Progesterone is one of the key sex hormones. It plays a crucial role in creating the ideal environment for pregnancy and is a key player in your reproductive health. Low progesterone symptoms can give you clues about your menstrual cycle, your pregnancy, and what’s going on in your body as you approach menopause.
To understand how it works, let’s take a look at the role of progesterone in your reproductive system.
Every month, an egg is released from a follicle inside your ovaries with its sights set on being fertilized by an awaiting sperm.
Once the egg is released, the empty follicle seals itself off and becomes what is known as the corpus luteum.
This temporary structure then gets going with the task of making your uterus a safe place for a fetus to grow.
One of the ways it does this is by producing progesterone, which then busies itself with a range of different preparation tasks, including increasing the size of your uterus and thickening its lining to help with implantation of the embryo.
If the released egg is fertilized, the corpus luteum will stick around and produce enough progesterone to support the first trimester of your pregnancy.
After that, it will break down, handing over the job of progesterone production to the placental cells of the embryo.
If your egg is not fertilized, the corpus luteum will disintegrate. The lining of your uterus will shed and exit your body with your next period.
In this article: 📝
- What causes progesterone to drop?
- Signs of low progesterone
- What are the symptoms of low progesterone?
- How can I naturally increase progesterone?
What causes progesterone to drop?
During your menstrual cycle, your progesterone levels rise and fall.
They are lowest before ovulation and the highest after ovulation.
When you reach perimenopause—the months and years before your final period—your progesterone levels decline.
If your progesterone levels drop before perimenopause, it can signal that something else is up. Read on.
Signs of low progesterone
A progesterone test is a blood test to determine the levels of the hormone in your system. Your doctor may perform one if you are:
Progesterone levels rise during pregnancy—in fact, they’re about ten times higher than when you’re not pregnant.
If they don’t rise, it could be a sign that there are complications.
Low levels are progesterone are linked to the risk of pregnancy loss.
Progesterone levels can also help determine ectopic pregnancies, which is when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus.
Trying to conceive (TTC)
Progesterone levels can give you clues about your ovarian function and give you a good idea about whether you are ovulating.
Testing progesterone levels can also help in the treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)—a condition which can get in the way of your menstrual cycle and make it more difficult to get pregnant.
To help with the fertility treatment related to PCOS, progesterone tests can be used to check if ovulation took place.
This can give healthcare professionals valuable info that can help them determine the course of your treatment.
Experiencing unusual bleeding
Whether or not you are pregnant, you may have a progesterone blood test if you are experiencing unusual bleeding.
Because there are several different reasons for the rise and fall of progesterone levels, your healthcare provider will talk you through what your results mean for you.
What are the symptoms of low progesterone?
Symptoms of low progesterone include:
- Irregular periods.
- Periods that are longer or heavier.
- Spotting before your period. Spotting can also be one of the symptoms of low progesterone during pregnancy.
- Cramping during pregnancy.
- Short menstrual cycles.
- Mood changes.
- Sleep trouble.
While there has been some interest in the relationship between low progesterone levels and both fluid retention and migraines, more research is needed to figure out how strong these links are.
How can I naturally increase progesterone?
There are a number of products on the market that claim to increase progesterone levels “naturally,” but many of these are not properly researched or regulated.
A common ingredient is wild yam extract, which is marketed as a supplement to increase progesterone levels—but researchers have struggled to find a significant link to back up these claims.
Luckily, when it comes to progesterone supplementation, there are various other options, including prescription creams and pills.
These may be appropriate depending on where you’re at in your journey.
If you’re undergoing IVF, progesterone supplements may help.
Because progesterone is so crucial for getting and staying pregnant, it’s an important part of IVF treatment.
According to this study, the most effective administration is through a vaginal sustained-release gel.
Progesterone supplements and estrogen supplements are together used to prepare or prime the uterine lining during frozen embryo transfers.
The embryo transfer is timed on a particular day, and supplementations are provided in the days leading up to the transfer.
This is to maximize the chances of a receptive, and thick endometrium for embryo implantation.
If you’re perimenopausal, progesterone supplementation can be used in some forms of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
If you have not had a hysterectomy, progesterone can be given alongside estrogen to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer.
There has also been some interest in treating PMS symptoms with progesterone, but the research is inconclusive.
Lastly, there are conflicting reports on whether progesterone supplementation can help prevent recurrent miscarriages.
This recent study showed promise in using progesterone to decrease the chances of miscarriage, but this study is less hopeful.
Wherever you’re at, there are others who are there too. Reach out to the Peanut community if you need support.
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