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Stacey Feintuch

Stacey Feintuch is a Blogger, Freelance Writer, Public Speaker and Young-ish Widow

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woman suffering from a headache due to Low Progesterone Symptoms
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Low Progesterone Symptoms

Progesterone is a hormone that regulates many functions in a woman's body. Learn to recognize low progesterone and what you can do about it.

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Your Health

Progesterone is a hormone in the body that stimulates and regulates various functions. It's produced in the ovaries, the placenta (when you get pregnant) and the adrenal glands. It helps prepare your body for pregnancy and conception, regulates your menstrual cycle and impacts your libido. If you don't have enough progesterone, you may have difficulty getting or staying pregnant.

Progesterone levels

Progesterone levels fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle. Your numbers rise each month during the second half of the menstrual cycle, about seven days before your period. That's because one of this hormone's most important functions is to cause the uterine lining to give off special proteins to prepare it for an implanted fertilized egg. If the lining isn't thick enough, implantation won't happen.

If you don't have an implantation, your estrogen and progesterone levels drop. Your uterine lining breaks down, and you get your period.

If you do have an implantation and get pregnant, progesterone is produced in the placenta and the levels remain high during pregnancy. Levels are even higher if you're having more than one baby.

The combination of high estrogen and progesterone levels stops ovulation during pregnancy. Progesterone also promotes the growth of milk-producing glands in the breast during pregnancy.

“Normal” progesterone levels depend on a person's age and gender. For women and people assigned female at birth, factors also include where you are in your menstrual cycle and whether you’re pregnant.

Low progesterone causes

Low progesterone levels may be caused by:

  • Possible miscarriage
  • Ovulation or ovary problems
  • Menopause

Low progesterone symptoms

If you are not pregnant, some symptoms of low progesterone include:

  • Low libido
  • Hot flashes
  • Migraine or headache attack
  • Depression, anxiety or other mood changes
  • Menstrual cycle irregularity or absence

If you're pregnant, you need progesterone to maintain your uterus until you give birth. If your levels are too low, you may not be able to carry the baby to term.

Some symptoms of low progesterone levels in pregnant women include:

  • Spotting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Frequent low blood sugar
  • Regularly tender breasts
  • Constant fatigue
  • Vaginal dryness

Progesterone and estrogen hormones complement one another. So, when you don't have enough progesterone, estrogen dominates. And that can lead to symptoms such as:

A simple blood test — a PGSN, or progesterone test — can help you find out if your progesterone levels are too low. It can help you figure out why you're having trouble getting pregnant, confirm whether you've ovulated, monitor hormone therapy (formerly called hormone replacement therapy) and assess the status of a high-risk pregnancy.

Read: Clinically Speaking: What You Need to Know About Hormone Therapy >>

Treatment for low progesterone

Several types of treatments can help address low progesterone symptoms. If you're trying to conceive, hormone therapy can help increase progesterone and thicken your uterine lining. That may improve your chances of getting pregnant. If you have severe menopause symptoms, your hormone therapy will likely be a combination of progesterone and estrogen.

Natural remedies to boost low progesterone levels include:

  • Eating more foods with zinc such as shellfish
  • Upping your intake of vitamins B and C, which help maintain progesterone levels
  • Regulating stress levels (cortisol is released when you're very stressed, reducing progesterone levels)

For more information, check out our piece on progesterone.

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