What is Progesterone (And How Does It Affect Your Pregnancy?)

July 31st, 2019
What is Progesterone

Contrary to popular belief, getting pregnant isn’t easy.

Getting pregnant involves a symphony of reproductive factors working together. A woman should have strong eggs, ideal uterine conditions, a healthy cervix, and proper hormone levels, among other criteria. If just one of these elements is off (or not up to par), it can cause a myriad of fertility struggles.

One of the most significant contributing factors to a woman’s ability to conceive is her progesterone level.

Not many know a lot about progesterone. It’s only natural for one to want to learn what it is and how it factors into whether you are able to conceive.

What is Progesterone?

When women think about their hormones, one word usually comes to mind: estrogen.

While estrogen is vital to pregnancy success, its lesser-known counterpart, progesterone, is just as crucial.

  • Primarily produced in a woman’s ovaries after ovulation, progesterone helps women’s bodies do a variety of processes, including building strong bones
  • Increasing metabolism
  • Preventing endometrial cancer
  • Helping get better sleep
  • Improving hair growth

Yet, progesterone has its greatest impact on a woman’s reproductive capability. It’s the hormone that prepares a woman’s uterine lining for a fertilized egg after conception. During the second half of a woman’s menstrual cycle, this vital hormone causes the endometrial lining to release necessary proteins, which allow the developing embryo to implant. After implantation, progesterone continues to support and nourish the woman’s baby during pregnancy.

How Do You Know if Your Progesterone Level is Low?

Throughout a woman’s childbearing years, low progesterone primarily affects her ability to conceive or sustain a pregnancy. When a woman is struggling to get pregnant, one of the first assessments her doctor will do is a hormone level blood test to see if this is a factor.

Once a woman has conceived, her body will depend on a continued supply of progesterone to support the development of her baby. Without an increased level of this hormone, she may experience a miscarriage or fetal death.

Even if you’re not pregnant, you can still have side effects from low progesterone.

Often, these ill effects present themselves as things like headaches, irregular or absent periods, mood swings, and anxiety or depression.

Without an appropriate level of progesterone, women will often have heightened estradiol levels that can cause additional side effects, such as:

  • Weight gain
  • Diminished sex drive
  • Fibroids
  • Gallbladder issues
  • Breast tenderness

Whether you’re currently pregnant or want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s crucial to ensure your body has the correct balance of estrogen and progesterone.

Is There a Treatment for Hormonal Imbalance?

If a woman’s doctor believes she’s suffering from a hormonal imbalance, he or she will likely administer a progesterone test (PGSN). This simple blood test can be performed without preparation and provides information on the hormonal activity in a woman’s body.

Whether she’s attempting to get pregnant or not, a suitable amount of progesterone is highly beneficial to a woman’s system.

Women with low progesterone levels often receive one of the following treatments:

  • Creams and gels
  • Suppositories
  • Oral medications

Sadly, if you suffer from conditions like endometrial cancer, liver disease, blood clots, or stroke, you might not be eligible for one of these treatment options.

Natural Ways to Increase Progesterone

If women prefer homeopathic remedies or can’t take hormone therapy drugs, there are also natural treatment options available to increase their level of progesterone.

Decrease Stress

When a woman is in high-stress situations, her body goes into overdrive producing higher levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. The process affects the ovaries which begin converting progesterone into more cortisol.

By reducing her stress level, a woman’s reproductive system can return to its natural pattern of progesterone development.

Retain Normal Body Weight

For most biological processes in a woman’s body, a good balance of estrogen and progesterone are required. If she loses or gains an unhealthy amount of weight, it can lead to significant changes in the amount of estrogen being produced in her fat cells.

When this happens, her ovaries don’t realize they need to produce more or less progesterone to keep up. Maintaining a healthy weight doesn’t necessarily increase or decrease the amount of progesterone in a woman’s body. However, it does ensure there’s a balance between the two hormones.

Talk to Your Doctor About Chasteberry

Chasteberry is a natural herb thought to increase the level of progesterone in a woman’s body. Also known for aiding irregular periods and PMS, it stimulates the pituitary glands to produce more luteinizing hormones. This process, in turn, encourages the ovaries to make more progesterone.

Is a Hormonal Imbalance Affecting Your Ability to Conceive?

A woman who’s unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant often becomes desperate to answer one question: “Why?”

There’s many different reasons why infertility occurs. Thankfully, there’s usually a way to treat them – including increasing progesterone if it’s too low. Creating balance within your hormone levels can assist your reproductive system in behaving more efficiently.

When it comes to low progesterone levels, simple solutions can make a world of difference.

By talking with your doctor and deciding on a treatment plan, you’ll be helping your body do the work it’s meant to be doing in the first place. Higher progesterone levels mean a hospitable environment for developing embryos and a better chance of getting pregnant and carrying to term.

So, when you finally get the positive pregnancy test you’ve been hoping for, say a little thank you to the progesterone hormone that helped you get there.

Oh, and you can thank progesterone for the morning sickness as well.

If you think your body could be low in progesterone or you have concerns over your infertility, please contact us today for more information.

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