Progesterone is an important steroid hormone produced in the female body. It's critical for the regulation of a woman's menstrual cycle and helping to sustain a viable pregnancy. During the second half of a woman's menstrual cycle, after ovulation, the body creates the corpus luteum.
The corpus luteum is a temporary endocrine gland that secretes progesterone. If an egg isn't fertilized, levels of progesterone drop, and the corpus luteum disintegrates, resulting in a menstrual period. Understanding the importance of progesterone and the impact it has on a woman's body helps women make better reproductive choices.
Progesterone is critical for women's fertility. During the second half of the menstrual, the endometrium (lining of the uterus) thickens in preparation for egg implantation. Progesterone encourages the lining to thicken to support a fertilized egg.
Another function is that progesterone prevents uterine contractions. Flexing of the uterus during implantation may inadvertently harm the implantation process. If implantation is successful, the corpus luteum continues to produce progesterone to help support a healthy pregnancy.
Progesterone also prevents the woman from ovulating again during pregnancy and plays an essential role in milk production. If implantation is unsuccessful, progesterone levels drop and the corpus luteum breaks down, triggering a period.
Low levels of progesterone result in problems with menstrual cycles, including short or long periods. Some women may have issues with conception because low progesterone levels may not signal to the corpus luteum to grow strong enough. It may impair the egg from implanting correctly, resulting in a miscarriage. Or since progesterone helps sustain a pregnancy, low levels may result in preterm delivery.
Low progesterone affects each woman differently, but there are some common signs, including:
Since progesterone and estrogen are both hormones that help regulate menstrual cycles, having low progesterone might trigger high estrogen levels. High estrogen levels are generally associated with menopause, but women at any age may have a hormonal imbalance. When women become estrogen dominant, it may result in unexplained weight gain, decreased sexual libido, insomnia, and hot flashes.
Women can increase progesterone levels naturally through diet and creams. The following foods help boost progesterone production.
Another option for increasing progesterone levels is natural progesterone cream. You can find high-quality progesterone cream that the body can naturally absorb through the skin. Depending on the instructions, you apply the progesterone cream 1-2 times per day, usually on the thinner areas of your skin. More delicate areas include the wrists, thighs, neck, soles of the feet, and the palms of the hands. In essence, your replacing the missing progesterone with bioidentical hormones.
Progesterone is a crucial hormone in women's reproductive health. Optimal levels ensure a regular menstrual cycle and a healthy pregnancy. When low, women may suffer from abnormal periods or struggle with infertility. If you suspect you have low progesterone, speak to your healthcare professional about hormone therapy.