There are many different hormones in the regulation of the female reproductive system and all of its functions, and out of all of them, progesterone is one of the most important ones.
Progesterone is responsible for the maintenance of a wide range of processes inside the female body, from triggering menstruation to protecting an early pregnancy, and even regulating blood pressure.
Low progesterone levels can cause health problems and fertility issues. But is it possible to increase your progesterone levels naturally? Let’s find out!
What are the risks of having low progesterone?
Progesterone plays an important role in fertility, and low levels of progesterone can make it difficult for you to conceive or stay pregnant.
Each month, different hormones work together to stimulate your ovaries so an egg is released. Once that egg is released during ovulation, a structure on your ovary called the corpus luteum produces progesterone to increase your chances of conceiving. In order to do so, it makes your endometrium — the innermost layer of the uterus, where fertilized eggs become implanted — grow thicker to help the embryo attach.
According to The National Infertility Association, it also increases blood flow to the endometrium, which makes it easier for the fertilized egg to receive all the nutrients it needs to keep growing.
At the same time, it prevents uterine contractions that could result in pregnancy loss. After approximately 8-10 weeks, the placenta takes over the production of progesterone from the corpus luteum, which decays naturally. Progesterone continues to protect the pregnancy throughout the entire 9 months.
Ways to increase progesterone levels naturally
Some ways to increase progesterone levels naturally include:
- Increase vitamin B and C intake
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Seek medical attention
Increase vitamin B and C
A study published by the Journal of Reproductive Medicine found that taking 200-800mg/day of vitamin B6 was able to reduce symptoms of PMS caused by low progesterone levels, while also reducing excessively high estrogen levels. Foods that contain vitamin B6 include:
- Cottage cheese
- Green peas
Vitamin C could also help regulate your progesterone levels. A study published by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine discovered that vitamin C supplementation improved progesterone levels in patients with luteal phase defects. Foods rich in vitamin C include:
- Citrus fruits
- Bell peppers
- Chili peppers
- Brussel sprouts
Reduce your alcohol intake
Alcohol can cause a significant increase in estrogen, leading to estrogen dominance and low progesterone.
A study published by Oxford University found that even moderate alcohol consumption can be linked to decreased progesterone levels in premenopausal women.
Maintain a healthy body weight
As we mentioned above, your estrogen and progesterone levels are linked. When your body produces too much estrogen, it can lead to an imbalance and decrease your progesterone levels. And one of the most common reasons why estrogen can be elevated is quite simple — obesity.
Fatty tissue stimulates the production of estrogen, leading to these hormonal imbalances.
To prevent this issue, maintain a healthy body weight through strategies such as eating a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise. If you’re having trouble losing weight, your doctor could order tests to rule out other hormonal problems, or guide you in your journey.
Seek medical assistance
If you’re concerned about your progesterone levels, make sure to ask your physician about it.
They can order a simple test to determine your progesterone levels. If your progesterone is too low and causing symptoms or fertility problems, your doctor could also recommend trying out different progesterone creams or pills, which are typically highly effective.
Risks of low progesterone during pregnancy
If your progesterone levels are too low, these natural changes may not occur, making it more difficult for you to conceive.
Low progesterone levels could also increase your risk of suffering from early pregnancy loss, miscarriage, or premature labor. Low progesterone levels during pregnancy can also cause spotting. According to a study published by Elsevier, decreased circulating progesterone can also be found in women who develop pre-eclampsia.
In some cases, detecting decreased levels of progesterone during pregnancy can point to an ectopic pregnancy, in which the embryo becomes implanted outside of the uterine cavity — typically inside one of the fallopian tubes — and isn’t viable.
Risk of low progesterone outside of pregnancy
Women can also experience symptoms of low progesterone when they’re not pregnant. Since this hormone is so widely involved in the menstrual cycle, low progesterone levels can cause abnormal uterine bleeding, and irregular, heavy, or absent periods.
As progesterone decreases, estrogen can become dominant, which can cause more symptoms. According to the Hormone Health Network, other symptoms of low progesterone and high estrogen can include:
- Weight gain
- Concentration problems
- Increased PMS symptoms
- Low libido
- Breast tenderness
- Gallbladder problems
Written by Dr. Andrea Pinto on July 9 2021
- Progesterone and Progestins - hormone.org
- Hormone Therapy for Menopause Symptoms - my.clevelandclinic.org
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) - nhs.uk
- Progesterone - urmc.rochester.edu
- Progesterone - yourhormones.info