Studies show that there is no evidence that establishes that low progesterone levels lead to the premenstrual syndrome or PMS in women.
It is often hypothesized that PMS symptoms, specifically with regard to craving for sweets, are caused by low levels of progesterone in women. This is based on a study that showed that women who experienced premenstrual syndrome were found to have abnormally low levels of progesterone. Thus, progesterone has been recommended for the management of PMS symptoms.
However, there is still no consistent evidence that directly links low progesterone levels as the cause of the premenstrual syndrome. In fact, the following studies show that there is no direct relation between these two variables, as will be shown below.
Clinical Studies and Trials
A review of ten clinical trials that focused on progesterone therapy in the treatment of PMS symptoms, wherein progesterone was administered in women who were low in the said hormone, show that there was no significant difference between administering progesterone and placebo.
Another study which specifically examined the premenstrual syndrome symptoms of sweets and chocolate cravings tested whether or the drop in progesterone levels during the premenstrual period were the cause of such cravings. The study concluded that increasing the levels of progesterone during the premenstrual period in women did not alleviate or decrease cravings for chocolates and sweets, therefore proving that there is no real link between progesterone levels and the said PMS symptoms.
A third study tests whether a progesterone treatment called RU 486 actually alleviates premenstrual syndrome symptoms. Here, RU 486 was administered in women with severe PMS symptoms for a period of three months. The results of the study show once again that the effects of the progesterone treatment was similar to that of placebo treatments.
Wyatt M.D., Katrina. “Efficacy of Progesterone and Progestogens in Management of Premenstrual Syndrome: Systematic Review.” British Medical Journal. N.p., 6 Oct. 2001. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. www.bmj.com/content/323/7316/776.full.
Abraham, G. E. “Nutritional Factors in the Etiology of the Premenstrual Tension Syndromes.”Journal of Reproductive Medicine 28.7 (1983): 446-464. PubMed.gov. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6684167>.
Freeman, Ellen, Lynn Gale, Paul Rozin, and Willa Michener. “The Role of Low Progesterone and Tension as Triggers of Perimenstrual Chocolate and Sweets Craving : : Some Negative Experimental Evidence.”Physiology and Behaviour 67.3 (1999): 417-20. ScienceDirect.com. ScienceDirect. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T0P-3XJTGNG-H&_user=10&_coverDate=09/30/1999&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1551797548&_rerunOrigin=scholar.google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=47ba6f7f3d574c82b63e88e525162ac9&searchtype=a.
“Persistence of Premenstrual Syndrome During Low-Dose Administration of the Progesterone Antagonist RU 486.” Obstetrics & Gynecology 84 (2004): 1001-005. LWW Journals. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Web. 25 Nov. 2010. http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/abstract/1994/12000/persistence_of_premenstrual_syndrome_during.20.aspx.