Progesterone plays a matchless role in the female organism. It’s produced by the ovaries and also, in part, by the placenta. Its key functions are regulation of menstruation and preparing the body’s mechanisms for impregnation. The normal limits of the substance are one of the hallmarks of good health. It should be regularly checked both before and during pregnancy. Below, we will tell you about the signs and symptoms of progesterone insufficiency, its causes, and treatment methods.
Signs & Symptoms of Low Progesterone
A symptom is a phenomenon that is experienced by the individual suffering from a certain condition. A sign is an outwardly visible indication that can be observed by someone other than that person with the ailment or disease. Thus, symptoms of poor progesterone in non-pregnant women include:
- low sex drive (libido);
- various menstrual disorders, in particular,
delayed menstruation, oligomenorrhea, polymenorrhea, amenorrhea.
Women with low progesterone are less likely to fall pregnant. After conception, the risk of spontaneous abortion increases due to the insufficiency of this hormone. Women who are not pregnant women also experience mood changes, anxiety and depression. However, the terms “sign” and “symptom” are often used interchangeably.
During pregnancy, females suffer from:
- permanent breast tenderness;
- frequent decreased blood glucose;
- dryness in the vagina;
- brain fog;
- sagging skin.
Causes of Low Progesterone in Women
What causes low progesterone in females? It’s one of the most widespread questions, asked on specialized forums and on doctor’s consultation. The rapid decline of the progesterone concentration in the blood can be triggered by the following conditions:
- a strict diet which doesn’t supply enough vital nutrients, especially fats;
- emotional response to stress, fatigue, etc.;
- genetic vulnerability;
- deterioration of the menstrual cycle;
- estrogen dominance, which is manifested in cellulite, varicose veins, bloating, etc.
Pathological causes of the disorder:
- problems with the pituitary gland, inducing a lack of luteinizing hormone;
- improper functioning of the thyroid gland;
- dysfunctions of the ovaries;
- severe infectious and chronic diseases, affecting ovarian tissues.
Progesterone’s Role in Conception
This hormonal substance plays a crucial role in pregnancy planning. Fluctuating levels are not ideal during this period. Ideally, it must stay stable and within normal parameters.
This hormone is so essential for the reproductive system because progesterone:
- creates favourable conditions, in which the egg can be fertilized in the uterus and the viability of the foetal egg rises substantially;
- provides uterine contractions, excluding the risk of spontaneous miscarriage;
- helps to strengthen the endometrium which is very important for maintaining the embryo;
- controls the proliferation of minor blood vessels in the endometrium.
During ovulation, estrogens and the influence of other hormonal substances contribute to the creation of the pituitary body, a yellow mass also called the corpus luteum. This is the gland that appears at the site of the burst follicle after ovulation. A follicle synthesizes special agents, which facilitate its growth. These agents then form the necessary conditions for the endometrium to attach the egg and increase the sensitivity of the inner membranes of the uterus to progesterone.
As soon as ovulation ends, the process of intense progesterone manufacture is provided by the yellow body. Under its influence, the decidual membrane of the endometrium, which is vital for implantation of the foetus, grows and stores useful components and nutrients. What does a low level mean? During prepartum, the migration of the fertilized egg through the Fallopian tube is affected plus, the unimpeded attachment of the egg to the uterus’s walls can also be impacted. Such conditions can induce difficulties in conceiving a newborn and result in temporary periods of infertility.
How to Diagnose Low Progesterone Quantity?
The above-mentioned signs and symptoms are reasons to visit a doctor who will conduct a lab test, aimed at revealing the hormonal level. Diagnosis is performed by measuring progesterone levels in the patient’s blood.
This check is a simple test that doesn’t require any preparation. For non-pregnant women, the most suitable time to test is at the end of the first week of the luteinizing phase. On the 7th day, the highest development of the yellow body in the ovary may be observed. Patients can submit to this test on the 21st day of the menstrual cycle only if they have a regular cycle, lasting 28 days. For others, a doctor’s determination of the optimal time, made with an individual approach, is essential. Only this will yield accurate results.
This test, detecting the progesterone amount, is also applied for prescribing HRT during the menopause and the woman’s state of health if the risk of premature delivery and other threats is likely.
How to Treat the Condition?
After diagnosing low progesterone in a woman, intending to conceive, a physician prescribes drugs, based on this hormone, for instance, Duphaston, which is very popular in gynecological practice with proven efficiency. This synthesized analogue, copying the effect of the woman’s natural progesterone, is a powerful remedy for combating infertility, spontaneous abortions, threatened abortion, dysmenorrhea (menstrual disorders) and endometriosis. Its effectiveness allows its use for treating women with a pathological absence of menstruation and curing uterine bleeding. Only a licenced specialist can decide which therapy to follow and what dosage of Duphaston to take. Other medications for low progesterone treatment include:
- An oral medicine called Provera (medroxyprogesterone C22H32O3). It is also marketed as Livomedrox, Embryogen, Medrocil, Medrone, Depofemme, Depocon, Depotrim, Provenor, Sayana, Solutres, Triclofem, Veraplex, and Deponeo in different countries.
- Creams & gels administered topically or vaginally.
- Suppositories, typically used when treating low hormone levels resulting in infertility.
- Vaginal rings, which provide slower, more phased release of active substances than oral preparations. The ring is a novel system for luteal support with high efficacy. However, more trials are needed to determine optimal protocols for their use (Laurel Stadtmauer and Kay Waud, Norfolk [USA], 2015).
Some females find that the drugs cause side effects that may include heart palpitations, sleepiness or nausea, so the proper dosage needs to be determined by a healthcare expert.
In cases of the absence of pregnancy (confirmed by the results of hCG blood test) the med can be withheld on the 12th or 13th day, which triggers menstrual bleeding. If pregnancy takes place, the continuance of the treatment should last until the 16th week of gestation (early pregnancy), until the placenta is completely formed and able to emit the hormone naturally.
During the menopause, combined hormonal drugs containing 2 hormones, namely estrogens and progesterone (the so-called combined estrogen-progesterone hormone replacement therapy) can be prescribed. Read more about testosterone replacement therapy. It prevents the development of uterine cancer, osteoporosis, removes obnoxious side effects of the menopause and enhances skin condition.
How to Increase Progesterone Levels Naturally?
It’s possible to boost its level by consuming such products as sweet pepper, camu camu or Peruvian berry, beans, oranges, asparagus, papaya, spinach, greens, mustard greens, prunes, carrots, cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, kale, Swiss chard) and fiber foods (teff, quinoa, millet, gluten-free oats, amaranth).
You may prepare a vegetable salad and dress it heavily with a healthy topping (olive, sunflower or soybean oils). The diet should contain protein-rich foods, including fish (rich in Omega-3), various meats and cottage cheese. These products are essential for the function of the whole body.
For a dessert, opt for fresh berries, different fruits like raspberry, strawberry, currants, mulberry, dog rose, blackberry, raisins, persimmon, assai berry, gooseberry, boysenberry, cranberry, elderberry, Goji berry, huckleberry, lingonberry, and apples. The production of hormones dramatically improves after eating walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, chestnuts, cashew, other edible nuts, and sunflower seeds. The fats contained in them are the building blocks for progesterone and the synthesis of other sex hormones.
There are suggestions from folk medicine. To raise the hormone’s level, you can drink herbal tea daily made from fresh raspberry leaves, lady’s mantle, pasque flower, and some other herbs. The use of these methods should be discussed with your doctor. Even herbs may cause adverse reactions, also they can interact with other medicines. The same goes for remedies purporting to boost testosterone levels naturally.