The case for progesterone

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Jun:1052:152-69. doi: 10.1196/annals.1347.011.


Recent clinical trials in hormone therapy (HT) for women approaching or past menopause have been disappointing. Most women who have been taking conjugated equine estrogens combined with synthetic progestins have been encouraged to stop these supplements because of increased health risks. The results of the clinical trials may be accurate about the risks associated with the synthetic compounds and combinations, but the data do not reflect what might have been the case if 17beta-estradiol had been tested with natural progesterone instead of synthetic medroxyprogesterone acetate. For the most part, in almost all work on HT, estrogens have been given the primary focus despite the fact that progesterone has important properties that can enhance the repair of neurodegenerative and traumatic injuries to the central nervous system. This article reviews some of those properties and discusses the evidence suggesting that, if HT is to be reconsidered, progesterone should be given more attention as a potent neurotrophic agent that may play an important role in reducing or preventing motor, cognitive, and sensory impairments that can accompany senescence in both males and females.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries / drug therapy
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Cognition Disorders / prevention & control
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / adverse effects
  • Estrogens, Conjugated (USP) / administration & dosage
  • Estrogens, Conjugated (USP) / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / prevention & control
  • Progesterone / therapeutic use*
  • Progestins / administration & dosage
  • Progestins / adverse effects


  • Estrogens, Conjugated (USP)
  • Progestins
  • Progesterone