Hormones have a role to play in fertility and pregnancy. There are some hormones that tend to increase during ovulation and pregnancy, while the levels of others decrease. Progesterone is one such important hormone, released by the ovaries, is critical for the preparation of the endometrium (uterine lining) for implantation (attachment) of a fertilized egg (embryo).
A woman's body produces progesterone to maintain a pregnancy before the placenta takes over production. If a woman's body does not adequately produce progesterone, she may not be able to get pregnant or maintain a pregnancy.
The functions of progesterone hormone include:
How much is the minimum progesterone level?
Sometimes doctors will check a woman's progesterone level during pregnancy. The minimum level of progesterone is considered to be 10 ng/ml during the first few weeks of pregnancy. If the reading is lower than 10 ng/ml, there is a risk of a threatened miscarriage.
Causes of Low Progesterone
Estrogen dominance and an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone hormones are the two main reasons that cause low progesterone. Medical conditions such as diabetes or insulin resistance can also make body produce less progesterone. Among other factors that are associated with skewed levels of progesterone include stress, lack of physical activity and medications.
Signs of Low Progesterone
Migraines, PMS and irregular menstrual cycle are some of the common symptoms of low progesterone. Weight gain, moodiness, fatigue, low libido, vaginal dryness and fibrocystic breasts are among other symptoms of low progesterone.
How to Maintain Progesterone Levels
A woman can maintain progesterone levels by having a healthy diet, engaging in physical activity, getting recommended amount of sleep and limiting stress. Health care practitioner may advise avoiding certain ingredients in foods and cosmetics that emulate estrogen in the body.
[Read: Pregnancy Hormone Diet]
To maintain the hormonal balance, doctor may prescribe shots, pills, creams and vaginal suppositories. Women undergoing assisted reproductive technology procedures such as IVF may need progesterone supplementation. These procedures decrease proper progesterone formation besides depleting progesterone producing cells.
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