When you're pregnant, your body experiences an influx of raging hormones. Depending on what the hormone of the day is, you may feel nauseated, angry, aroused, depressed, exhausted, and a number of other wonderful feelings. Progesterone is a naturally-occurring hormone that already exists in your body. It is produced by your ovaries as part of your menstrual cycle. When you are pregnant, this hormone is also produced by the placenta starting between weeks 10-12.
Progesterone helps thicken the lining of your uterus during your menstrual cycle to prepare your body to implant a fertilized egg. Once you are pregnant, progesterone also helps with breast milk production. Without it, or when you have very low levels of progesterone, you may experience issues that affect your fertility, your overall health, and that of your baby.
Signs and Symptoms of Low Progesterone Levels
Unfortunately, a miscarriage can be a sign of low progesterone levels. In almost 99 percent of pregnant women recently tested for low levels of progesterone, their pregnancies were non-viable. If you have more than one miscarriage in a row, talk to your doctor about your progesterone levels and consider having them checked. Most miscarriages that stem from low progesterone levels in your body occur before week 10, the time before the placenta takes over production.
If you think you may have low progesterone levels, get levels tested before you try to conceive. Some signs that you may have low progesterone levels include a low sex drive or painful intercourse, persistent fatigue, frequent or irregular menstruation, ovarian cysts, weight changes, migraines, and insomnia. Many of these symptoms mimic other health issues, so talk to your doctor about your concerns specifically related to pregnancy.
Causes of Low Progesterone Levels
Not every cause of low progesterone levels is known and many women miscarry or fail to conceive for other reasons. However, a few things that doctors know can affect progesterone levels are: stress and anxiety, poor nutrition, certain medications, and a lack of exercise. As part of a plan to help yourself get to a level of health where your body can conceive and sustain a pregnancy, think about making some lifestyle changes that may increase your chances of success.
Ways to Boost Progesterone Levels in Pregnancy
If you are trying to get pregnant and have been told your progesterone levels are low, there are supplements you can take to boost progesterone, often in the form of suppositories. They are not a guaranteed cure, however. Clomid and Prometrium are prescription medications some doctors will use to help boost your levels, although not every woman should take these drugs, depending on other health concerns or side effects. For women who choose to take supplements or use suppositories--or even get hormone shots--dedicated commitment and daily vigilance is required to stay on top of your levels.
There are also some natural ways to help boost your progesterone levels as well. Vitamin B, turmeric, magnesium, dark leafy greens, and animal proteins are all linked to higher progesterone levels.
If you are already pregnant and have low progesterone levels, there is a high, known risk of miscarriage. However, some women have had repeated success in multiple pregnancies by taking supplements and medications. Under the care of your doctor, look into having your progesterone levels tested to see if your body is healthy enough to get pregnant or if your levels will impact your current pregnancy.