I regularly get emails from Hormonology readers who complain about premenstrual anxiety symptoms and ask me if over-the-counter progesterone cream can help. After all, progesterone is a sedating hormone that has a calming effect, they reason. But, I always have the same answer: Don’t use the progesterone cream.
The problem is that, like all hormones, progesterone is a powerful chemical that can impact your mood, health and behavior in many ways–and not all of them good. There are risks that come from taking any supplemental hormone–whether it’s a prescription pill, patch or ring or in a jar found on the shelf at your drugstore. For example, progesterone cream can trigger irregular bleeding, altered menstrual cycles and depression. So, any time you use hormones, it must be when under the supervision of a qualified medical professional who has been specifically trained to treat patients with hormones. This is someone who can test your hormone levels so she or he can be sure you’re getting a therapeutic dose without causing health problems or exacerbating existing ones.
So, if I’m taking progesterone cream off the table, what then can help ease premenstrual anxiety? Here’s something to try: One study in the Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-Based Medicine found that taking a combination of 200 mg. of magnesium and 50 mg. of vitamin B6 daily can lead to a significant reduction in anxiety as well as nervous tension, irritability and mood swings in your premenstrual days.
While both nutrients have been shown on their own to help reduce these bothersome premenstrual symptoms (magnesium has a relaxing effect and vitamin B6 prompts a greater output of the mood-regulating brain chemical serotonin), the researchers leading this study found that when combined, they have a synergistic effect that makes them even more effective.
It takes 30 days of daily supplementation for the anxiety-busting effects to kick in, so a little patience is needed. But, if you’ve been dealing with premenstrual anxiety cycle after cycle for months or even years, the short wait will be worth it.
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Gabrielle Lichterman is a longtime women’s health and lifestyle journalist whose articles have appeared in dozens of major magazines and newspapers around the globe including Cosmopolitan, CosmoGIRL, Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Daily News and Woman’s World. Gabrielle began developing Hormonology and the Hormone Horoscope in 1999 and has been sharing menstrual cycle-related research and tips through her apps, blog, book, newsletter and magazine articles ever since. Learn more at MyHormonology.com.
[Photo: Take Back Your Health Conference]