As you probably know, your body makes smaller quantities of estrogen and progesterone as you age. During menopause, symptoms from lower hormone levels cause stress, anxiety, and just not feeling quite right. In fact, these symptoms can be so severe and last so long that they drive many women to hormone therapy. Some choose synthetic hormones, some opt for bioidentical hormones, and some prefer herbs and creams. Each has their pros and cons. But there’s another solution. It works, it has no side effects, and it costs nothing but a little of your time.
The proof comes from a study conducted at the University of Michigan and published in the peer-reviewed journal Hormones and Behavior. Past research showed that higher levels of progesterone increased a woman’s desire to feel closer to others. But this recent study was the first one to show the opposite effect: Bonding with other people increased women’s progesterone levels.
Simply put, this means that when you spend time with a close friend, it triggers the production of progesterone. Without taking anything. What’s more, it looks like this has a dose-related effect.
The first week the study participants spent time playing a computerized cooperative card game with another person. The researchers found that their progesterone levels either stayed the same or increased a little.
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After the second week, their progesterone increased more, their cortisol levels (which can cause anxiety) decreased, and they were willing to make sacrifices for the other person. They also experienced less anxiety and stress.
So if you want to boost your progesterone, do what I do. Spend some time every week with a friend. It doesn’t matter what you do: talk over coffee or tea, go for a walk, shop together, or play a game of cards. This is not a waste of time. It’s medicine for your emotions — and your body.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
University of Michigan (2009, June 3). “Feeling Close to a Friend Increases Progesterone, Boosts Well-being and Reduces Anxiety and Stress.” ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 4, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com; Hormones and Behavior, June 2009.