Low Progesterone Symptoms: Understanding How it Affects You
Progesterone is one of the most important hormones in the female body. Along with estrogen, progesterone helps prepare our body to either become pregnant or shed the uterine lining every month. It plays a role in every stage of the female fertility cycle. Knowing low progesterone symptoms can help you understand your body better.
Progesterone is a steroid hormone secreted by the corpus luteum (a temporary endocrine gland that develops after ovulation). Progesterone levels can vary depending on where we are at in our cycle. Right after ovulation (during the luteal phase of our menstrual cycle), our progesterone level skyrockets to help get our body ready for the potential implantation of a fertilized egg. Increased progesterone causes changes to our uterus, making it a more hospitable place for a fetus to develop.
But if there is no fertilized egg to take care of, our body recognizes that there’s no need to hold onto the lush, nourishing uterine lining it just developed. So progesterone levels decline and we enter the “period” portion of our menstrual cycle. Our body goes through this process every single month during our fertile years.
Of course, it’s possible for things to go wrong at times with our hormone production. Some of us produce too little or too much progesterone. Low progesterone symptoms could lead to infertility and other common issues. It’s also normal for progesterone levels to drop during menopause when the body undergoes changes that make pregnancy (without medical intervention) impossible.
Whether you’re concerned you may have a progesterone deficiency, or you just want to learn more about how your amazing body works, here are a few things every woman should understand about progesterone and how it affects us all.
Normal Progesterone Levels
What makes progesterone levels “normal” depends on the time of the month as it relates to your menstrual cycle. Since progesterone is in constant flux throughout the month, what’s considered “normal” at one point in the month may be considered low or high during other points in the month.
When doctors test progesterone levels in women, they typically do it about day 21 of the menstrual cycle. At this time, it’s normal for progesterone to be more than 10ng/mL. If it’s lower than that, it’s an indication of low progesterone. Low levels of this important hormone could indicate anovulation, which is the lack of ovulation. For many women, this is an underlying cause of infertility.
As women, if we ever have any questions about whether or not our progesterone or estrogen levels are normal, we may want to talk to our gynecologist and get our hormone levels tested. This is important even if we’re not actively trying to get pregnant since our hormones affect how we feel on a day-to-day basis. If progesterone or estrogen are out of balance, we’re more likely to experience unwanted symptoms such as weight gain and PMS symptoms.
Progesterone and Pregnancy
Progesterone is one of the busiest hormones in the female body during pregnancy. It has a long “to-do list” and is responsible for making sure our pregnancy goes smoothly. When progesterone is present in normal levels in a pregnant body, it takes care of the following:
- Inhibits ovulation
- Stops the build-up of the endometrium caused by estrogen
- Reduces the production of cervical mucus
- Decreases uterine contraction
- Supports early pregnancy
- Develops and prepares the mammary glands for lactation
- Helps maintain continued pregnancy
- Decreases intestinal activity (which can lead to constipation)
Low progesterone can make it more difficult for a woman to conceive. Low progesterone can also increase the likelihood of miscarriages. That’s why it’s so important to receive a progesterone test in early pregnancy if you are at high risk for miscarriage or other hormone-related pregnancy complications.
Low progesterone symptoms in the luteal phase (also known as a luteal phase defect) can prevent the successful implantation of an egg from taking place. If a woman with low progesterone doesn’t balance her hormones, she may not be able to get pregnant.
For those of us who are already pregnant, we can have peace by having our progesterone tested to make sure it falls in the normal range. Low progesterone during pregnancy can lead to a variety of issues, including miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.
Low progesterone symptoms during pregnancy may include cramping, bleeding, or spotting. Even if low progesterone is not to blame, it’s imperative to talk to our OBGYN if we notice any of these symptoms during pregnancy. Our health and the health of our pregnancy depend on it.
Do Progesterone Levels Change During Your Cycle?
As mentioned already, progesterone and estrogen both fluctuate throughout our menstrual cycle. If either becomes imbalanced throughout the month, it’s likely to impact the other. For example, low progesterone often leads to estrogen dominance. If estrogen dips too low when it’s not supposed to, it can cause high progesterone.
Any hormone imbalance can cause discomfort during our cycle. For example, some low progesterone symptoms can include weight gain and bloating. It can also lead to other unwanted monthly symptoms. Low estrogen and high progesterone can also cause unwanted symptoms, such as breast tenderness, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and more. For these reasons and more, it’s a good idea to regularly monitor your estrogen and progesterone levels if you suspect that one or the other may be out of balance.
Progesterone and Progestin
Many people don’t understand the difference between progesterone and progestin very clearly. While progesterone is the main pro-gestational hormone the female body secretes, progestin is the artificial form. Progestins are intended to help do some of what natural progesterone does in the body.
While progestin in the form of progesterone cream works well for some women who are experiencing low progesterone symptoms, others may find that taking a natural hormone-balancing supplement is preferable to taking synthetic progesterone.
Low Progesterone Levels
There are a few conditions that can interfere with the body’s normal progesterone production. They include hypothyroidism, elevated prolactin, and polycystic ovary syndrome (also known as PCOS). In addition to these common conditions, another cause of low progesterone is menopause. Menopause is a natural decline of the reproductive hormones that usually occurs when a woman is in her 40s or 50s.
Even during perimenopause, which typically happens by the late 30s, progesterone levels naturally start to decline. This can cause changes in menstrual cycle length and flow and can lead to irregular periods.
Low progesterone and excess estrogen, or low progesterone and low estrogen can cause any of the following symptoms to develop:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Weight gain
- Mood changes, including depression or anxiety
- Low blood sugar
- Low libido
- Hair loss
It’s important for those of us who experience any of these signs of low progesterone to seek treatment. Fortunately, treatment doesn’t have to involve taking synthetic progesterone.
Treating Low Progesterone Levels
Some doctors may recommend synthetic progestin creams for low progesterone symptoms, but many of us women prefer to balance our hormones naturally. That’s where Hertime comes in. The natural formula contains a variety of ingredients shown to support healthy hormone balance throughout the month.
Hertime Classic contains Siberian ginseng, Chinese licorice, giant kelp leaf, dong quai, and white peony root. Each of these important herbs helps to keep the female sex hormones in balance and reduce common symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. These ingredients may also help reduce menopausal symptoms.
In addition to these important herbs, Hertime also contains important vitamins for both the menopausal woman and the woman of childbearing age. They include Vitamin D, various B vitamins, and folic acid. This gentle, safe formula full of Mother Nature’s most female-supportive ingredients may help those of us with menopause symptoms or PMS issues to enjoy an improved quality of life.