Progesterone, the Super-Powered Super Hero

Have you ever noticed how many storybook and movie characters have super powers? I mean it’s like there’s a super power for everyone. There are so many super powers that we now have super heroes. Spiderman can scale buildings; Superman can fly faster than a speeding bullet; The Fairy Godmother can grant wishes; The Wicked Witch of the West can “get you, my pretty Dorothy ... and Toto, too.”

The list of super powers and super heroes is endless.

Have you ever though about what you’d choose as a super power if you could have one? Would you want to be able to fly, become invisible, switch genders?

What if you were a hormone? What kind of super power would you want then?

In general, hormones are a lot like people. They have typical personalities and predictable functions. You can count on them to behave in the same manner all the time. They’re not super heroes with super powers any more than people are. By virtue of their chemical structure, they’re sort of locked in to their typical behavior, and they do their jobs routinely and predictably.

Their predictability makes figuring out which hormone is causing your symptoms fairly easy. And once you know which hormone is the culprit, you can tweak it to correct the problem.

Estrogen is your female hormone. It makes your skin soft, your body curvy, your hair lush and long, your bones dense, your vagina moist, and your boobs ... boobs. Without it, your skin gets dry and wrinkled, your curves become boxy, your hair thins and weakens, you bones become brittle, your vagina gets dry and itchy, and your boobs bob.

Testosterone is your male hormone. And it does some of the same things for you that it does for a man. It gives you your muscle mass, your energy, your sex drive, and your ability to have an orgasm. Without it, you lack energy, you have no interest in sex, an orgasm is hard to achieve, and your muscles become flaccid. (When a man doesn’t have it, his ding-a-ling becomes flaccid. I guess you could say he transforms from Superman to The Fairy Godmother!)

And then there’s progesterone.

Progesterone, though, is a hormone of a different color. Or maybe you could say it has a personality disorder. If you’re a real optimist, you could say it’s a super-hero with super powers.

Progesterone is the hormone of pregnancy. The word, “Pro-gester-one” means “in support of pregnancy.” (“Pro” – in support of, “Gest” = gestation, or pregnancy, “One” = hormone.)

Now, most of us don’t consider pregnancy to be a time when we feel our very best. Your breasts hurt, you gain weight, you’re bloated, you’re moody, you have goofy cravings, you feel fatigued and drowsy, and you’re depressed. And progesterone is largely responsible for all that.

Progesterone is also the PMS (Pre-menstrual Syndrome) hormone. I know, I know. You’re groaning right now. PMS isn’t exactly pleasant, either, is it? The bloated feeling, breast pain, irritability, mood swings, and headaches you had before your periods and turned into the Wicked Witch of the West were all due to the actions of our “super-powered” progesterone.

So you might be wondering why in the world I’d call progesterone “a super-powered super hero” when it causes all these yucky symptoms.

Well, I don’t think of it as “super-powered” because of these things. I think of it a “super-powered” in spite of these things.

The fact is that, although progesterone has a pretty unsavory personality, it can change its personality! In fact, it can convert itself into estrogen and testosterone!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I consider that to be a super power of sorts. Not enough to make it a super hero, but a super power nonetheless.

As you know from fairy tales and movies, super powers can be good or bad. It all depends on the circumstance.

The Wicked Witch has the enviable ability to fly on her magic broom ... until the broom gets wet and causes her to melt.

Superman can rescue you until he comes into contact with kryptonite, which strips him of his powers.

So progesterone is like a chameleon. It can change its colors. It can become more female or more male.

That’s a good thing when it transforms itself in a way that balances your hormones. It’s a bad thing when it transforms itself in a way that upsets your hormones.

It’s great if you can predict what progesterone will do in any given situation. It isn’t if you can’t.

But there’s one thing about progesterone that is an absolute super power no matter what. Progesterone prevents uterine cancer, and it’s the only of these three hormones that can do that. It may be unpredictable; it may produce some yucky symptoms; it may not behave as you’d like it to all the time.

But the fact that it prevents uterine cancer trumps all that. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s a power super enough to negate all its shortcomings and make it a true super hero!

This article, written by Dr. Barbara Taylor,  was first published on, on February 22nd 2017.

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