Progesterone levels influence more than fertility. Find out more about low progesterone symptoms and what you can do to rebalance your hormones.
In this article:
- What Is Progesterone?
- Low Progesterone Symptoms
- What Causes Low Progesterone?
- Should I Go to the Doctor If I Have Low Progesterone Symptoms?
- Low Progesterone Treatment
Low Progesterone Symptoms Could Mean Trouble
What Is Progesterone?
Progesterone belongs to a class of hormones called progestogens. Like estrogens, progestogens are sex hormones that impact sexual development and reproduction.
After ovulation, the follicle around the egg collapses, and an area called the corpus luteum develops in the ovaries. The corpus luteum then produces progesterone. Adrenal glands also produce some progesterone, and during pregnancy, the placenta produces it as well.
Progesterone affects the breasts, uterus, cervix, vagina, and testes. It also has an impact on the brain, bones, and blood vessels.
Many people associate progesterone with fertility because it plays a vital role in reproduction. More specifically, progesterone:
- Stops endometrium (the lining in the uterus) build-up
- Decreases cervical mucus
- Prevents ovulation at times
- Prepares the uterus for a fertilized egg to implant
- Supports and maintains pregnancy
- Prepares the body for breastfeeding
- Helps men produce sperm
In many ways, sex hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone complement each other. And, problems can arise if your hormones are out of balance.
Low Progesterone Symptoms
Hormone levels fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle. As a result, you might experience some low progesterone symptoms from time to time.
One of the most common symptoms is premenstrual dysphoric disorder(PMDD) and everything that accompanies it. It’s normal to experience breast tenderness, bloating, and mood swings in the days leading up to menses when progesterone levels are lower. But, if PMDD lasts longer, it’s time to have your hormone levels checked.
We often think of gynecological issues as estrogen-dependent, but the progesterone-estrogen ratio is equally as significant. When progesterone levels are low, estrogen may become the dominant hormone and cause a slew of problems.
Well-known symptoms of low progesterone and high estrogen levels include:
- Depression, anxiety, and other mood changes
- Memory lapses or brain fog
- Sleep issues
- Menstrual changes, for instance, break-through bleeding
- Headaches or migraines
- Fibroids, fibrocystic breast, and ovarian cysts
- Metabolic changes, like weight gain and sugar cravings
- Lower libido
After ovulation, progesterone levels increase to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If, however, progesterone levels are low, it doesn’t do this, and a fertilized egg can’t implant. In other words, low progesterone can affect fertility.
Progesterone is vital during pregnancy, and low levels affect pregnant women differently.
Until the baby is born, your body will produce more progesterone, causing nausea and breast tenderness. Progesterone is essential in maintaining the uterus during pregnancy. If levels are too low, the risk of a miscarriage or premature birth increases.
Lastly, low progesterone may cause an ectopic pregnancy. With an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg attaches to something other than the uterus, such as the fallopian tube or cervix.
An embryo can’t grow well outside the uterus, and it can cause fetal death. What’s more, if left untreated, it may be life-threatening to the expectant mother.
What Causes Low Progesterone?
Progesterone levels are at their highest during the childbearing years. It’s natural to produce less as we age. Your environment and lifestyle may also have an impact, as well as some medical conditions.
Low progesterone symptoms appear because of indirect causes that unbalance your hormones.
Apart from menopause, conditions such as hypothyroidism, or polycystic ovary syndrome, can cause irregular or absent ovulation. If you don’t ovulate, your body doesn’t produce progesterone.
A miscarriage can also cause progesterone levels to be lower than usual.
What You Eat
Your diet can influence more than just your waistline. To increase growth, farmers feed hormones to livestock, which ends up in your system.
Additionally, fat cells make estrogen. So, extra fat means extra estrogen, which can inhibit progesterone production. To make matters worse, more estrogen stores more fat.
Environment and Lifestyle
Most lifestyle choices and environmental factors can influence hormone production, from chronic stress to excessive drinking. Some other contributing factors include:
- Heavy metals
- Ingredients in personal care products
- Birth control
- Some plastics
The list goes on, and while you can’t control everything, if left unchecked, your lifestyle can wreak havoc on your hormones.
Should I Go to the Doctor If I Have Low Progesterone Symptoms?
If you notice low progesterone symptoms, it’s best to talk to a healthcare professional and get a progesterone test. It’s a simple blood test that indicates whether you’re ovulating or not and could confirm the reasons you’re struggling to conceive.
Low Progesterone Treatment
Not everyone requires medical treatment. In some cases, dealing with the cause can help rebalance your hormones. For example, eating organic food and switching to paraben-free cosmetics.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to conceive or pregnant, bioidentical hormone therapy (BHRT) may help. Your doctor may also prescribe BHRT for menstrual issues and menopause.
Treatment options include:
- Topical creams
- Pellets (Rice grain-sized implant)
In the past, many people were hesitant to get hormone therapy because of administration methods and safety issues. Today, however, BHTR therapy is safe and effective.
If you don’t want injections or the inconvenience of taking a pill every day, BHRT pellets are your best option. It’s a small implant that releases hormones gradually, and your body determines the rate of absorption.
Low progesterone symptoms can affect your day-to-day life. It’s vital to keep your hormones balanced, especially if you’re trying to conceive. You can rebalance your hormones through lifestyle changes and bio-identical hormone therapy.
Are you experiencing any low progesterone symptoms? Give us a call and book your consultation today! We have offices in Daytona, Ocala, Orlando, and Fruitland Park and proudly serve Central Floridians.