You have probably heard a thing or two about progesterone, since it’s one of the most important hormones involved in the regulation of the female reproductive system.
Hormone imbalances can lead to different manifestations that can affect various parts of your body, and high progesterone symptoms are no exception.
Let’s talk about the high progesterone symptoms, and some of its possible causes.
High progesterone symptoms
Your progesterone levels naturally fluctuate throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle or pregnancy, but they should still fall within a normal range.
Under normal circumstances, progesterone levels should be at their highest during ovulation and the luteal phase, which is the portion of your menstrual cycle after ovulation and before your period.
If you’re pregnant, progesterone levels will be elevated throughout the entire pregnancy, but even more so during your third trimester. Women experience a sharp decline in their progesterone levels after menopause.
According to the Society for Endocrinology, most women with elevated progesterone levels don’t experience any significant symptoms or medical complications. But in other cases, women can experience increased symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
A study published by The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that women who had elevated levels of both progesterone and estrogen tended to experience more severe PMS.
According to the Mayo Clinic, PMS symptoms can include:
- Breast tenderness
- Breast swelling
- Appetite changes
- Depressed mood
- Fluid retention and weight gain
- Changes in libido
- Poor concentration
Progesterone and the female body
Progesterone is a type of sex hormone that is heavily involved in the female menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and embryo development.
According to the University of Rochester, progesterone’s most important function is to prepare your uterus for a potential pregnancy each cycle. Among other functions, progesterone stimulates the thickening of the endometrium, which is the innermost layer of the uterus. It also promotes increased blood flow to this layer, with the aim of creating an ideal environment so that a fertilized egg can implant successfully.
When a woman conceives, progesterone continues to play an important role during pregnancy. This hormone reduces muscle tone and contraction in the uterus, which reduces the risk of miscarriage or preterm labor. It also helps prepare breast tissue for milk production and thus, breastfeeding.
Progesterone also plays a role in many other processes in the female human body, including:
- Acting as a neurotransmitter
- Maintain skin elasticity and firmness
- Preserve bone strength
- Regulate body temperature during ovulation
- Reduce gallbladder activity
- Affect gum health
- Normalize blood clotting
So what happens when you have high progesterone levels?
Causes of high progesterone
In many cases, the exact cause of elevated progesterone levels can’t be easily determined. As we mentioned above, women may not experience any symptoms as a result of this hormonal imbalance. Many women take progesterone in their birth control pills — the combined pill contains both estrogen and progesterone, whereas the “mini-pill” only has progesterone in it.
Although rare, it’s possible for high progesterone to be the result of a multiple pregnancy or an undiagnosed health condition. When this happens, high progesterone isn’t the cause of the issue, but rather a manifestation of it. Some of the possible causes of high progesterone include:
Progesterone plays many important roles in the maintenance of pregnancy, so it probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that your body will produce larger quantities of this hormone during a multiple pregnancy to help the babies safe as they develop.
After ovulation and during early pregnancy, progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum — a structure that develops from the mature follicle where the egg was released from. Since there may be more than one corpus luteum in a multiple pregnancy, this helps explain how your body can produce more progesterone if you’re carrying more than one baby.
A study published by the European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology found that elevated progesterone levels during early pregnancy can serve as a predictive marker for twin pregnancies.
A molar pregnancy is a rare occurrence in which the placenta doesn’t develop properly after fertilization, and instead of a fetus and a placenta, a noncancerous tumor develops inside the uterus, making it a non-viable pregnancy.
In most cases of molar pregnancies, progesterone levels are significantly elevated, along with other hormonal imbalances. A study published by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found high progesterone levels in a large majority of molar pregnancies.
Certain ovarian tumors can trigger an increase in progesterone secretion, leading to high levels of this hormone. A study published by the Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica found elevated progesterone levels in different types of benign and malignant ovarian tumors, particularly mucinous tumors.
Written by Andrea Pinto on July 26 2021
- Progesterone - urmc.rochester.edu
- Progesterone - yourhormones.info
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) - mayoclinic.org
- Relationship between symptom severity and hormone changes in women with premenstrual syndrome - pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Assessment of the predictive value of serum progesterone levels on early pregnancy prognosis in spontaneous twin gestations: a prospective study - pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Progesterone concentrations in the sera of patients with intact and aborted hydatidiform moles - sciencedirect.com
- Elevated Progesterone Levels In Serum and Ovarian Venous Blood in Patients With Ovarian Tumors - obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com