Wild yam and natural progesterone creams
Wild yam and progesterone creams are available without a prescription and are marketed for relieving perimenopausal symptoms caused by "estrogen dominance." Some women report finding relief with these products.
Progesterone creams. Some women use "natural" progesterone creams to correct low progesterone levels. Research is mixed about whether the cream is absorbed into the body.
- One small study suggests that over-the-counter progesterone cream is about as well absorbed as a prescription progesterone capsule.3
- Some research, using Progest cream, has shown that only small amounts of progesterone are actually absorbed into the body.4
Concerns about progesterone cream use
You cannot actually know how much progesterone you are getting without having a whole-blood progesterone test. Because of this and the following concerns, some experts are concerned about use of over-the-counter progesterone cream.3
- If it is absorbing well.Progesterone treatment has risks. It has been linked to headaches and dangerous blood clots in a small number of women.3 This is why progesterone is usually a prescription hormone and is not safe for women with certain health risks.
- If it is not absorbing well. If you are taking estrogen (and have an intact uterus), you also need to have enough progesterone to prevent the estrogen from causing uterine (endometrial) cancer. Using a poorly absorbed progesterone cream while taking estrogen does not protect you from uterine cancer.4
- Dog TL, et al. (2001). An integrative approach to menopause. Alternative Therapies, 7(4): 45–55.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2001, reaffirmed 2006). Use of botanicals for management of menopausal symptoms. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 28. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 97(6, Suppl): 1–11.
- Hermann AC, et al. (2005). Over-the-counter progesterone cream produces significant drug exposure compared to a Food and Drug Administration-approved oral progesterone product. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 45(6): 614–619.
- Cooper A, et al. (1998). Systemic absorption of progesterone from Progest cream in post-menopausal women. Lancet, 351(9111): 1255–1256.
Last Updated: May 16, 2008