Pregnenolone is a chemical found within the human body, but it can also be manufactured in a lab. It is produced by the adrenal gland and is an endogenous steroid.
It can also be made from cholesterol and is the starting material in the production of testosterone, progesterone, cortisol, estrogen, and other hormones; for this reason, it is called a “precursor” or “pro-hormone.” Below, you will find some interesting details about pregnenolone to help you with your research.
Pregnenolone Formula: C21H32O2
Group Classification: Neurosteroids
Other Names: P5; 5-Pregnenolone; δ5-Pregnene-3β-ol-20-one; Pregn-5-en-3β-ol-20-one; NSC-1616
Pregnenolone has been referred to as the mother of all hormones because, without it, the body can’t produce other hormones.
Pregnenolone has been marketed in the past under a variety of brand names, including Arthenolone, Bina-Skin, Enelone, Natolone, Pregnetan, Pregneton, Pregnolon, Prenolon, Regnosone, Sharmone, and Skinostelon.
It is no longer classified as a medication but is now sold as a supplement.
Table of Contents
The Biological Function of Pregnenolone
Pregnenolone and the pregnenolone sulfate belong to the group of neurosteroids that are found in high concentrations in some regions of the brain. Here in the brain, they are synthesized, which means they are made by combining different things.
Pregnenolone is classified as a neurosteroid that affects synaptic functioning, is neuroprotective, and enhances myelinization. Therefore it is thought that pregnenolone and pregnenolone sulfate may elevate and improve cognitive and memory function.
What Other Hormones Does Pregnenolone Produce?
It is used to produce:
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
What Are the Normal Levels of Pregnenolone Found in the Body?
Normal levels are as follows:
- Men: 10 to 200 ng/dL
- Women: 10 to 230 ng/dL
- Children: 10 to 48 ng/dL
- Adolescent boys: 10 to 50 ng/dL
- Adolescent girls: 15 to 84 ng/dL
These levels do not change much throughout a lifetime and tend to stay the same in postmenopausal women and older men.
How Does Pregnenolone Work?
It is typically used as a steroid; however, more information is being conducted on how it should be administered.
It is most often taken by mouth and helps change chemicals in the brain.
Pregnenolone binds with high, nanomolar affinity to microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2) in the brain. It induces tubule polymerization in neuronal cultures and to increase neurite growth in PC12 cells treated with nerve growth factor.
Pregnenolone may control the formation and stabilization of microtubules in neurons. These neurons may affect both neural developments during prenatal development and neural plasticity during aging.
Does Pregnenolone Interact With Other Medications?
Your health care provider will be the first person you will want to confer with before mixing any type of medications, vitamins, or supplements.
Mixing with Estrogen
Since pregnenolone increases estrogen, it might be too much for the body to take with estrogen itself or other medications that increase estrogen. Combing the two might be too much estrogen production inside the body.
Mixing with Progesterone
Progesterone is a group of hormones that are often used in women’s birth control pills and skin patches. It is used to help treat women’s menopausal symptoms and contains many of the same hormones as pregnenolone.
Taking both together might be too much for the body to produce at one time.
Mixing with Testosterone
The body already changes Pregnenolone into testosterone, so it may not be necessary to take both at the same time. Taking both together might increase the change of testosterone side effects.
A few of these side effects may include:
- Breast swelling
- Blood clots
- Increase in body hair growth in both men and women
- Tingly sensation
- Pain or swelling where medication is injected
Pregnenolone May Help Brain Function
Pregnenolone helps raise brain levels of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter needed for thought processes. This is typically low in Alzheimers’ patients and is found in the hippocampus surrounding spatial memory.
Pregnenolone sulfate has been used in studies, and it is an endogenous excitatory neurosteroid that is synthesized from pregnenolone. It works as a modulator with brain receptors and is also an activator.
In one study, pregnenolone sulfate enhanced acetylcholine release by more than 50% of the baseline and improved recognition memory of an individual’s familiar environment. Results suggest that the septohippocampal pathway could be involved in the promnesic properties of this neurosteroid.
The study took rats and injected them with an infusion of 5 ng of the neurosteroid pregnenolone sulfate. This was injected into the nucleus basalis magnocellularis, and the rats were then evaluated for 130 min post-injection.
Evidence showed that the neurosteroid acts as a negative modulator of the GABA(A) receptor and positively modulates the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor. This means it can result in a global stimulatory effect on central cholinergic neurotransmission.
Dosage for pregnenolone is going to be based on a few variables, including but not limited to: the person’s age, health, the reason for use, and in accordance, with other medications or supplements the person may already be on.
Currently, there is not a dose in which consumers can follow on a day to day basis. Reading the bottle label will be the first step you look at for dosage, followed by consulting with a pharmacist, physician, or other healthcare professional.
Pregnenolone is possibly safe to take by mouth around a period of 12 weeks. Not enough research has been conducted, and therefore short term use is suggested, and it is not yet deemed safe for long term use.
Pregnenolone May Help With Stress & Fatigue
Fatigue hits people differently, and for various amounts of time. It leaves people feeling unmotivated to work and reduced capableness of accomplishment.
A feeling of weariness and tiredness typically accompanies people with fatigue and stress. More than one million Americans have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Pregnenolone may help with fatigue and stress because it helps the body produce hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, DHEA, and testosterone. Having these hormones elevated can help people with their fatigue and stress issues.
It also helps maintain levels of essential hormones that help promote mood enhancement that can affect and change your fatigue and stress levels positively.
Pregnenolone Benefits for Women
Pregnenolone is beneficial for women of all ages, and that involves a deeper look at a few interesting benefits.
Young teen girls typically get their period or menstrual cycle when their ovaries make eggs and the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone are what help women develop and maintain their periods.
When teen girls don’t naturally get their periods, the doctor will first look at the reason for it, and then prescribe hormones or hormone enhancing treatments. These treatments are meant to copy what the body should naturally be doing on its own.
Pregnenolone helps promote estrogen and this snowballs in assisting the overall menstrual cycle and the characteristics surrounding it.
It helps female sex characteristics, such as breasts, more full hips, pubic hair, and armpit hair. Estrogen also assists in regulating the menstrual cycle, controlling the growth of the uterine lining during the first part of the cycle.
Estrogen is essential in keeping a women’s vagina healthy, and due to the fact pregnenolone helps the body produce more of it, it can, in turn, help overall vaginal health.
Pregnenolone may help women who suffer from vaginal dryness due to the increased estrogen production, which helps keep the moisture regulated.
Therapy for Reproductive Organs
Many steroid hormones like estrogen (E2) bind to receptors that aid in the regulation of the biological process. Pregnenolone (P5) is the precursor for the majority of hormone steroids. More research currently needs to be done surrounding (P5) and its mechanism and physiological function.
In one study of P5, researchers investigated its effects with E2 receptors in the uteri and ovaries. To study the mechanisms of P5 directly, they took Ishikawa cells and transfected them with E2 response element (ERE)-luciferase plasmid and isoforms of ER.
Activity induced by P5 was similar to that caused by E2, and P5 showed high activity for ER.
In an animal study, female rats were treated with P5. This study showed upregulation of ERα and downregulation of ERβ in the uteri (the central organ expressing ERα). In ERβ-expressing organ ovaries, estrogen receptor 1, estrogen receptor 2, and P4 receptor were all downregulated by P5 and E2.
It additionally showed a decrease of ovarian cell proliferation and viability was observed in response to P5 relative to the control. These findings suggest that P5 may be a candidate for the antiproliferative hormone of ovarian cancer.
From Where is Pregnenolone Synthesized?
Pregnenolone is produced mainly in the adrenal glands, the gonads, the brain, and it is also produced in the gonads and brain. The most circulating pregnenolone is derived from the adrenal cortex.
Are There Side Effects to Taking Pregnenolone?
With little research overall on pregnenolone, the side effects are not fully understood. Interestingly, it is thought that pregnenolone may cause side effects similar to other steroids.
These side effects may include:
- Negative mood change
- Facial hair growth
- Hair loss
- Irregular heartbeat
For women who are pregnant or lactating, it is important for them to avoid use. Additionally, if people have conditions that may be worsened by an increase of estrogen, it is best to stay away from pregnenolone.
It is also a good idea for those with breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids to avoid it since these conditions are sensitive to hormones and hormone changes.
What is the Pregnenolone Steal Syndrome?
Doctors across the board and worldwide do not yet recognize this syndrome but are commonly known by practitioners as the pregnenolone steal syndrome.
Pregnenolone steal syndrome is a hormonal imbalance that causes a wide range of health symptoms. It occurs in both men and women, but women seem to show symptoms more frequently.
Pregnenolone steal syndrome may affect your body’s ability to produce hormones in the body. Unfortunately, the body needs to produce adequate levels of pregnenolone and then be able to convert it effectively, and those who aren’t able to do this suffer from this syndrome.
Since pregnenolone relies on cholesterol for production, having low cholesterol levels impacts pregnenolone in a negative way. If your glands aren’t functioning correctly, you might have a problem with pregnenolone as well.
Pregnenolone steal syndrome symptoms include:
- Weight gain – especially in women where increased weight more times results in a high hip to waist ratio
- Infertility – one study of infertile women undergoing IVF therapy found the treatment group had higher levels of cortisol and prolactin than the fertile control group undergoing the treatment
- Low libido –one study showed women experiencing high levels of stress showed a lower sex drive
Treatments for pregnenolone steal syndrome include taking pregnenolone orally. However, the recommended dose for curing this syndrome is going to be based on a long list of factors.
One study researched the dose of 500mg pregnenolone per day for eight weeks was used to target cognitive and negative symptoms in patients with schizophrenia.
It is worth noting that the key to treating this syndrome is to not only find the proper dose but to talk with your doctor about what initially triggers the syndrome.
The number one way to avoid getting the pregnenolone steal syndrome is to avoid anything that may cause or elevate stress levels. Finding a way to manage and cope with your stress is going to help you prevent this syndrome, and will be better for your health overall.
Pregnenolone is a newer concept being studied, and more research is needed within the scientific field. While a few studies have been done, more research is needed.
Pregnenolone is not only essential to women’s health but is something important to overall brain health. Since it is something that is made from the body but can also be synthesized, it is a unique topic and well worth your continued research. Although it is sold as an alternative medicine online, make sure you talk to your doctor before taking it.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.