Progesterone is a hormone responsible for fertility and menstruation.
- pregnancy loss
- preterm birth
- ectopic pregnancy
Progesterone prepares the endometrium, the innermost lining of the uterus, for pregnancy. The hormone helps thicken this lining to support implantation.
If pregnancy occurs, the body and the placenta continue to release progesterone to support the growing fetus. Levels of the hormone continue to rise throughout pregnancy.
Though doctors understand the importance of progesterone in females, they know little about the hormone’s role in males.
In this article, we explore the symptoms of low progesterone and the treatment options.
Females with low progesterone may have irregular periods.
For those interested in becoming pregnant, it may be difficult. Without enough of this hormone, the body cannot prepare the right environment for the egg and developing fetus. If someone with low progesterone becomes pregnant, there may be an increased risk of pregnancy loss.
Signs of low progesterone include:
- abnormal uterine bleeding
- irregular or missed periods
- spotting and abdominal pain during pregnancy
- recurrent pregnancy loss
- ectopic pregnancy
- mood changes
- weight gain, bloating, and swelling due to fluid retention
- breast tenderness
Also, changes in progesterone levels
Progestin is the synthetic form of progesterone in medical treatments.
Does low progesterone cause hot flashes?
Progesterone may help manage hot flashes, although
Low progesterone and high estrogen
Since estrogen and progesterone work together to regulate fertility and the menstrual cycle, low progesterone levels may cause estrogen levels to rise.
Someone with high estrogen may experience:
- decreased libido
- weight gain
- gallbladder issues
Progesterone is a steroid hormone that the body produces in the:
- adrenal cortex, the outer region of the adrenal glands, which sit above the kidneys
- the ovaries and testes
- the ovarian corpus luteum during the first
10 weeksof pregnancy
Causes of low progesterone
Conditions related to low progesterone levels include:
Even when a menstrual cycle is regular, ovulation might not occur, and doctors should check for low progesterone levels.
Endocrine Society guidelines recommend
Progesterone might help maintain the uterus during pregnancy by blocking factors that cause preterm delivery. In some cases, pregnant people need hormone supplementation.
Those taking estrogen therapy for this purpose, and who have not had a hysterectomy, must also take progesterone supplements to help prevent uterine cancer.
A blood test can tell someone’s progesterone levels.
Throughout different stages of the menstrual cycle, progesterone levels fluctuate. During the first half of the cycle, called the follicular phase, progesterone levels are under 1.5 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) of blood.
Just before ovulation, this level increases. It then rises again within a week after ovulation.
Throughout pregnancy, doctors measure progesterone levels to track how the corpus luteum and placenta are working.
During the first trimester, maternal progesterone increases slowly, to around 40 ng/ml.
Between weeks 6–8, doctors consider low progesterone levels to be less than 10 ng/ml, which is a sign of an abnormal or ectopic pregnancy.
In the remaining trimesters, progesterone levels continue to increase to 150 ng/ml.
After menopause, they fall below 0.5 ng/ml.
Although a blood test can detect low progesterone, doctors may need to carry out further tests to diagnose the cause.
Females with low levels of progesterone may require supplementation. Depending on the cause, doctors prescribe different forms of the hormone. They also consider the risk of side effects.
For example, some people cannot tolerate side effects of oral progesterone and may receive the hormone as a topical cream or gel.
To prevent preterm birth, doctors
People taking hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms may also require progesterone supplementation.
In some cases, fertility specialists may prescribe progesterone suppositories.
Anyone who notices symptoms of low progesterone, such as irregular periods, may wish to speak to a doctor if they are concerned and trying to conceive.
A doctor may refer them to a specialist in female reproductive health, a gynecologist, or hormone specialist, an endocrinologist.
If a person is younger than 35 and trying to become pregnant, experts recommend only consulting a fertility specialist after 12 months of trying to conceive naturally. Anyone older than 35 may wish to speak to a doctor earlier.
Females with low progesterone levels may have irregular periods and difficulty conceiving.
Blood tests can detect low levels of the hormone, and further tests can help determine the underlying cause.
To restore progesterone levels, doctors may prescribe different forms of the hormone. The right treatment depends on the cause and takes into account the potential side effects.
Anyone who suspects that they have low progesterone levels should consult a doctor.