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Does Progesterone Cream Build Up Under the Skin?

by Helene Leonetti MD on 25/07/09 at 2:26 pm

Does Progesterone Cream Build Up Under the Skin?

Dr. Helene Leonetti Answers a Question about Progesterone Cream and Skin Absorption

Q: My doctor has me taking natural progesterone sublingual pills—twice a day because she says the progesterone cream can build up under the skin. What do you say to that?

A: Your doctor’s concern about natural progesterone building up under the skin is a good one, as in the past I have seen some colleagues use very high concentrations, as much as 5% or 10%, which amounts to 100 to 200 mg per dose! I will only use a 2% cream, which amounts to 20 mg per dose. Natural progesterone cream is very efficiently absorbed through the skin where it hitches a ride onto the red blood cell membrane and from there into the general circulation. This all occurs within a matter of minutes of applying the cream.

I found the higher doses to be disruptive to the body’s balance with estrogen. High doses of natural progesterone can also alter cortisol levels, as progesterone and cortisol compete for the same biochemical pathway.

Three reasons why I do not see high doses of natural progesterone cream build in the circulation:

1) Proper dosing,

2) Rotating sites (thin-skinned areas closest to where we blush such as the inner arms and upper chest),

3) Stopping its use for at least two days a month to down-regulate hormone receptor sites.

With these considerations, I have rarely seen the problem your doctor describes.

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13 Responses to “Does Progesterone Cream Build Up Under the Skin?”

  1. avatar


    Jul 31st, 2011

    Dear Dr. Leonetti,

    I have been using 20 mg of Progesterone cream for the past 8 years and have been doing the saliva test every year showing that I’m in range, however, my doctor uses a different lab, which when I’m tested shows that I’m off the charts…way too high!

    Which lab do you use for saliva testing?

  2. avatar


    Oct 31st, 2010

    Is it safe to use from the health food store?

  3. avatar

    Helene B. Leonetti, MD

    Feb 13th, 2010

    Transdermal progesterone cream in the twenty years that I have used it personally and with thousands of patients for over 98% of them has been immensely helpful. For the woman using a face cream containing progesterone whose saliva levels soared and altered cortisol levels: if you use face cream like I use face cream, you are overdosing yourself. My instructions to patients are to massage once or twice daily approx 20mg into arms, upper chest, varying sites each day, and what is left on your fingers, massage into your face.
    For nearly 19 years I have been measuring salivary hormones and have never seen the high levels we are warned about. Yes, the progesterone and cortisol pathways are interconnected, and cortisol levels that I see crashing and burning are more likely from chronic, relentless stress. Besides the nutrients vit C and pantothenic acid (vit B5), the most important thing I recommend is MEDITATION. Blessings, HBL