Updated: Mar 30, 2021
By Dr. Marika Berni, ND
Progesterone is a female sex hormone that is crucial to a healthy menstrual cycle. It’s levels rise in the second half of your cycle after ovulation in order to prepare your uterine lining for implantation of a fertilized egg. If there is no fertilized egg, then progesterone levels will fall and menstruation will begin. It is has a huge role in regulating your cycle.
Signs your progesterone may be low:
Headaches or migraines
Irregular menstrual cycle – short luteal phase ( if the time from ovulation to your period is less than 10 days), mid cycle spotting or spotting before your period
PMS or mood changes such as anxiety or depression
Infertility – spotting and miscarriage
Signs of estrogen dominance (due to the low progesterone estrogen can become dominant) such as weight gain, decreased sex drive, heavy menstrual bleeding, breast tenderness,
Progesterone levels can drop for a few different reasons. Thyroid dysfunction, polycystic ovarian syndrome, peri-menopause, and high prolactin levels can all cause abnormal cycles with infrequent ovulation, which leads to low progesterone levels (it is the corpus luteum that is released in ovulation which produces the progesterone). Stress is also a contributor to low levels of progesterone as it triggers the production of stress hormones by converting progesterone to cortisol.
If you think your levels may be low you can check your levels either through standard blood work or a DUTCH test – using dried urine.
Once confirmed, diet and lifestyle factors can have a great impact – reducing sugar and ensuring a whole foods diet, high in fiber and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage).
Botanicals such as Vitex agnus-cactus (Chaste tree), or maca can naturally support progesterone levels. In some instances if symptoms and imbalance is severe bioidentical progesterone cream may be considered. Maintaining a proper body weight is important as excess weight causes the body to produce more estrogen, which can cause an imbalance in with progesterone. Important nutrients to consider include magnesium, vitamin B6, zinc, magnesium and vitamin C all help to improve progesterone levels.
It is very important to make sure that your progesterone levels are balanced for symptom reduction, disease prevention and especially if your are trying to conceive.
If you think that your progesterone levels are showing signs of imbalance, book a complimentary 15 minute consultation with Dr. Marika Berni to see how she can help you balance out your progesterone levels!
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