studied the role of micronized (finely ground) synthetic estrogen and progesterone in treating women's issues that do not include PCOS. If you hear of women who do better on natural progesterone than they were doing birth control pills, that is only because they are better off with no treatment at all. Nothing, absolutely nothing of value is to be found in natural progesterone products for women with menstrual irregularity, infertility, PCOS, or any other hormonal condition.

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