Last week, we learned all about progesterone and acne how to tell if you have low progesterone.
Today we’re going to talk about how to treat low progesterone!
One of the most essential steps to getting your progesterone back on track is to lower your stress levels. Low progesterone is almost always partly caused by chronic stress. This is because your body makes the stress hormones out of progesterone.
This actually has its own nickname … “progesterone steal”.
So if your body is always in need of making stress hormones, then it’s just naturally going to deplete your progesterone. It’s a normal biological function, and that’s just how it is. Our bodies were designed to be under stress for only short bouts of time, but for so many of us, it’s our constant state of being.
So yes, getting stress under control is a big thing if your progesterone is low.
Also, just to note, stress isn’t always just emotional stress, which is what we tend to think of when the word is mentioned.
It can also be bodily stress, such as not sleeping enough, not eating enough calories (or heavily restricting certain food groups, making your diet imbalanced), exercising too hard too often, overload of toxins coming into the body, or from fighting off infection.
Caffeine also triggers cortisol, so you might need to let the coffee go.
Magnesium, B6, and Zinc
These three nutrients work together and are essential for your body to produce progesterone and be in hormonal balance. Many women who are deficient in progesterone are in part deficient because they are lacking these nutrients.
Stress, high alcohol consumption, blood sugar imbalances, the birth control pill, and low concentration in our modern food can lead to these deficiencies.
Ever find that you crave chocolate like a crazy person when you have PMS? It’s because cocoa is high in magnesium!
Making sure you’re eating foods high in these nutrients or supplementing them can really help with low progesterone, its symptoms, and hormonal acne.
Vitex Chaste Berry (Agnus Castus)
Vitex (sometimes referred to as Agnus Castus, or Chastetree Berry) is an herb that has a long history of use with women’s gynecological imbalances. We’ve already talked about it a few times on The Love Vitamin here and here.
Vitex doesn’t contain any hormone; instead, it naturally stimulates and supports your body to ovulate and make its own progesterone. I recommend taking it with the above nutrients since they are the building blocks of progesterone, and will support your body to make its own.
Vitex has a great track record of helping women with irregular or absent periods to ovulate and get a more regular cycle. Vitex has also shown in studies to have a very positive effect on PMS symptoms, particularly depression, headaches, acne, and breast tenderness.
It’s effectiveness kicks in slowly, so you really need to make sure you take it for at least three months to see if it works for you. You can take it for several months to over a year and then gradually lessen your dose to see if you are able to regulate without it.
Don’t take Vitex if you are on hormonal birth control as it might change the effectiveness.
Bio-identical Progesterone Cream
Another way to support your progesterone levels if they are low is to try bio-identical progesterone cream. Some people find this helps their acne immensely. You can use it for a few months and it will often help to “kick-start” your own natural progesterone production.
Bio-identical hormones are derived from natural substances that contain hormone-like substances. In the case of progesterone, it usually comes from wild yam.
They are then changed in a laboratory so that they are exactly the same molecular structure as your body’s natural hormones. This means your body receives them and uses them just like your own. This in in stark contrast to the synthetic hormones often prescribed at doctor’s offices.
If you want to give progesterone cream a try, you can get it from either a bio-identical friendly doctor, or you can buy it over the counter. Look for what is called “USP progesterone cream”. USP is the standard of purity and signifies that it is bio-identical.
Natural progesterone cream that contains straight disogenin from wild yams (from which bio-identical USP progesterone is made) is not the same thing. It is similar and may have benefits, but is not quite exactly the same as our body’s progesterone.
Also it’s best if you find one with all natural ingredients. Many progesterone creams contain chemical fillers, which are pointless because they contain xenoestrogens like most mainstream cosmetics! BeeYoutiful and Progestelle are good natural options that use coconut oil to suspend the progesterone instead of these chemical fillers.
My Progress with Low Progesterone
Last post I mentioned that I tested very low in progesterone when I did a saliva hormone test several months ago. To treat mine, I decided to start taking Vitex, just one pill per day, and had been doing so for five months or so. I’ve now weaned off it.
I also went on vacation for three months, so that definitely helped with my stress levels that were probably contributing to the problem!
Either way, I’ve noticed almost full resolution in my low progesterone symptoms. I’m sleeping way better, I don’t get that one big spot that I was getting right before my period, nor are my breasts sore at all. I also feel much less anxious. So there you go.
Check Out My Guide to Female Hormonal Acne
If you want a more in depth discussion about the above options; best way to use them; warnings and considerations, how to get your hormones tested as a great price, and much more, check out my ebook: The Love Vitamin’s Guide to Female Hormonal Acne. Thanks!
Hello Tracy! Firstly I have to thank you for the great job you have been doing for a long time on your site! It has been so helpful to me and others battling with the acne. Secondly I have found that being wheat/dairy free is the solution for me. For a long time, I though I was suffering hormonal acne. But it was the food creating this imbalance. So, I just stopped eating bad stuff and I don’t have acne anymore. Cheers
Hey m, that’s awesome 🙂 Glad to hear you found your solution. Yeah, acne is so confusing because hormones and of course hormonal acne is influenced by other factors – like diet, stress, etc. My first recommendation for hormonal acne is to clean up all these factors, but if you’re already doing that and still dealing with stubborn acne, then that’s when you can experiment with supplements etc to give you a helping hand
Wow, this is a perfect post, thank you for writing this! I’m still strugling with my acne now, but it got ao much better after ai got off the pill, thought it was the answer(alongside cutting out dairy), but now it’s back after 2 months being off of it. I think that my hormone levels needed time to recreate themselves, because my first period after being off the pill was amazing(no pain or acne), but now it’s back to how it used to be 2 years ago – incredibly painful so that I can barely walk, trembling, can’t eat anything. If this goes on, I probably will have to take a hormone test.
Not going to do the pill anymore, screwed with my system for 2 years already, at least I don’t get dizzy anymore when I get up from a sitting position for a long time, I think it had something to do with the pill, since it’s better now than it was a few months ago.
Just when I went off the pill I started taking vitex(been on it 2 months now) and DIM, not seeing any benefits really.
Hi Mimijona! Really sorry to hear you’re suffering x Work on fixing up your diet and lifestyle and really support your body in all ways to help you balance your hormones. With the DIM… what brand and how much are you taking?
Thanks, been off dairy for 6 months now, 1 month off gluten and recently went full on vegan (ethical reasons). So mostly I eat fruit, veggies, nuts and dried fruit, some grains, but not often. I just started uni, so the lifestyle part is quite off, feeling stressed and tired, struggling to get enough sleep.
I take Nature’s Way DIM 2 capsules as it’s recommended on the packaging, because that was the only one I could find that would be shipped cheaply to where I live(Eastern EU). But I’ve seen a plain DIM powder on ebay, maybe I should try that..?
I have PCOS. I knew about my high testosterone levels, but just recently I figured out I probably have low progesterone as well.
I’ve gone through a lot (like many others!); birth control pills, roaccutane, peelings, salicylic acid, azelaic acid, etc, etc…
A year ago (after reading lots of thelovevitamin ^^!) I quit birth control pills, quit obsessively washing my face- but I also stressed out about food way too much.
Well, I won’t bore you with my long story, so I just want to say- I’ve been taking saw palmetto and agnus castus for about a month now. Only wash my face with water. I drink lots of green tea, and I’m not too strict with my diet anymore, but I do avoid processed foods. Exercise is important, getting enough sleep, relaxing…
My skin is not 100% smooth but it is SO much better. I have a few red marks left, not very visible though. I still get one or two zits on my chin now and then, but I don’t mind.
It is important to remember that no one is perfect. Also, sounds cheesy, but life is short, and you don’t want to spend hours and hours worrying about something that in the end won’t be important in the future. Fifty years from now, when I’m full of wrinkles, I don’t want to think “I wish I had spent more time doing things with my awesome young body instead of looking at every imperfection I had all the time”. Think about it 🙂 If you have acne, it’s easy to obsess about it, I know it, I really do.
Oh, and I’m using a natural progesterone cream too, forgot to mention!
Hey Isabel, that’s awesome! I’m stoked to hear how much progress you’ve made 🙂 And I TOTALLY agree about life being short and that no one is ever going to look back and wish they had spent MORE time worrying about acne. It’s so hard to remember that in the moment, but it’s true!
Hi, Thanks for the post, Tracy.
I’m late to the party, but I hoped someone could weigh in on the Gaia Brand vitex cactus. Has anyone had any experiences with this brand?
Also, does it matter when in your cycle you begin vitex cactus? I do not want to disrupt my cycle by delaying or encouraging it to begin earlier. Is it best to begin the supplements the first day of your period?
Thanks a lot!
As far as I know, it is a really good brand that I do recommend. I’m not sure about when to start it in your cycle, I have never worried about it personally
Your website has given me so much information into my acne! I am interested in taking a saliva hormone test and I was wondering if you can recommend any? I am not sure if I would like to do an at home test or see a ND , but if you are able to recommend any that would help me move forward in my choice.
I have been taking Estroblock for maybe 8 months but recently stopped because I am trying to conceive and I want to make sure (by getting a saliva test) what my hormones are doing before I continue taking and hinder my chances conceiving. Estroblock works great, but occasionally I will have a huge break out (cystic) and usually when that happens I add a Milk Thistle supplement and it clears me up!
Thank you for all of your wisdom, it has helped many!
Hey JeanBean, you can call the peeps that make Estroblock, the Delgado Protocol, and get a saliva hormone test through them
Hello! I’m currently using progesterone cream to offset my high estrogen. I’ve switched back & forth, from using it all month long – to using it only for the two weeks leading up to my period. It seems that since switching to the two week use, I’ve experienced a high occurrence of cyclic acne. Do you think that, in my case, it might be beneficial to use the cream all month long? The only side effect I’ve noticed in doing so, seems to be short periods that occur about every two weeks. :/
This is fantastic information. I have been struggling for years with acne and pills and side effects etc etc…a total nightmare. I stopped taking my pill 9 months ago and have suffered from very painful cystic acne for the last three months. i finally found a fantastic doctor who was willing to do that saliva test with me and shockingly we discovered that m body was produced no progesterone only 2% of the normal production at my age (27). I am now on a plan to take Agnus Castus and in two months start with the wild yam cream. I am also taking Hormatrix, this is to remove any of the remaining artificial hormones from my body that are blocking normal hormone production occurring naturally within my body. I know that after many years of taking the pill these hormones can linger in the body for a long time after so perhaps look into Hormatrix for those in the same position as I am. Thank you for the post, I agree with everything you have said and im delighted people like you are spreading around the right informations that will really help people recover from such uncomfortable issues. x
Hi Tracy! My case is a little different from previous commenters but I was wondering if I could get some help with it. I’m 17 years old and have been on a very low estrogen birth control for about a year now. Earlier on I was on high estrogen pills like beyaz but unfortunately I had bad mental side effects from them, so my dr. prescribed the option with the lowest estrogen dose possible. Before the pill, I had moderate to severe acne that, in its earlier days, was caused by puberty and then later by hormone imbalances during my cycle. After being on the pill for about six to seven months, my acne completely cleared. The surface of my skin was clog free and not at all oily and the tone had evened out. However, as we venture into the winter months I’ve noticed that each month about a week before my cycle I get a breakout. At first it was mild enough to not even notice but every month it has gotten a little worse – last month I had my first cystic pimple in months and this month I have two. Since I take very good care of the surface of my skin, and since the surface is always very smooth and clean, I’ve realized that it must be coming from within. From this article I’ve realized I experience almost all of the low progesterone symptoms listed which would make perfect sense. Now all I have to do is balance it out but I don’t exactly know where to start. I am still on the pill and intend to continue it and am also taking 20 mg of vyvanse, an adhd medication. I am very interested in giving the zinc, magnesium, and b6 combo a go as I feel it would really improve my imbalance. Do these supplements interfere/cause reactions with any other medications? How much approximately would you reccomend that I should start taking of each? It would be a tremendous help if you could give me literally any information that you can so I can hopefelly start my journey to a clear face. Thank you!!
this is to bridget. I would love to hear any answers you received from this. Same questions here. Taking birth control pills but want to add zinc, mag, and b6 to help with the progesterone symptoms.
I took vitex for two and a half months (usually took it most days, maybe off a day or two, and sometimes I forgot to stop taking it on my period) and I broke out horrendously so I stopped. I was too afraid to keep going, but now I wonder if I should have just stuck with it to see if it worked. I was too scared of terrible scarring from how bad it was getting.
My acne is cystic around my chin and mouth like a beard/mustache. I have done so many things to try to heal it… stress relief, quality diet, supplements, off pills etc. I can’t think of what to do next.
Love your site. I was recently told (from a blood test) that I have low progesterone and low cortisol AND low(er) estrogen. Testosterone is on the higher side. I would LOVE to take Vitex and Saw Palmetto, but am wondering if they interfere at all with estrogen levels as much as oral birth control does?When I went on hormonal birth control at 17, I got a blood clot within 2 weeks. So am more cautious now!