The body is an amazing miracle in action. Every second, millions of reactions are taking place to maintain a perfect balance. People spend years of their lives studying how the body functions and they still don’t know everything there is to know about human life. One aspect of humanity is reproduction. For some women, becoming pregnant seems as easy as simply thinking about a baby. For others, becoming pregnant and maintaining a pregnancy is a very frustrating experience. The hormone progesterone is responsible for several reactions that must take place for a healthy pregnancy to occur. If progesterone is not present in the body at a proper amount, a woman is most likely going to be dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss.
The female menstrual cycle is a complicated “dance” that takes place within the female body. Each cycle varies from woman to woman with an average length of 28 days. Hormones secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain stimulate the ovaries to secrete the hormones estrogen and progesterone at different intervals. Of course, this process is much more complex than described here.
Progesterone is an important hormone as it is responsible for preparing the lining of the uterus for implantation. Progesterone is also responsible for maintaining a pregnancy. Progesterone is secreted from the ovary after ovulation by a mass called a “corpus luteum.” The corpus luteum is maintained by the hormone hCG until the placenta is capable of taking over progesterone production. HCG is the hormone detected in blood and urine in a pregnancy test. If pregnancy does not occur, the corpus luteum begins to die, progesterone levels plummet and a woman starts her menstrual cycle over again with menstruation. It is easy to see how important progesterone is and why it is commonly referred to as “the pregnancy hormone.”
Low Progesterone Signs and Symptoms:
The problem with progesterone imbalances is the symptoms typically mimic those of other disorders. Besides infertility and pregnancy loss, low progesterone symptoms can include:
Lack of concentration
Low sex drive
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)
Causes of Low Progesterone:
Low progesterone levels can be caused by several known factors or unknown factors. Due to the complexity of hormones, some women may have no difficulty getting pregnant but for some reason, the placenta does not create the proper levels when it should. Researchers believe that high levels of stress, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise can contribute to low progesterone levels. Certain medications can also interfere with the body’s ability to produce progesterone.
Treatment for Low Progesterone:
Diagnosing low progesterone can be done by a blood test that measures your level after ovulation and by ovulation charting. Progesterone is responsible for the spike in body temperature after ovulation. If there is no increase in body temperature, progesterone levels may be low. Women should never attempt to self diagnose or self treat a suspected hormonal imbalance as low progesterone symptoms mimic symptoms of other disorders.
Progesterone creams, shots and vaginal suppositories are available once a diagnosis is made. Generally, a progesterone supplement is taken right after ovulation to boost progesterone levels. Many times, when a woman is supplemented with progesterone, it is taken until 12 weeks or so but sometimes, it is taken for the duration of the pregnancy.
The most important thing to remember is to talk to your doctor about your fertility and pregnancy loss concerns. There are many reasons why couples may have difficulty becoming pregnant or maintaining a pregnancy aside from progesterone. If are concerned that you have low progesterone, talk to your doctor.
For more information about progesterone and fertility visit:
JustMommies.com Luteal Phase
JustMommies.com Progesterone & Pregnancy
JustMommies.com Recurrent Miscarriage