Progesterone is a type of female sex hormone that regulates several functions of the female reproductive system. However, its most important function is to prepare the uterus (womb) of a woman to host a pregnancy. Progesterone is mainly produced by the ovaries and plays a vital role in maintaining the menstrual cycle as well as ensuring the safety of the pregnancy in its initial stages.
Progesterone deficiency can affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant. A fertility test is the only reliable way of knowing if a woman is producing adequate levels of progesterone. Among women who are not planning to get pregnant, the progesterone level ranges from 0.2 – 1 ng/ml before ovulation and over 5 ng/ml after ovulation. During the luteal phase, which occurs after ovulation but before your period begins and involves the thickening of the uterine lining in anticipation of possible pregnancy, the level of progesterone increases even more? In fact, it may even exceed 200 ng/ml if pregnancy does occur. For pregnant women, a high level of progesterone in the blood is necessary until the baby is born. In fact, pregnant women who lack progesterone are prescribed supplements to avoid the possibility of a miscarriage.
That said, symptoms of low progesterone levels among women who are not pregnant vary greatly. From headaches and migraines to fibroids and endometriosis, mood changes and depression, weight gain, thyroid dysfunction, irregular menstrual cycles, and infertility, problems related to low progesterone are wide-ranging.
The causes of low progesterone themselves are diverse and include high estrogen levels, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of adequate nutrition, insulin resistance/diabetes, and chronic stress. Reversing many of these causes often brings positive results as far as progesterone levels are concerned. Women with low progesterone should adopt a healthy and active lifestyle, consume nutritious food that is rich in vitamin B, vitamin C, and zinc, and manage stress. Treatments like conventional hormone therapy and topical or vaginal creams and gels are also useful to enhance progesterone levels.