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What is Progesterone?
Welcome to this post on progesterone.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s first make sure we all understand what exactly what progesterone is.
Progesterone is a natural steroid / hormone?that’s secreted primarily by the female reproductive system, but it is also produced in men’s bodies in smaller amounts.
It is a member of the hormone group of progestogens / progestins (progestins being the synthetic variety.) The synthetic forms come in supplement form, in birth-control products, as hormones provided in hormone replacement therapy or in medications meant to correct excessive bleeding problems during menstruation.
In women it is created by the ovaries, placenta and the adrenal glands and is utilized for regulating the inner lining?of the uterus.
What Does Progesterone Do?
Progesterone?is intimately connected with the female menstrual cycle, with pregnancy and in embryogenesis. Healthy levels of progesterone are pivotal for a healthy pregnancy. It’s so important that it is sometimes referred to as the pregnancy hormone.?The hormone also act to remedy PMS symptoms, infertility and miscarriage / pregnancy losses.
Progesterone levels increase substantially once a woman becomes pregnant. The ovaries and placenta take on the burden of producing these increased levels of the hormone.
Apart from pregnancy, progesterone regulates and balances many female hormonal systems. Changing levels can cause abnormal menstrual cycles and symptoms similar to menopause. For example it’s often used to treat irregular periods.
But, it’s not just important for women.
Men also need progesterone. Male?bodies create it as well and utilize it to help balance out the effects that estrogen have on the male body. It’s even a precursor to testosterone, which is the male sex hormone.
NOTE: While men do in fact create and utilize progesterone, we won’t be discussing much about them in this post. It’s mostly aimed at females.
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Important distinctions of terms used in this post:
Progesterone: This term refers to the natural hormone created by the body. It also includes “natural progesterone”, which is an identical hormone that’s been manufactured. It’s also called micronized progesterone.
Progestin: Unlike progesterone, progestin is not produced by the body and is not chemically identical in its structure, and thus it has different effect on the body. It is a synthetic form that has an altered make up. In many ways it has similar effects to natural progesterone, but it is still an artificial form.
All About Progesterone Levels
Now we’ll talk about the?important things to know about Progesterone levels in the blood.
Maintaining proper serum (blood) levels of progesterone is critical for the health of both genders. Yet it is even more important to keep it regulated for women.
Even more so still for those who are or who wish to become pregnant.
What are?normal progesterone levels?
Below is a normal progesterone level chart:
|Female (pre-ovulation||less than 1 nanogram per milliliter|
|Female (mid-menstrual cycle)||5 to 20 nano grams per milliliter|
|Pregnancy (1st trimester)||11.2 to 90 nano grams per milliliter|
|Pregnancy (2st trimester)||25.6 to 89.4 nano grams per milliliter|
|Pregnancy (3st trimester)||48 to 300+?nano grams per milliliter|
|Postmenopausal||less than 1 nano gram per milliliter|
|Male||less than 1 nano gram per milliliter|
Information worth noting from the chart:
- levels will naturally rise throughout pregnancy.
- Levels are lower prior to ovulation.
- Ovulation and the menstrual cycle causes levels to rise, primarily at the midway point of the cycle.
- Levels will continue to rise until the egg is either successfully or unsuccessfully fertilized (near the end of the cycle.)
- Progesterone helps nourish the fetus, so it will rise accordingly following conception.
- After menopause levels tend to diminish substantially when compared to pre-menopausal women.
- Men will always have low levels of progesterone. Just enough to produce testosterone and to counterbalance estrogen levels.
IMPORTANT: Blood level test?ranges can vary depending on the laboratory that is testing them. Be sure to discuss with your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results, alternatively you can schedule a phone call online to discuss your results with a doctor.
What are High Progesterone Levels? Should I be Concerned if I Have Them?
Sometimes progesterone levels will naturally be higher than other times, and this shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
For example, during ovulation a women should see levels up to 20 nanograms per milliliter. This is much higher than normal, but is essential for the fertilization process of pregnancy. When no pregnancy occurs progesterone levels drop back down. This induces a period.
NOTE: When levels don’t raise during ovulation this is abnormal and there is an increased risk for infertility. If you have been trying to get pregnant without success then it’s a good idea to get your levels tested by a doctor.
When progesterone levels become elevated it signals a likely hormonal imbalance relating to a woman’s uterus and/or menstrual cycle. This can be a red flag for larger?issues.
For example, too much of the hormone has been shown to increase risk for ovarian cysts to grow.?If there’s evidence of a cystic growth it is important for a doctor to investigate progesterone levels as well as other potential causes.
High levels are necessary at times, but?sometimes levels get too high when they shouldn’t which can cause dysfunction.?This can happen due to excessive intake of progestogen/progestin supplements which affect serum progesterone levels.
- birth control?pills
- menopausal hormone replacement therapies
- medication to remedy abnormal / excessive bleeding during menstruation
- Medications used to combat PMS symptoms, infertility and miscarriage?risk
- Multiple-birth pregnancies (not a bad thing)
- molar pregnancies
- certain kinds of ovarian cancer
There are different reasons for high progesterone and a test is recommended to see if it’s being caused by normal ovulation or if the ovulation is abnormal. A test will determine if symptoms related to elevated levels are in fact being caused by high serum levels.
Tests can also detect for a possible pregnancy or miscarriage and determine, if needed, what type of hormonal therapies should be applied.
- Related: Order Progesterone Blood Testing from True Health Labs
- Related: Order Pre-natal?Blood Testing from True Health Labs
- Related: Order Pregnancy Blood Testing from True Health Labs
- More About True Health Labs / How it Works FAQ
What are the Symptoms of High Progesterone Levels?
In the majority of cases women with elevated levels of progesterone noticeable symptoms will appear.
Symptoms of excessive progesterone?include:
- sedation and feelings of lethargy.
- easily irritated
- sensitive / tender breast tissue
- aches and cramps
- vaginal dryness
- loss of sex drive
Additional symtoms are likely over the long term if high levels persist
- stress related to excessive cortisol (cortisol levels raise when too much progesterone is active in the system.)
- food cravings
- weight gain
- allergies / food sensitives
- bacterial overgrowth
- thyroid problems
- sleep deprivation
- excessive PMS symtoms
- persistant tiredness
- weakened bone?health
- diminished?muscle mass
What Should i do if i have High Progesterone Levels?
If you’ve been tested and heard that your levels are in excess there’s some important things to consider.
If you have not been using progesterone products and have a natural imbalance, then talk to your doctor about what the best steps to take next are. You’ll likely need further testing.
If you have been using progesterone products then take the following into account, because you might have been taking in too much of the product.
If you use progesterone creams avoid applying over areas with an abundance of fatty tissue. This is because the cream can absorb and accumulate in the tissue rather than head straight into the blood stream.?Instead, apply your cream on areas with thin skin and veins. This way the hormones won’t build up and will instead all head into the bloodstream to be utilized quickly and efficiently.?The best areas are the neck/throat, arms, wrists, hands and on the top of your feet.
If using a potent form of progesterone then be cautious with your dosing. Doctors and pharmacists will often recommend 200mg a day of a product. This can be excessive for some, as it’s unlikely that the body would ever produce that much in a day on its own. Excesses are much less likely when using a more moderate dosing regimen.?If your levels are high then a good rule of thumb would be to drop your dose down to 60/mg per day.
Some women’s bodies will not accept supplemental progesterone, in any form. This would be caused by a simple case of intolerance. This intolerance can manifest in different ways, including malfunctioning production of the hormone.
If progesterone supplementation is stopped excessive levels should diminish within 1 to 3 months. If you can afford to stop using medication then you might just want to. If you need it to balance out your estrogen levels than switching to a wild yam cream could benefit you. It’s known to be effective at balancing progesterone and estrogen levels.