Along with estrogen, progesterone is one of the primary female sex hormones. This hormone is associated with pregnancy, and its levels are very important for fertility. They also change when a woman approaches menopause.
Many women are wondering how to test progesterone levels at home. Why might you want to take a home progesterone test? What types of tests are available? How can you choose an at home progesterone test?
Why and how to test progesterone levels
Women may choose to test their progesterone levels for a few different reasons:
- To measure their fertility. A rise in progesterone occurs when a woman ovulates. Testing can determine whether this rise in progesterone occurred in a particular cycle, which can help to determine whether she ovulated during that cycle.
- To determine how close they are to menopause. As women go through menopause, their levels of estrogen and progesterone will decline dramatically. Measuring progesterone along with other hormones (such as estrogen, LH, and FSH) can give a sense of where a woman is in this transition.
- Because they’re having symptoms that could be related to high or low progesterone levels. It may be useful to test estrogen as well, to determine the ratio of estrogen to progesterone.
Progesterone levels can be tested using a blood test or a urine test. The blood test generally measures progesterone directly; this is also known as a serum progesterone test. The urine test usually measures a substance called pregnanediol-3-glucuronide, or PDG. This is a metabolized version of progesterone. The levels of PDG in the urine correlate very closely with the levels of progesterone in the blood, so either one can give an accurate measurement of your progesterone. Saliva tests are also sometimes used to measure progesterone, but research has not consistently shown that this method is reliable.
The levels of progesterone normally vary over the course of the menstrual cycle. In premenopausal women, progesterone is made by a small and temporary gland created when ovulation occurs. If the egg becomes fertilized and implants into the wall of the uterus, then progesterone will continue to be produced in order to support the pregnancy. If not, then progesterone levels will decline again after several days.
Because of this natural variation, it’s important to pay careful attention to when you take the test in order to properly interpret the results. You’ll generally need to take the test around day 21 of your menstrual cycle. By this point, ovulation should have occurred if it’s going to, and this is when progesterone levels are generally highest. Some test kits will have you take five urine samples on consecutive days around this part of your cycle, looking for a rise in progesterone that would indicate ovulation.
Can you test progesterone levels at home?
If you’d like the convenience of testing at home, then you can order an at home progesterone test kit. This will be sent to your home. If you’re taking a blood test, then you’ll need to take your blood sample yourself, which is done by fingerprick. You then send the sample back to the lab, and you’ll get your results online in a few days. With a saliva test, the process is similar, but taking the sample is much easier. However, remember that the results of a saliva test for hormones may not always be reliable.
If you’re taking a urine test, then you’ll simply pee into a cup. Then you’ll dip in a test strip, and wait just a few minutes for the results. You’ll get a positive result if a sufficient level of progesterone was detected, and a negative result if it was not detected.
If you get an abnormal result on a progesterone test, then it’s important to talk with a medical professional to discuss your next steps. You may want to go to a fertility clinic if you’re trying to conceive. If you’re having symptoms that could be related to your abnormal progesterone levels, or if you believe that you’re approaching menopause, then you can go to your regular doctor to talk about what you can do. Some women choose hormone replacement therapy, while others prefer to use other approaches to addressing their symptoms.
Comparing at home progesterone test kit options
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Health Testing Centers. https://www.healthtestingcenters.com/. Accessed 28 Oct 2022.
Konishi S, Brindle E, et al. Salivary Concentration of Progesterone and Cortisol Significantly Differs Across Individuals After Correcting for Blood Hormone Values. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2012 Oct; 149(2): 231–241. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22114.
Progesterone Test. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/progesterone-test/. Accessed 28 Oct 2022.
Serum progesterone. University of California at San Francisco. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/medical-tests/serum-progesterone. Accessed 28 Oct 2022.
Usala SJ, Alliende ME, et al. The Fertility Indicator Equation Using Serum Progesterone and Urinary Pregnanediol-3-Glucuronide for Assessment of Ovulatory to Luteal Phase Transition. Medicina (Kaunas). 2021 Feb; 57(2): 134. doi: 10.3390/medicina57020134.