Progesterone Hormone plays a major role in women who want to get pregnant! It helps the uterus prepare for and maintain pregnancy. Progesterone is a hormone secreted by the corpus luteum (a body that forms after the oocyte gets out of the follicle) in the ovary and in case of pregnancy after the first trimester the placenta takes over its production. Progesterone plays an important role in regulating the menstrual cycle and maintains the early stages of pregnancy, in certain cases when due to an imbalance there is a higher progesterone level than normal it effects ovulation and with it the menstrual cycle. Too high levels of progesterone can be easily investigated by taking a blood sample.
What is the progesterone hormone?
progesterone is a female sex hormone, produced mainly in the corpus luteum after ovulation each month. Progesterone aids in regulating the menstrual cycle, but its main function is to prepare the uterus for pregnancy after ovulation every month! The importance of progesterone is to prepare the lining of the uterus to receive the fertilized egg and help its implantation. If pregnancy does not occur the level of this hormone drops significantly and eventually the uterine lining gets shed (menstruation). Progesterone increases libido and contributes to the growth of the glands responsible for milk production in the breast.
Progesterone hormone function
- Progesterone takes care of the uterine lining preparing it for receiving a fertilized egg (embryo).
- Its production peak after ovulation makes sure the texture of the cervical mucous is stringy allowing easy sperm access
- The corpus luteum when pregnancy occurs maintains high levels of progesterone to further develop the endometrium lining
- Avoids maturation of other oocytes during pregnancy
- Elevated levels of progesterone increase insulin levels leading to lipogenesis and fat storage
- Increases female libido during ovulation.
- Osteoporosis in women coincides with menopause and for a long time it was believed that was solely due to the decrease of estrogen. Research however showed that when elevating progesterone levels by administering it in postmenopausal women the osteoporosis was for a great part reversed. Progesterone promotes bone formation and turnover. It couples bone resorption with bone formation.
- Progesterone is effective in minimizing symptoms of endometriosis through mechanisms not fully understood yet but must probably it limits the growth of endometriotic spots and decreases estrogen levels.
- Progesterone protects against ovarian and breast cancer
- Progesterone is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties
Progesterone during pregnancy
The role of progesterone in pregnancy begins before implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterine lining! It is the hormone that prepares the uterine lining for implantation and once that happens progesterone during pregnancy plays a major part in maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Progesterone throughout pregnancy is produced first by the corpus luteum and then by the placenta after the first trimester. Progesterone is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties aiding the immune system of the pregnant woman.
Some women with natural low progesterone levels take progesterone replacement medication such as tablets, suppositories and injections the dosage and which form is best for each pregnant lady is determined by her OBGYN specialist. A larger and prolonged progesterone production during pregnancy can cause several symptoms such as nausea and breast pain. These are often annoying pregnancy symptoms a lady can manage.
Normal rates of progesterone in women:
- Women in the middle of the menstrual cycle: 5-20 nanograms/ml.
- Pregnant women in the first trimester of pregnancy: from 11.2 to 90 nanograms/ml.
- Pregnant women in the second trimester of pregnancy: from 25.6 to 89.4 Nanograms/ml.
- Pregnant women in the third trimester of pregnancy: from 42.5 to 48.4 ng/ml.
There are several tips that may help you regulate your progesterone hormone levels;
- Avoid stress
- Regular exercise, yoga and meditation.
- Sufficient sleep which for adult women. Should be 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day.
- Maintain a healthy Body Mass Index BMI.
Progesterone is necessary during pregnancy and reproduction, as it contributes to the thickening of the of the uterine lining, when it decreases the uterine lining will not thicken, which will reduce the rates of fertilized oocyte implantation. Several symptoms that could indicate low progesterone levels in non-pregnant women include headaches or migraines, significant mood swings, irregular menstrual cycles, and in some cases low progesterone levels could cause abnormal uterine bleeding. Usually, the decrease of progesterone indicates poor ovarian performance. Reduced progesterone levels in blood may lead to;
- Irregular menstrual cycles.
- Abnormal uterine bleeding.
- Low libido.
- Headaches or migraines.
- Mood swings, including anxiety and depression.
- Hot Flushes.
High levels of progesterone usually indicate pregnancy; 4 ng/ml in the second trimester these levels are normal throughout pregnancy but high levels of progesterone if the woman is not pregnant indicate an underlying medical condition. High levels of produced progesterone could have the following underlying conditions at its culprit.
- Ovarian cysts
- Rare forms of ovarian cancer.
- Disorders of the glands that produce a lot of progesterone.
- Adrenal cancer.
When experiencing any cycle irregularities, mood swings, osteoporosis, recurrent abortion etc. please visit your doctor to figure out if the problem lies in a progesterone production deficiency either it be too high or low.