Pregnenolone Steal – When the body is in a period of continued stress, it will make cortisol a priority over progesterone.

Pregnenolone Steal – When the body is in a period of continued stress, it will make cortisol a priority over progesterone.

Progesterone is an incredibly beneficial hormone, and most women could do with more if it.

It is commonly thought of as the hormone that regulates menstruation and supports pregnancy but in fact it does so much more for women and is an important hormone for general health.

Progesterone acts on the breasts and uterus, so it is essential for healthy reproduction and periods. It also acts on your brain, immune system, and detoxification enzymes.

Benefits of progesterone

  • Boosts energy by stimulating the thyroid and heating up metabolism.
  • Stabilises communication between the hypothalamus and adrenal glands
  • Soothes mood and rescues sleep
  • Progesterone also up-regulates the DAO enzyme and so relieves the anxiety symptoms of histamine intolerance
  • Stimulates sleep centres in the brain and is essential treatment for premenstrual and perimenopausal insomnia
  • Nourishes hair and clears skin because it reduces male hormones (androgens) by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase
  • Lightens periods by counteracting oestrogen’s stimulating effect on the uterine lining
  • Prevents autoimmune disease because it modulates immune function, reduces inflammation, and up-regulates detoxification enzymes
  • Builds bones and muscle by stimulating osteoblasts (bone-building cells) and the growth of new muscle.
  • Protects against cancer by counteracting oestrogen’s stimulating effect on breast and uterine tissue

However, because we are living in a time where everything is a stressor the body becomes flooded with cortisol. This contributes to: Pregnenolone Steal, a key piece of physiology that, whilst the medical model knows about, they don’t work with.

Pregnenolone Steal explained:

Our adrenal glands make some progesterone and oestrogen/testosterone.

Cholesterol makes pregnenolone, a precursor hormone

We make cholesterol from fat, which is why a diet rich in healthy fats is essential.

Pregnenolone goes onto make progesterone, unless when the body is in a period of continued stress, where it will make cortisol a priority over progesterone. This is called pregnenolone steal, which is a misnomer because cortisol is not stealing progesterone, rather the body is prioritising stress hormones over reproductive hormones.

It is more important when we are in crisis to be able to run away than prepare the womb for a baby.

If stress continues women end up without the calming hormone progesterone and menstrual cycle and hormone issues follow. When this happens we end up tired and exhausted, wired, and racy, sugar cravings, digestive problems, colds, and bugs, sleeping difficulties, increased blood sugars and high blood pressure, headaches, weight gain or loss, hot or cold, low sex drive, irregular or scanty periods, fertility problems.

Causes of low progesterone

  • Pregnenolone steal / stress (as above)
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Oestrogen dominance
  • Undereating
  • Over exercising
  • Perimenopause
  • Low thyroid function

Signs of Progesterone deficiency

Progesterone may be low if ovulation is not occurring regularly (or at all), or if the body cannot produce enough progesterone.

Symptoms include:

  • Long or heavy periods
  • Spotting before your period
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Short menstrual cycles due to a short luteal phase (4,10)
  • Some conditions, such as elevated prolactin (a hormone that induces milk production), hypothyroidism, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can cause infrequent or absent ovulation, which would lead to low progesterone levels

Physical signs of progesterone deficiency:
• Short luteal phase, the time between ovulation and your period. It should be at least 11 days.
• Low temperatures in the luteal phase.
• Fertile mucus in the luteal phase.
• Premenstrual spotting.

Conditions associated with progesterone deficiency:
• PCOS
• heavy periods
• fibroids
• acne
• hair loss
• endometriosis
• autoimmune disease

• premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
• premenstrual migraines
• infertility
• perimenopause
• menopause
• osteoporosis
• primary ovarian failure

 

Symptoms of high cortisol

  • Weight gain — particularly around stomach, upper back, and face
  • Fatigue
  • Getting sick often
  • Acne
  • Thinning hair
  • Bruising and slow wound healing
  • Weak bones
  • Muscle weakness
  • Low sex drive
  • Unstable blood sugar
  • Irregular periods
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Difficulty concentrating

 

Helen’s recommendations:

Visit the clinic and book in for a BEES Balance and a NOURISH treatment.

B – Biochemical

E – Emotional

E – Electrical

S – Structural

Refer to my: SERVICES page for therapy descriptions and then BOOK ONLINE – choose the view more button to see the current availability.

 

In addition, here are some tips.

Biochemical realm:

Sleep

Ensure you have good quality sleep for at least 8 hours per night. Make sure your bedroom is pitch-black bedroom with black out curtains, no lights such as TVs or alarm clocks and turn your phone off.

Caffeine

If you are under stress, minimise or avoid caffeine as this will put additional pressure on the adrenals. Caffeine is acceptable as a drink in the morning if your stress is under control. 

Carbohydrates

If you are struggling to sleep through the night because of stress or blood sugar instability, have carbohydrates in your evening meal and a bedtime snack of a fat and carbohydrate. 

Daylight / Night

Our pineal gland needs to see natural light every day so even if its cloudy or rainy, make sure you get outside every day. Reduce screen time in the evening so the pineal gland is not stimulated.

 

Emotional realm:

Emotional Stress Release

Make time to discuss your stresses and hold ESR points (frontal eminences) to release stuck emotions from the brain. 

Electrical realm:

Water – Ensure you are well hydrated with 2 litres of water per day.

 

Structural realm:

Exercise

The stress hormone, cortisol which is produced during exercise is at its highest in the morning and falls throughout the day. To work with our natural rhythms, we should be doing cardiovascular exercise in the morning / afternoon and doing light exercise, such as swimming, walking or yoga in the evening. Avoid strenuous exercise such as running in the evening which will cause a build-up of cortisol at the wrong end of the day. 

If you have any questions – reach out to me directly: helen@helenmchugh.co.uk.

Best wishes,

 

Helen

 

 

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