What Is Progesterone?
Progesterone is a hormone present in the human body, which is responsible for various functions. It is predominantly found in the ovaries of the female body, in the placenta of women who are expecting and the adrenal glands. For a female, several functions are specific to the production of this hormone.
It facilitates the body during preparation for pregnancy, regulates the menstrual cycle and stimulates the libido. Its main purpose is to help the body prepare for conception and pregnancy. After each menstrual cycle, progesterone helps thicken the inner lining of the uterus. This is a preparation for the accommodation of a fertilized egg.
If the prepared uterus, with thickened lining, does not receive a fertilized egg, the progesterone levels slowly drop, and it returns to its original condition. This results in another menstrual cycle. If the prepared uterus receives a fertilized egg, then progesterone helps keep the inner lining strong over the complete period of the pregnancy.
There are many other reasons why this hormone is crucial for the female body. It is responsible for the development of breasts and also for the breastfeeding process. Its function complements the functions of estrogen, which is also a hormone unique to the female body. In addition to this, progesterone acts as a precursor to adrenal hormones.
Are Low Progesterone Levels A Concern?
The female body utilizes it during childbearing years. After each menstrual cycle, this hormone prepares the womb for the fertilized egg. If your progesterone levels are low, you will not be able to conceive or hold a pregnancy for nine months. If the inner lining is not thick enough, the successful implantation of the fertilized egg is impossible.
If you have low progesterone levels, you may face the following symptoms
- Frequent migraines and headaches
- Depression, anxiety and heightened mood swings
- Minimal sex drive
- Hot flashes
- An irregular menstrual cycle
- You will frequently be out of breath
For women who are not expecting, all is not well. The scarcity of this hormone can have various implications for these females as well such as
- Abnormal bleeding in the urine
- Irregular and absent periods
- Mood swings
All these are indications of poorly functioning ovaries as a result of lower levels of progesterone. Even if you are not expecting, you need to maintain acceptable levels of this hormone to keep the ovaries healthy and your reproductive system functioning properly.
In case of pregnancy, you need to maintain adequate levels of this hormone until the baby is delivered. If your progesterone levels are low, the uterus wall may not be able to hold the pregnancy which can be life-threatening for the mother and child.
If you are experiencing low levels of this hormone while you are carrying a child, the following symptoms may occur
- Abdominal pain
- Constant tenderness in breasts
- Extreme fatigue
- Frequent episodes of low blood sugar
- Dryness of the vagina
These symptoms indicate the deficiency of this hormone that can lead to fetal death, toxemia or an ectopic pregnancy. This is also one of the leading causes of miscarriages. Progesterone acts as a complementary hormone to estrogen and its absence, or low levels can be the cause of other problems such as
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Gallbladder problems
- Fibroids or endometriosis
- Fibrocystic breasts and breast tenderness
- Depression, low sex drive, and severe mood swings
- Weight gain
- Irregular menstrual cycles followed by PMS and heavy bleeding
Determining This Condition
If you are feeling any of these symptoms or have just stumbled upon this article, undergo a test right away. In some cases, it is possible to ignore the indications of such diseases, which can pose a problem in the future.
Your doctor will conduct a PGSN test which will determine whether the progesterone levels in your body are acceptable or not. This is a simple test conducted by extracting a tiny amount of blood, much like any other blood test.
This test can highlight the cause of misconception and why your periods are irregular. In addition to this, it also helps determine whether you have ovulated that month or not. This test can be very useful in keeping a check on hormone replacement therapy as well as the health of a high-risk pregnancy.
Progesterone levels tend to fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, the peak 7days before you are expecting your period. During pregnancy, these levels are quite high and if you are expecting twins then is ready for exceptionally high readings
As to what are the acceptable levels of this hormone? This depends on the patient’s gender, age, and other health factors. If you are tested during your monthly cycle, the levels will be different than when you are off the cycle.
What Else Can Be Done?
The first step is to get tested for these levels even if you are not experiencing any symptoms. Otherwise, if you are trying to conceive and having no luck, hormone therapy surely is an option. This therapy induces hormones to strengthen the inner lining and walls of the uterus. If you are faced will irregular cycles and excessive bleeding you can also consider getting this therapy.
For women who are suffering from extreme conditions of menopause, hormone therapy is used to induce a mix of estrogen and progesterone. If they are treated using the only estrogen they are at high risk for endometrial cancer.
There are several other options that women can opt for such as
- Gels and creams for topical applications
- Treatment with suppositories
- Vaginal rings that help release hormones at a lower rate compared to oral medication
- Oral medication
Hormone therapy is a long-term solution but may prove to have side effects. However, digging deeper can provide you natural remedies to reduce this problem.