Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

November 11, 2016

The Hormone Game Changer

Rescue your hormones with this simple miracle.

Over 75% of all women suffer from hormone havoc directly or indirectly related to progesterone deficiency. With these kind of staggering numbers, I bet now you’re asking yourself if you’re one of them.

Do any of the following frustrating symptoms apply to you?

• The inability to lose weight
• Anxiety
• Insomnia
• Mood Swings
• Lack of libido
• Nervousness
• Osteopenia and Osteoporosis
• Pain
• Depression
• Inflammation

Whether you’re celebrating your 30th birthday, an expectant mother, or are beginning to experience the first signs of the “change,” it’s critical to balance estrogen with progesterone. If you’re one of the many women experiencing the side effects of progesterone deficiency, now you may be wondering why this happened.

You may not be producing enough progesterone because…

1. You are deficient in zinc and vitamin B6, nutrient precursors of progesterone.
2. You are not ovulating regularly, leaving you without a corpus luteum to create progesterone in the first place.
3. Your body is converting progesterone into cortisol as a result of stress.

These days, more and more women are turning to natural methods of hormone therapy.

Natural plant-based progesterone has the same identical structure as the progesterone a woman makes naturally in her body. The physiological dose of 20 mg per day can help improve libido, enhance the immune system, increase hair on the scalp, elevate the metabolic rate with resulting weight loss, act as a natural diuretic, boost the thyroid, and stimulate the production of bone while relaxing smooth muscles and promoting the strength of the myelin sheath.

ProgestaKey was the formula I developed over twenty years ago derived from wild yam and is considered by many to be the best product on the market. It is preservative-free with a delightful scent from lavender essential oil. Depending upon your age and stage of life, there are different protocols, but in general the topical crème should be applied to the face, hands, chest, inner arms, and thyroid area. Rotate these as much as possible so that one area doesn’t get too saturated.

If you’re ready to balance your body back to health, but still have some questions, do read on for the most commonly asked questions about this natural product that’s became a staple for so many women.

Q: How do I know if I need ProgestaKey?
A: In many women, progesterone deficiency can manifest as PMS and difficult menses, mood swings and depression, low fertility, forgetfulness, hot flashes, night sweats, weak and brittle bones. If you relate to any of those symptoms, you may benefit from using ProgestaKey.

Q: Can I use this with other HRT?
A: Yes, though it may be a good idea evaluate your hormone levels with a Salivary Hormone Test. Also, if using hormonal contraceptives, please use back up method of birth control.

Q: My doctor put me on estrogen HRT. Should I stop that when I start ProgestaKey?
A: Please do not discontinue any prescriptions without first discussing with your doctor. Many women experience relief from most of the negative hormonal symptoms simply by adding progesterone, so ProgestaKey may be all you need to alleviate your symptoms. Best to discuss with your doctor.

Q: Do I have to use this forever?
A: Progesterone is important for many aspects of health in women of all ages- managing PMS and heavy cycles, mood swings, optimizing fertility, reducing hot flashes and night sweats, supporting bone health. You may use ProgestaKey long term, or just as long as you want to help manage symptoms.

Q: Do I need to rotate the sight of application?
A: Yes, we recommend rotating the site of application every week to prevent saturating the progesterone receptors in your skin. For instance, week one apply to chest and neck, week two to abdomen, week three to inner arms and inner thighs.

Q: My cycle is irregular. How do I decide when to start and stop ProgestaKey?
A: It’s common for a woman’s cycle to be as short as 20 days and as long as 40. Day 1 of your cycle is considered the first day of menstruation. The basic instructions for menstruating women advise using the crème from day 12 to 26. If your menses begins before day 26, simply stop using the crème when it begins, and resume again on day 12. If your menses is still happening by day 12, still begin using the crème as scheduled. If you experience spotting, stick to the regular schedule. If the spotting is so prevalent that you can’t discern your true menses, simply use the crème for two weeks each month and keep consistent to that schedule.
Q: I’ve had a hysterectomy. How should I use ProgestaKey?
A: Please follow the directions for menopausal women, applying the crème for 25 consecutive days and then taking a 5 day break.

Q: I want to do the salivary hormone test. Can I still use ProgestaKey?
A: To achieve an accurate reading, we recommend abstaining from the crème for at least 3-5 days prior to collecting your saliva sample. Menstruating women should collect their saliva on days 19, 20, or 21 of their cycle, so consider skipping ProgestaKey all together that cycle. Menopausal women can collect their saliva any day of the month, so aim to do so on the final day of the 5 day break from ProgestaKey.

Q: Should I wash my hands after applying ProgestaKey?
A: Yes, especially if you have contact with children, pets, or loved ones.

Q: I’ve had cancer. Can I still use ProgestaKey?
A: It is impossible for us to know, so we encourage you to speak to your health care provider about the potential benefits of naturally derived progesterone.

ProgestaKey is clearly one of my favorite things. I’ve also compiled a list of my other favorite things that I really want to share with you—including supplements, cosmetics, clothes, books, and more! Do check them out here and enjoy!

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Karen

    I just found out my thyroid is underperforming and that also deals with a hormone and metabolism. Is there anything I can do naturally or will I need meds for life?

    My sister has been on meds for 35 yrs and my mom. Is it heredity and perscription the only solution. Thanks

  2. Team ALG

    Dear Karen: Thanks for your post. Hypothyroidism can be due to a number of factors: lack of iodine, gluten sensitivity, and even poor bile quality. To really explore this in more detail, you are welcome to contact Ann Louise’s office: [email protected]. Thank you!!

  3. Sophie

    Thank you for this excellent blog. I have used ProgestaKey with good results and relief of many symptoms. I have great confidence in the product as it was developed by you!

    Two questions if you please:
    1. Can ProgestaKey be used by teen girls especially if their symptoms are unresolved by proper diet and supplements?
    2. I am hearing more and more about something called pyroluria which is supposed to cause low levels of B6 and Zinc? Can you shed some light on this disorder and do you believe it might be the cause of progesterone deficiency in some folks?
    Thanks Ann Louise!

    • Ann Louise Gittleman

      Dear Sophie:

      Thank you for your post. 1) Yes, ProgestaKey can be used by teens especially if they have irregular menses, short menses, or menstruate every 24 days or so. 2) Pyroluria is a metabolic condition which can underlie autism, ADD, and even severe anxiety or the inability to relax. It was written about quite extensively in the ’70s. I never thought about the progesterone connection – but it is certainly plausible. Thanks so much for your intriguing post.

  4. Amy

    Hi –

    I thought I read that you personally recommended applying progesterone cream vaginally/rectally so that it was quickly absorbed and it took away the body “fatigue” issue of having to rotate areas.

    Please update with the best application method.

    Thanks for your brilliant, helpful, fun expertise!


    • Ann Louise Gittleman

      Hi Amy:

      I appreciate your kind words.s

      While the prospect of apply progesterone cream vaginally/rectally may be recommended by some, I don’t personally subscribe to this application, especially if you are using ProgestaKey, which contains a slight bit or lavender essential oil which can be irritating to delicate tissues. I like applying a progesterone cream to the thyroid directly as this targets metabolism most effectively in my opinion. Hope this helps!

      • Amy

        Oh, thanks! Would you recommend applying to the thyroid every time (I definitely want to target metabolism,) or does it need to be rotated around?


  5. Gale

    What are your thoughts about bioidentical hormones?
    Thank you!


    • Ann Louise Gittleman

      Hi Gale: I support the use of bioidentical hormones, by and large. But, you will still need to be monitored for balance whether you go bioidentical or not. Estrogen dominance can occur using this type of hormonal support and needs to be assessed. Also, keeping your liver and bile clean and decongested also comes into play. Watch for my updated “Before the Change” coming out next year, in which I address these concerns in more detail.

  6. Laura

    Hi Ann Louise. Every time I have used bioidentical progesterone cream, I gain weight. I’ve also read where many women do in fact gain weight when using natural progesterone. I know I need it, but am afraid to take it again due to the weight gain. Do you have experience with this in women you know using the cream?

    • Ann Louise Gittleman

      Hi Laura: Thanks so much for posting this as I am hearing from more and more women about this phenomenon, which was relatively unheard of years ago. What I can say is although transdermal progesterone is not totally metabolized through the liver, some does pass through the liver and may in some way – in certain women – also target estrogen receptor sites. So, the key here is making sure your liver is functioning at tip top shape: more inositol and choline to decongest fat and bile salts to facilitate the breakdown of hormones out of the system. For situations like this, I would typically suggest a couple of months on Bile Builder as well. Just curious, though, do you have your gallbladder? I appreciate you bringing up this increasingly common issue, Laura and hope to be able to get to the bottom of it for you.

  7. Sandra Kay

    Hi! I want to thank you on your excellent talk during the latest Fat Summit with Dr. Diulus. I’m 30 years old and for the last 3 years have been suffering most of these symptoms. I’ve been on oral contraceptives for the past decade and I’m sure that’s a major cause of these symptoms. For the first 8 years I was on a progesterone dominant pill and the last 2 years I switched over to an estrogen dominant pill (sprintecy) because I had started to experience cystic acne. After a few months of using sprintec, my skin improved, leading me to think that progesterone had contributed to my acne. My question for you is do you think it’s possible to balance hormones while on the pill? And if so, what recommendations, in addition to optimal fat metabolism, do you have for women like me. Thanks very much!

    • Ann Louise Gittleman

      Hello Sandra Kay. Thanks for reminding me that our talk aired today. I will have to tune in myself!! With regard to your question, let me say that I definitely think it is possible to balance hormones while on the pill but it is indeed tricky. Supporting your liver and bile flow with a supplement like Bile Builder are “givens” as you probably gathered from my remarks during the interview. In addition, I would consider a blood test to assess zinc/copper ratios which are so intimately involved with both estrogen and progesterone imbalances as well as skin issues. If you were taking a synthetic progesterone pill, then I can completely understand the acne result. You will also need a methylated folate and methylated B12 in a copper-free multi (check out the UNI KEY Female Formula for a compatible formula) as well. You can also take a salivary hormone test through my office to get a more current baseline of all hormones that may be involved. Wishing you luck on your journey.

  8. B

    Will Progestakey work with estradiol patch? I had a total hysterectomy 30 years ago and currently have NO libido, and feel rather sluggish.

  9. Ann Louise Gittleman

    Hi B: You definitely need some topical progesterone. It is critical for your bones and brain and will balance the estradiol.

  10. Amy

    Squee!! I missed Ann Louise’s “favorite things” list at the very end of this post the first time around.

    Ann Louise – hopefully you can spend some time talking about each item – especially the supplements because I don’t know what most of them are for.

    Thanks for the fun list!


  11. Ann Louise Gittleman

    Hi Amy: Good idea – we will do a blog on this next week, perhaps. I basically take many of the supplements myself so it will be a pleasure to share what has worked for me and why 🙂

  12. Sophie

    Dear Ann Louise,
    Thank you very much for your valued responses to my questions.

    In one of your other responses above, you refer to methylated folate/B12. I find methylation to be a very interesting but complex and confusing subject. I hope in a future blog you can walk us thru some methylation basics and guide us on the issue of methylated folate/B12. There seems to be some conflict on the subject of methylation/histamine/when to take folate/when to avoid folate/etc. among experts and I would welcome your input, knowledge and guidance. I am sure there are many like me who look to you to help sort out confusing health issues and treatments! You are a beacon of clarity!

    • Ann Louise

      Will try to shed some light on a very confusing subject !! Than you Sophie.

  13. Kallie

    Hello Ann Louise,
    Firstly, thank you so much for the time you take to answer all the questions you get and for the help you give to others. My question is regarding peri menopause and digestion. I’m 51 yrs and had my gallbladder removed 7 years ago. My menstral cycles are becoming more irregular, being a week or more off. I’ve started to experience extreme abdominal bloating and discomfort and pressure 2 weeks before my cycle is to begin. Felt tightness in upper abdomen. This started last month. The pants I wore yesterday, I can’t wear today! I take digestive enzymes regularly because of bloating after eating too. I use progesterone cream and female herbs. Feeling anxious about this. Any suggestions would be so appreciated! Thank you.

  14. Ann Louise

    Kallie: Do check out the Uni Key Bile Builder which is a must for those without a gallbladder and those with hormonally related concerns. I am sure you will lose weight and balance your hormones in short order!!

  15. Judy

    How do I take the Bile Builder. I’m going to use it bcus I have hypothyroidism. Is it necessary to take directly before each meal or after each meal?

    • Team ALG

      That is the way to take it for best results. You want to have the ox bile in the formula available with the fat you are eating.

  16. Dianne

    Hi Ann Louise, I am 63 years old. I had a complete hysterectomy 10 years ago. I was using bio-identical hormones up until about 2 years ago. Due to cost and the doctor being so far from my home, I decided to try with out them. I have since gained weight, mostly in my stomach. Hot flashes and night sweats have gotten better, but I do not sleep well. Would using Progestakey be helpful for me? What is your recommendation? Thank you for your time.

    • Team ALG

      Hi Dianne,

      The symptoms you mentioned can be caused by a lack of progesterone. Yes, you could try using the ProgestaKey.

  17. Do I still need to take progesterone? And if so what benefit does it provide to the situation

    I am 73 and had a total hysterectomy 20 years.
    Do I still need to take progesterone? And if so what benefit does it provide to the situation

    • Team ALG

      Adequate levels of progesterone are needed at any age for tissue integrity and bone strength. To determine your hormone levels, including progesterone you can take a Salivary Hormone test. Here’s the link:

  18. Ruby

    In your book “Before The Change” you state that progesterone creams made from yams do not bond with human cell progesterone receptors, yet ProgestaKey is made from yams?


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