Low progesterone can affect the health and well-being of a woman immensely. Being able to recognize low progesterone symptoms early is very important.
But before we discuss the low progesterone symptoms, let us tell you what progesterone is and how it works.
What is progesterone?
Progesterone is a hormone that plays an essential role in regulating your menstruation cycle. It also aids in maintaining the early stages of pregnancy. It is mainly secreted by the corpus luteum, a structure of cells within the ovaries.
Throughout the menstrual cycle, the female hormones fluctuate. In a normal menstruation cycle, progesterone levels increase after ovulation.
It prepares the lining of the uterus for the potential of pregnancy. If the woman is not pregnant, the progesterone level will fall. The uterine lining will start breaking down, causing the menstruation flow.
If the woman does conceive, then the progesterone will continue to prepare the uterine lining. Progesterone helps to provide nutrition for the growth of the fetus.
Once the placenta develops, it will also produce progesterone, so no new eggs are produced and help maintain the progesterone level. Progesterone also helps in the production of breast milk.
Low Progesterone Symptoms:
1. Irregular menstrual cycle
For a normal menstruation cycle, estrogen and progesterone need to work together. But when progesterone levels are low, it will cause hormonal imbalance and may increase estrogen levels. Estrogen dominance can disrupt menstrual cycles.
Hormonal imbalance caused due to low progesterone can cause irregular menstrual cycles, polycystic ovarian syndrome, abdominal cramps, and mid-cycle spotting.
Having an irregular menstrual cycle means your uterine lining is not being prepared the way it should. This will cause infertility-related problems if you are trying to conceive.
Early miscarriage or unable to conceive might require hormone replacement therapy. Hormone therapy might help increase progesterone levels and will thicken the uterine lining. Hormonal therapy can increase the chances of conceiving and carrying a healthy pregnancy to term. Hormone therapy has helped many women to conceive and manage their low progesterone symptoms.
2. Mood swings, depression, anxiety
Drop-in progesterone levels will cause mood swings since it is related to your neurotransmitters. Normally after the age of 30, progesterone levels will drop naturally.
The first symptom to appear will be frequent mood swings. Low levels of progesterone decrease serotonin which is commonly known as the happy chemical. A decrease in serotonin levels can result in depression, anxiety, and sleep-related problems.
Women with a normal progesterone level can experience similar symptoms after the luteal phase of their menstruation cycle. After the luteal phase, the progesterone level starts falling naturally. It is known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and can greatly affect a woman’s emotional and physical health.
3. Weight gain
Low progesterone levels can slow down your metabolism, which will decrease your ability to burn fat. A healthy level of progesterone helps the thyroid, which produces hormones to maintain the metabolism rate. If the thyroid is unable to get the required support, it will not work properly. With weakened thyroid, your metabolism rate will slow down.
With decreased metabolic rate gaining weight or becoming obese can become a real problem. With low metabolism, less food is burned for energy, and eating more can easily gain weight gain. Unexplained weight gain is one of the most common low progesterone symptoms.
In older women, this can be a natural side effect of aging. But for women under 40 years of age, unexplained weight gain can be a sign of low progesterone levels.
4. Low libido
Women with low progesterone levels might have problems with having decreased sex drive and experience severe fatigue. If no other underlying reasons are causing low libido or fatigue, then low progesterone level might be the reason behind it.
Low progesterone symptoms like abdominal pain, sore breasts, vaginal dryness, and low blood sugar can also be a reason for low libido.
Menopause symptoms like low libido, decreased energy, and foggy thinking are very common due to decreased hormone levels.
5. Migraines/headache and hot flashes
Having migraines and headaches, particularly before or during your menstrual cycle, can be a low progesterone symptom.
Low progesterone level increases the estrogen level, which can cause the widening of the blood vessels and water retention, triggering headaches.
Hot flashes during your menstrual cycle can be due to the hormonal imbalance caused by low levels of progesterone. Women with symptoms such as vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and night sweats can benefit from hormone therapy.
6. Fibroids and Endometriosis
With a fall in progesterone levels, estrogen levels increase which creates a hormonal imbalance. When estrogen level is not balanced with progesterone levels, it can cause estrogen dominance.
Estrogen dominance can lead to fibroids formation, endometriosis, heavier cycle, cysts, and cystic breasts. You can easily avoid this problem if the progesterone and estrogen levels are balanced.
How to treat low progesterone symptoms?
If you have low progesterone symptoms, you need to get yourself checked by a healthcare provider. Finding the exact underlying cause will help you get the right treatment. We are going to share some common methods used to treat low progesterone symptoms.
1. Natural Remedies
Natural remedies include diet and lifestyle changes to manage low progesterone symptoms. If followed strictly, it might be able to solve the root problem and ease the symptoms. Following are some methods to help manage low progesterone levels naturally:
Although no food product contains progesterone, many people believe they can help the body produce more progesterone. It can be beneficial for people experiencing low progesterone symptoms. Some foods claimed to help produce more progesterone include:
Zinc is considered vital during pregnancy and plays a vital role in pregnancy. Some people believe eating zinc-rich diets can reduce low progesterone symptoms and regulate their menstrual cycle. Foods rich in zinc include:
- Poultry foods
Vitamin B-6 helps in regulating hormone levels. Foods containing high levels of vitamin B-6 include:
Too much stress can cause hormonal imbalances in the body. Lifestyle changes to reduce stress can effectively restore hormonal balance.
Exercising regularly, meditation and journaling are very useful for managing stress. Less stress can improve low progesterone symptoms.
Not getting enough sleep or having irregular sleeping habits can have many negative effects on the body.
Adults should get between 8-9 hours of sleep daily for their bodies to function normally and stay healthy. Getting the required amount of sleep daily can help people with hormonal imbalances.
A person with a habit of sleeping less than 8 hours a day can experience low progesterone level symptoms. With a simple lifestyle change, the symptoms might vanish on their own.
People who suffer from obesity tend to produce higher levels of estrogen, which causes progesterone imbalance. Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce hormonal imbalance. Following a proper diet and regularly working out can help maintain a healthy weight. If an underlying disease causes weight gain, You might require medication or supplements to lose weight.
Refrain from over-exercising
Though physical activity is needed to maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress, too much of anything can be harmful. Excessive exercise can harm the body, and produce more stress hormones over progesterone which may worsen the symptoms.
2. Medical Treatment
Depending on the cause of the symptoms the patient has, doctors will prescribe different forms of treatment. They will also take into consideration if the treatment can cause any side effects.
- You may recommend topical cream or gel to patients with sensitivity to oral progesterone to reduce low progesterone symptoms.
- Intramuscular injections of progesterone or progesterone suppositories may be recommended for preventing preterm birth.
- Progesterone supplements with hormone replacement therapy might be prescribed to patients for menopause symptoms. The treatment combines progestin and estrogen in a pill or skin patch form.
Blood tests are done to detect low progesterone levels, after which further tests can help identify the underlying cause.
Normal serum progesterone test results should fall in the following ranges:
- Postmenopausal women and women at the beginning of their menstrual cycle: 1ng/mL or under
- Women in the middle of their menstrual cycle: 5 to 20ng/mL
- Pregnant women in their first trimester: 11.2 to 90ng/mL
- Pregnant women in their second trimester: 25.6 to 89.4ng/mL
- Pregnant women in their third trimester: 48.4 to 42.5ng/mL
Abnormal test results:
Any result which falls outside the normal range is considered abnormal. A single abnormal result is normal in some cases since progesterone levels can fluctuate throughout the day.
Abnormally high or low levels of progesterone may be a sign of an underlying health problem.
In addition to pregnancy, a high level of progesterone can be caused by:
- Ovarian cancer
- Adrenal cancer
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
Low progesterone levels can be caused by:
- Lack of periods
- Failure to ovulate
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Fetal death
All the information mentioned here is only for reference purposes. To get an accurate result, one should consult a doctor if they suspect they have low progesterone symptoms. Trying to treat low progesterone levels at home might worsen the condition. The best step to take is to consult a doctor right away.
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