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Progesterone – Uses, Side Effects and More

Hormones play a vital role in our bodies. Our bodies comprise multiple hormones and a slight imbalance in any of them can lead to issues – sometimes simple and sometimes serious.

It is important to maintain your hormonal balance and take corrective measures when any of them go out of balance. Progesterone is one such hormone that plays a vital role in a female’s body. Come, let’s take a detailed look at this hormone that is responsible for various important functions in a woman’s body.

Book an online appointment with Dr. Sowmya Choudri Valluri for Pregnancy & Gynecology related issues.

What is Progesterone?

So, what is progesterone hormone? Progesterone is an important hormone that is responsible for supporting a woman’s menstruation and early stages of pregnancy. Hormones send chemical messages to various parts of the body, telling them how to work.

The progesterone levels in a woman’s body change with her menstrual cycle. When she is ovulating, the progesterone levels increase and will increase further if she gets pregnant. If conception does not happen, the progesterone levels will start decreasing, leading to shedding of the uterine wall, which is nothing but her period.

Progesterone is very important for a male’s reproductive health too. It is responsible for producing sperm, maintaining muscle mass and a healthy prostate. It is also the building block for testosterone – the sex hormone in males.

What is the Need for Progesterone Hormone?

Progesterone is an important hormone in both males and females. It helps maintain their reproductive health. This hormone is responsible for important functions like:

  • Regulating a woman’s menstrual cycle and bleeding
  • Thickening the uterine wall to support implantation and pregnancy
  • Supporting the thyroid gland
  • Helping in lactation post-delivery
  • Improving moods
  • Preventing erectile issues in men
  • Supporting muscle mass in males.

Importance of Progesterone Hormone During Pregnancy

For a successful pregnancy, the egg must attach to the uterine wall and stay that way until it is time for the baby’s birth. A thick uterine lining facilitates this attachment and the growth of the baby.

Once the egg leaves the follicle and starts descending the fallopian tube to meet the sperm, the body starts making progesterone. When the sperm successfully fertilizes the egg, leading to conception, the body produces a hormone known as hCG. This hCG will indicate the body to make more progesterone to help thicken the uterine lining called the endometrium.

So, the progesterone levels start increasing right before conception and continue to increase throughout the pregnancy, to ensure the egg stays attached and grows in the uterus. If the progesterone levels start decreasing, the thickness of the uterine lining will also decrease. This can cause the developing egg to detach, thus leading to early labor or a miscarriage.

When Should a Woman Take Progesterone?

  • Menstrual Cycle Regulation
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
  • Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)
  • Pregnancy Support
  • Management of Menopausal Symptoms

How to Increase Progesterone Naturally?

Wondering how to increase progesterone levels in your body during pregnancy or when you are trying? Here are a few tips:

  • Consume a healthy diet rich in Vitamin C, B, zinc , magnesium , L-Arginine and Fiber
  • Ensure you get a good 8 hours of sleep every night
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce your stress levels
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight

If natural methods do not help and the low progesterone is affecting your chances of pregnancy, your doctor might prescribe medications to increase progesterone levels. These medicines can be in the form of pills, injections or a gel that you need to apply inside your vagina.

What Happens When Progesterone is High?

High levels of progesterone in the body can cause –

  • Headaches
  • Tenderness in breasts
  • Constipation or digestive issues
  • Mood swings
  • Increase in vaginal discharge
  • Pain in muscles and joints or fatigue
  • Runny nose, frequent sneezes or coughs

It is natural for the progesterone levels to increase during ovulation and pregnancy. However, if a woman is not pregnant and a progesterone test shows high levels, it can indicate –

  • She is not ovulating properly, which can in turn affect her chances of conception
  • Amenorrhea – not having a menstrual period during the menstrual age
  • The presence of ovarian cysts or molar pregnancy

If the levels are too high even for a pregnant woman, it may be due to the following reasons:

  • Ectopic pregnancy – The egg attaches outside the uterine wall, mostly in the fallopian tube itself.
  • Multiple Pregnancy – If you are carrying more than one baby, the progesterone levels can increase accordingly.

What Happens if Progesterone is Low?

As progesterone hormone is responsible for maintaining your menstrual cycle and supporting the early stages of pregnancy, a dip in these levels can affect your reproductive health. Low progesterone can lead to irregular periods and can also make it difficult to maintain pregnancy.

The lack of sufficient progesterone will limit your body’s ability to form a thick uterine lining to support implantation and pregnancy. Progesterone is also important to help the embryo grow into a baby. The uterine lining has to be thick and the embryo should continue to grow throughout the pregnancy. So, low progesterone can lead to preterm labor or even a miscarriage.

Progesterone is balanced by another hormone called estrogen. Low progesterone can lead to high estrogen which can lead to side effects like:

  • Increase in weight
  • Depression or feeling low
  • Decrease in libido
  • Increase in menstrual bleeding
  • Difficulty in getting pregnant.

In the case of men, low progesterone can cause:

  • Mood swings or depression
  • Reduction in muscle mass
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Low libido.

Conclusion

Progesterone is an important hormone for both men and women. While a fluctuation in this hormone’s levels is normal, too low or too high levels of progesterone can have side effects on your health. If you suspect an imbalance, it is important to take a progesterone test and get treated accordingly.

FAQs

1. What does progesterone do in the body?

For a woman, it helps maintain her menstrual cycle and support pregnancy. For men, it helps retain muscle mass and produce sperm.

2. Why do females need progesterone?

Females need the right amount of progesterone for regular menstrual cycles and for a successful pregnancy.

3. Can I get pregnant on progesterone?

There is no evidence suggesting that taking progesterone in any form can increase your chances of pregnancy. While progesterone helps retain and support the pregnancy, there is no proof that it can lead to pregnancy.

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