Women's Stories



A. P., 44, lives in a picturesque Wiltshire town with her husband and their three children. Within her busy schedule she finds time to teach Latin part-time at an independent local school.

“I started the menopause early, experiencing hot flushes at around 37, a year before I had my youngest child. My doctor said I was perimenopausal, and although it wasn’t exactly great news – I had always associated menopause with ‘middle age’ and beyond – I was grateful I had three lovely children, and didn’t plan to have any more. The weird thing was that there was no particular reason for the premature symptoms – I was very healthy and fit – consequently I had nil sympathy from friends and contemporaries.

My GP said I should go on HRT, which I did, and it immediately zapped the hot flushes. The bad news was that I started to suffer from painful, debilitating headaches that came with a feeling of nausea, like migraine. I also felt permanently premenstrual. Under the guidance of my doctor, I tried other forms of conventional HRT but shunned the idea of implants, as I would have been stuck with whatever reaction they caused for the three-month duration. Then I saw a magazine editorial praising the benefits of natural progesterone. It mentioned a DIY hormone test performed with saliva, instead of the blood test which you can only have through GP’s. I bought the special kit and sent the sample off to America to be analysed.

When the results came back I contacted a private doctor, who told me the dose I needed to address my symptoms. Unfortunately, when I went back to my GP, he wouldn’t give me a prescription, but instead prescribed a pessary-style product that was messy – and disastrous from a self-esteem point of view. The only answer was to go back to my private doctor, who gave me a private prescription for a natural progesterone cream.

The results were brilliant; my headaches stopped immediately. I get the occasional hot flush, but it’s timed in with my monthly cycle and to be honest, negligible. This is my only symptom now and it’s a small price to pay. I feel more energised and I sleep better thanks to the disappearance of the headaches.

I have to be vigilant about maintaining the cream correctly – not to run out of supplies and interrupt the flow. I have been using it for four years now and three years ago I went for a bone scan, which showed very good results. So, I really trust my natural regime; I feel it is safer than conventional HRT and I’m confident that I’m not exposing myself to increased risk of breast cancer. Not only that, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, it is a reliably preventative measure for my bones.”

Jane Coulthard, 45, is an ordained interfaith minister and spiritual counsellor. She lives in the countryside with her husband and two dogs.

“I had an early menopause at the age of 30 and when I eventually took natural progesterone it was as protective maintenance for my bones. What I wasn’t aware of was the added bonus that it would enhance my health holistically. The premature menopause had made it difficult for me to conceive and I underwent a programme of fertility treatment. But the treatment proved unsuccessful and with that disappointment came symptoms of stress and depression. The action of the progesterone helped balance my hormones and emotions but the benefits were physiological too: My negative state of mind was suppressing my immune system – I used to feel tired all the time and was always coming down with something. My general wellbeing improved favourably once the progesterone got to work.

I used the natural progesterone as an ongoing form of treatment and within a few months I didn’t feel tired and drained in the same way. My energy levels increased and I ceased to be a magnet for all the viruses doing the rounds. I am convinced that the natural therapy boosted my immune system and that the treatment may have kicked in sooner had my periods not ceased around five years before.

Mindful of the threat of osteoporosis, I had a bone scan just before I started taking progesterone. I’m really glad I had the examination as my bone density was below the acknowledged average ‘line’. A few years into the treatment, I had the scan again. Amazingly, this time my bone quality was above the accepted line. My specialist said “whatever you’re doing, keep doing it”! As far as I’m concerned, HRT doesn’t prevent bone loss, it just helps to maintain the status quo. This is why natural treatment is so valuable – I’ve actually increased my bone density.

To maintain all-round health, I eat a balanced diet and do a lot of walking – my husband and I love walking our two dogs. In fact, last year I noticed some vaginal discomfort that increased as I walked. On my doctor’s advice I tried the progesterone cream internally – and it sorted it out. My GP is somewhat more cynical. He wouldn’t prescribe natural progesterone until, he says, the clinical trials are peer-reviewed and published. In the meantime, I recommend the treatment to anybody and everybody.

I believe that the pressure from modern day society can upset our hormonal balance, making it harder to conceive. If I’d known about natural progesterone when I embarked on that course of fertility treatment, it may have regularised my periods and enhanced my chance of conceiving.”

Diana G., 64, lives in the country with her husband Tim, two horses, two dogs, two cats and one gander.

“In 1968 when I was breast-feeding my first child I noticed a hard lump in my right breast near the sternum. Naturally, I was concerned, but when I went to my GP, he told me to go home and forget about it. I did just that and since then I have breast-fed two more children. But the lump never really went away and when I started to physically experience strange sensations I went back to my doctor. At the time I had reached fifty and was embarking on the menopause.

This time round, my doctor was more attentive. He conducted exploratory tests – which showed serious results: I underwent a mastectomy and removal of the lymph glands – several of which were affected with cancer. My surgery was followed by a course of chemotherapy and years of taking prescribed Tamoxifen. During this time I experienced hot flushes, along with tiredness and lack of energy, which undermined my quality of life.

Eventually I gave up on the Tamoxifen. At the same time, I heard favourable reports about treatment with natural progesterone, which struck me as a much more sensible way of addressing my symptoms. I read as much as I could find about natural progesterone and attended a UK lecture given by Dr John Lee, the American expert who has written several books on the subject.

I was also recommended to contact a private UK doctor who worked with natural progesterone. After a comprehensive consultation he prescribed a natural progesterone cream.

I have been using the preparation for the last six years, and am pleased to say that my quality of life now is excellent. All along, incidentally, my GP has refused to prescribe progesterone cream, although I understand that some doctors will.”

Dynamic therapist Rachel M., 49, lives with her husband in the north of England. She is a qualified reflexologist and Bach Flower practitioner and works in private practice at home and in health clinics. She has also worked in psychiatric care. She reports:

“I heard about natural progesterone through a meeting at the Association of Reflexolgists, where Dr David Smallbone was giving a talk. This rang a bell, as I had attended a lecture several years ago given by Dr John Lee. I remember being really taken by what he was saying and thinking ‘when the need arises, I’m going down this road’.

Two years ago, when I was 47, I experienced some niggling signs – nothing major – like localised itching and heavier, more painful and erratic periods. I got in touch with Dr Smallbone to see if there was a case to begin treatment. I did a natural saliva test, available from a healthcare manufacture, and sent it to the USA to be analysed (I think blood tests from the doctor are time-consuming and I didn’t want HRT anyway).

On the basis of the results, and having fully read up on the subject, I arranged a consultation with a private doctor. He prescribed natural progesterone cream, which I apply morning and evening. The doctor warned that it might take several months to kick in but in fact my symptoms started to ease off within six months.

Two years down the road I’m extremely happy with my natural HRT regime. I feel so good being free of side effects and menopausal symptoms. The only thing that affects my wellbeing is air travel and when I recently suffered a bereavement the emotional stress upset my cycle.

In the main, though, my periods are now normal and manageable, and I’ve scuppered that day-before headache. Not only that, my mood swings have abated too. All very good news for my husband, of course.”