Marla Ahlgrimm Explains the Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Progesterone

Ahlgrimm Marla

Ahlgrimm Marla

Self-help methods – eating well, exercising regularly and nutritional supplements like ProCycle PMS – can go a long way toward managing physical and emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, says Madison, Wisconsin-based pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm. However, some women find that self-help is not enough to keep their symptoms under control. If you’re one of these women, you may want to talk to your physician about prescribing natural progesterone therapy. Here’s a look at some the basic facts about progesterone therapy that will help you evaluate your options.

Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm is a pharmacist, not a physician. Her work with progesterone therapy has made national headlines over the last 30 years. She is a huge advocate of self-help to minimize the effects of PMS symptoms, but fully understands that sometimes a natural or synthetic progesterone supplement may be necessary. There are many physical and emotional symptoms that go along with PMS, she says, and the combination of medical and nonmedical intervention may be necessary to ward off symptoms. Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm encourages women to educate themselves on the differences between natural and synthetic progesterone. According to Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm a woman’s OB/GYN is a good place to start.



The hormone

How does progesterone work in your body? When produced by the ovaries, reports Marla Ahlgrimm, progesterone prepares the lining of the uterus for a fertilized egg. In fact, progesterone means “for gestation” and is the hormone of pregnancy. If fertilization and implantation do not occur, your progesterone levels fall and your cycle begins. According to Marla Ahlgrimm, progesterone levels fluctuate in the monthly pattern. During the first half of your cycle, from day 1 of your period to ovulation, approximately 14 days later, progesterone levels are low. After ovulation, says Ahlgrimm, progesterone levels begin to rise. Progesterone is produced by the ovaries during the second half of the menstrual cycle. If you become pregnant, the placenta takes over the output of progesterone, producing high levels of the hormone especially after the ninth or tenth week of pregnancy. Elevated progesterone levels may be one reason some women say they feel wonderful during pregnancy, says Marla Ahlgrimm.

Pharmacist Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm is not an M.D., although she is sometimes referred to as such by her clients. She is an expert in women’s health, and has spent the last 30 years focused primarily on hormonal deficiencies. One area of her expertise is progesterone therapy to assist with PMS symptoms. Many women ask specifically how progesterone works with the body, says Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm. According to Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm, progesterone is a hormone produced naturally. Its main function is to assist in the body’s preparation for pregnancy. Women near the end of their first trimester of pregnancy have elevated levels of progesterone, which may account for that pregnancy “glow.”



The medication

The hormone progesterone is prescribed by physicians to supplement a woman’s production of the hormone. Many women often ask Marla Ahlgrimm how natural progesterone is different from a synthetic progestin. When in its natural state, progesterone is identical to what your body produces every month. A synthetic progestin, like those found in birth control, can significantly slow down or halt ovulation entirely and diminish the body‘s natural output of the hormone. Rather than relieve PMS, synthetic progestin often intensifies PMS symptoms, reports Ahlgrimm.

While she is not a Dr., Marla Ahlgrimm is a pharmacist and author whose works can be found on the shelves of thousands of doctors across the country. As an expert in women’s health and a pharmacist for over three decades, she is often asked about the legitimacy of progesterone therapy. She says to understand progesterone therapy; one must understand specifically what progesterone does in the body. Progesterone, says Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm, is the home of pregnancy and it fluctuates often throughout a woman’s cycle. She says that for women with PMS, natural progesterone is often better than synthetic progestin in relieving PMS symptoms. She advises that women speak with their doctors about either.


An important point to remember about progesterone therapy is that the two forms cannot be used interchangeably. If your physician prescribes progesterone, you should ask whether he/she is prescribing the natural or synthetic form. Usually, progesterone is prescribed for use during the last half of the menstrual cycle, from the onset of ovulation until menstruation begins, notes Ahlgrimm. Often people mistakenly believe that natural progesterone is an herbal substance that would be found at a health food store. It isn’t. Natural progesterone is a highly purified, quality pharmaceutical preparation derived from soy. It is highly regulated by the FDA. It is a prescription drug that must be compounded individually by a pharmacist. Marla Ahlgrimm cautions that receiving the proper amount of the hormone is key.

Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm is not a research doctor or a PhD; she is a well-known pharmacist, author and entrepreneur who specializes in women’s health. As the founder of Madison Pharmacy Associates and Women’s Health America, she has done extensive research on progesterone therapy in women with PMS. Progesterone therapy has been a hot topic over the last several years and its administration has been the subject of some debate. According to Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm, there are two predominant forms of progesterone: suppository and oral. Oral progesterone can be taken in capsule or tablet while suppositories may be administered via the vagina or the rectum, says Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm. Which form to use is a personal decision and should be discussed with a physician, concludes Ahlgrimm.




Because natural progesterone is available in different forms including transdermal creams, suppositories, sustained release tablets, and oral capsules, Ahlgrimm recommends considering which one is best for you. Things to take into account include absorption factors – how much of the medication is absorbed, how fast, and how long it lasts. According to Ahlgrimm, you will also want to consider how easy the medication is to take, and the cost. As noted by Marla Ahlgrimm, these are the most commonly prescribed forms of progesterone:


Oral – Micronized progesterone can be taken orally in capsule or tablet form, says Ahlgrimm. The capsule is an immediate release form that is taken four times daily. Oral tablets are an even release formula and can be taken twice a day to produce consistent levels of the medication in the blood, which is important. Remember, progesterone is a hormone with naturally calming effects, notes Ahlgrimm. All forms of natural progesterone may cause drowsiness, says Marla Ahlgrimm. If drowsiness or dizziness occur, the dosage may need to be reduced. Taking natural progesterone with food also helps avoid drowsiness.

Suppositories- Progesterone suppositories can be administered rectally or vaginally. They provide consistent absorption rate. Some women may experience vaginal leakage as a suppository melts. Rectal suppositories can also stimulate the bowels.


For more information about how pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm can help you manage your symptoms of PMS or other hormonal imbalances, visit her online at


Speak Your Mind