Progesterone is a hormone that has been around for about 500 million years. That makes it the oldest hormone around.
It’s essential to all vertebrates: fishes, reptiles, birds and mammals – including humans. It has countless functions in both sexes and all ages.
This vital hormone plays a major role in the body. It is not exclusively a female hormone . It plays no part in the secondary sexual characteristics which develop at puberty. It is the precursor to the hormones oestrogen and testosterone.
It is secreted primarily by the ovaries in females and the testes in men. Smaller amounts are produced by the adrenal glands, the brain and glial cells in both sexes.
There are no great quantitative differences between men and women (at least outside the luteal phase).
William Allen and George Corner first isolated ‘Progestational Steroidal Ketone’ (these are the words that fully describe the hormone and which are the source of its commonly used name) in 1934 and proposed the name because of its “progestational” activity in the pregnant female. This was an unfortunate choice of name as it has now come to be regarded as a ‘female’ hormone, and it’s many other roles having been largely forgotten.
It was not until 1943 that Russell Marker made progesterone from the plant steroid diosgenin. Originally he used the Mexican wild yam (dioscorea villosa) as a source plant. However, diosgenin has now been found in many other plants, including the spice fenugreek and the soya bean.
There is much confusion in the minds of both the public and the professions between progesterone on the one hand, and the progestins or progestogens and “yam extracts” on the other.
Let me clear the confusion for you.
Progesterone is made in your body from cholesterol. Here are the essentials of the process…
Of course progesterone has many other roles within the body such as normalizing blood sugar levels, boosting thyroid function, it helps us use fat for energy instead of storing it, it also has anti-inflammatory effects and reduces swelling and inflammation.