As women go through perimenopause, their levels of hormones like estradiol and progesterone decrease significantly. A recent study suggests that higher levels of progesterone are linked to better mental health and resilience during this phase of life. Women with higher progesterone levels during perimenopause experienced higher life satisfaction, lower stress, and fewer depressive symptoms.
Correspondingly, women with low progesterone levels seem to no longer benefit from this protective mental health function. This means that it's especially important for women to take care of their mental health during perimenopause, and that low levels of progesterone may be contributing to mood issues such as anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
During perimenopause, women may experience a decline in the hormone progesterone. Recent research suggests that low progesterone levels during perimenopause may be associated with mood issues such as depression and anxiety. Progesterone is important for regulating the body's response to stress and it helps to maintain a healthy mood. When progesterone levels are low, women may be more sensitive to stress and have a higher risk of mental health challenges. Resilient women appear to be those who show a gradual decline rather than a drastic drop in progesterone levels during perimenopause.
Perimenopause, the transition from reproductive to non-reproductive life, can be a challenging time for women. While fluctuations in estrogen levels have been studied extensively, less is known about the role of progesterone in this process. Recent research suggests that progesterone, a hormone that naturally declines during perimenopause, may play a key role in promoting resilience and mental health during this phase of life.
Studies show that women with higher levels of progesterone are more resilient and experience higher levels of life satisfaction, lower perceived stress, and lower depressive symptoms than women with lower levels. This may be due to progesterone's stress-buffering effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the primary central stress response system. Progesterone's metabolites also appear to downregulate the HPA axis, which helps to return to baseline following stress. Progesterone also appears to increase oxytocin, which inhibits the stress-induced activity of the HPA axis.
As many women have experienced across their reproductive lives, increases in progesterone play a mood stabilizing role, while drops in progesterone play a role in premenstrual syndrome and postpartum depression. This research suggests that a drastic drop in progesterone levels during perimenopause can leave women more vulnerable to mental health challenges.
While this research sheds light on the importance of progesterone in promoting resilience and mental health during perimenopause, there are limitations to consider. The findings are based on associations, and self-reports were used to assess psychosocial variables. Also, since progesterone levels naturally decline over perimenopause, the study assumes that the progesterone levels assessed have already declined relative to the women’s (unobserved) premenopausal progesterone levels.
In conclusion, progesterone may be considered the hormone of resilience during perimenopause. Women who experience a less drastic drop in progesterone levels during this phase of life seem to benefit from progesterone's stress-buffering and mood-stabilizing effects. By understanding the importance of progesterone in promoting resilience and mental health during perimenopause, we can better support women during this important life transition.