Hormonal imbalance is probably the biggest struggle for women who wish to get pregnant.
Each month we experience highs and lows of our hormones which can cause different symptoms such as irritability, acne, migraines, or anxiety.
When we hit menopause, it sometimes feels that our body is against us. We wish to stop the madness and wonder why we feel this way.
Why do some women feel so calm while some go crazy and are all over the place?
The answer to all your questions lies in that you may be suffering from an unknown hormonal imbalance.
Our hormones need to work like a symphony to support us throughout the month. But first, we need to understand the role of progesterone in the female menstrual cycle.
The two major female sex hormones that fluctuate throughout the month are progesterone and estrogen.
Progesterone And Its Role in the Menstrual Cycle
In a normal menstrual cycle, progesterone levels rise after ovulation to build the lining of the uterus to sustain any potential pregnancy.
It is also responsible for the thickening of the uterine wall. In no pregnancy, progesterone levels then drop, thus stimulating your cycle.
Progesterone levels change throughout our menstrual cycle. Below is how our progesterone levels change from day one to the last day of our cycle.
The Follicular Phase
The first part of our menstrual cycle is the follicular phase. Our progesterone levels are low at 0.89 ng/ml in this phase.
The Ovulatory Phase
During ovulation or the ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle, progesterone levels rise to 12 ng/ml.
After ovulation, the corpus luteum starts working, and during this part of the cycle, our progesterone levels see a sharp increase.
The Luteal Phase
The third part of our menstrual cycle, the luteal phase, comes after ovulation. In this phase, our progesterone levels are at their peak — 1.8-24 ng/ml. This phase is usually marked by the 21st till the 25th day of the menstrual cycle.
During this phase checking your progesterone levels can indicate if ovulation took place. Progesterone levels above 10 ng/ml indicate normal ovulation. But if your progesterone levels are lower than that, this indicates that either ovulation didn’t occur or the corpus luteum didn’t produce enough progesterone after ovulation.
The Menstrual Phase
When pregnancy does not occur in a menstrual cycle, the corpus luteum stops working, which causes our progesterone levels to drop.
Usually, about four days before our period begins, our progesterone levels are the same as the first day of our cycle.
This, in return, triggers our period, where our progesterone levels are the lowest.
Progesterone Levels During Pregnancy
If pregnancy occurs, progesterone levels increase with time as the fetus develops. In the first trimester of normal pregnancies, our progesterone levels are 11–44 ng/ml.
During this time, any progesterone levels lower than 5 ng/ml are considered abnormal.
Progesterone And Birth Control
Birth control methods such as the pill, patch, or ring suppress ovulation can also cause low progesterone levels.
This is because no ovulation means the corpus luteum will not produce progesterone. Any birth control method blocks progesterone receptors.
Common Low Progesterone Symptoms
So, what are the tell-tale signs or symptoms of low progesterone? Here are six common low progesterone symptoms
1. Migraines Or Headaches
Migraines or headaches without any reason could be due to low progesterone levels.
Women with low progesterone tend to get migraines or headaches, particularly when their cycle is ending or during it.
This could also be due to our elevated levels of estrogen with low levels of progesterone.
High estrogen levels may cause water retention and vasodilation, triggering migraines or headaches.
2. Anxiety Or Depression Due to Mood Swings
Hungry? Tired? Feeling irritable without any reason? Low progesterone levels can cause mood swings.
This is because progesterone is directly related to our neurotransmitters, particularly GABA.
When a woman’s body is low in progesterone, she may have anxiety, depression, irritability, and even insomnia that worsens right before her cycle.
3. Weight Gain for No Reason
Your unexplained weight gain could be due to a hormonal imbalance of the two female hormones. If you find it hard to lose weight, ensuring hormonal balance is its solution.
Even if you eat clean and exercise regularly, losing weight with hormonal imbalance is next to impossible. That’s why we recommend visiting your healthcare provider if there is any unexplained weight gain.
4. Endometriosis And Fibroids
With low levels of progesterone comes fibroids and endometriosis.
High estrogen, otherwise known as estrogen dominance if not balanced with progesterone, can lead to fibroids, cysts, cystic breasts, endometriosis, and heavier cycles.
The good news is that women can avoid all these symptoms.
A woman with low progesterone levels should visit her doctor and work with them to balance female hormone levels.
5. Irregular Menstrual Cycle or Irregular Periods
Progesterone and estrogen are the two female hormones responsible for regulating our cycle.
Typically, a menstrual cycle lasts anywhere between 21 to 35 days.
If a women’s cycle lasts much longer or shorter, it might be due to low progesterone levels.
Some women have difficulty conceiving. The hidden cause could be low levels of progesterone.
Although miscarriages and infertility can have many root causes, you should have your progesterone levels checked if you are struggling to get pregnant or keep your pregnancy.
Progesterone plays an important part in thickening the endometrial lining and getting the uterus ready for pregnancy.
If the wall lining is not thick enough, it fails to sustain the egg; thus, pregnancy either does not occur, or the woman miscarries.
How To Increase Your Progesterone Levels?
A few treatment methods to increase progesterone levels include:
Oral Progesterone Pills
These pills are usually prescribed for irregular menstrual cycles and uterine building. Your doctor or gynecologist determines the dose and administration.
Depending on your progesterone levels, these are to be inserted once or twice a day.
A healthcare provider prescribes progesterone creams.
It is usually found in a gel form that comes in dosed applicators, making it easy to use. It gets inserted into the vagina every other day for at least six doses.
Progesterone, although it plays an important part in our menstrual cycle, its levels naturally decline as we age.
Decreased progesterone levels inevitably affect your cycle, making it anovulatory and irregular.
Low progesterone levels can be caused by things outside the reproductive system such as cholesterol levels and thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal gland issues.
Once a doctor determines the root cause with the help of a progesterone test or a blood test, they can prescribe the appropriate treatment for it.
Keeping track of your menstrual cycle can offer unique insights into your body and guide you towards improved health and wellness and a better life.