Progesterone: What it Does, How to Boost It, Should You Supplement With It?
So many women are struggling with low levels of progesterone.
Let's recap: what is progesterone?
Progesterone is: a steroid hormone released by the corpus luteum that stimulates the uterus to prepare for pregnancy.
A corpus luteum is a mass of cells that forms in an ovary and is responsible for producing the hormone progesterone during early pregnancy.
Progesterone is one of the hormones responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle, and its main job is to get your uterus ready for pregnancy. After you ovulate each month, progesterone helps thicken the uterus' lining to prepare for a fertilized egg. If there is no fertilized egg, then progesterone drops, and day 1 of the menstrual cycle begins.
It's easier to define the negative implications of having low progesterone levels instead of talking about "the benefits of progesterone". Understanding what happens when there is not enough progesterone is a helpful tool that shows us its importance.
Symptoms of low progesterone: weight gain. decreased sex drive, mood swings, and depression. PMS/PMDD, irregular menstrual cycle, heavy bleeding. breast tenderness, fibrocystic breasts, fibroids, gallbladder problems.
What causes low progesterone?
The two main things are stress and low thyroid function.
How can we increase progesterone?
Eat enough calories + nourish the body. An undernourished body will be under greater stress, meaning it will be prioritizing making cortisol instead of progesterone.
Support thyroid function by first seeing if you have a thyroid condition (hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, etc.), and then provide the body with proper support.
Support estrogen detoxification (read more about this here) and support the liver. Doing these two things will support progesterone production.
Lower stress on the body - avoid fasting, overexercising, and undersleeping.
Try acupuncture or reflexology for added hormonal support.
Is there a time and a place for progesterone cream/supplementation?
Long story short- YES. Absolutely, especially during early pregnancy. Many times, early pregnancy loss is caused by inadequate progesterone levels. Many of my PCOS clients use progesterone cream while trying to conceive (as just one part of the infertility process) + continue to use it throughout pregnancy. Progesterone exists FOR pregnancy - and having enough of it will be a vital part of having a healthy, full-term pregnancy.
Beyond pregnancy, progesterone cream can be a useful tool for women struggling with PCOS/hypothyroidism/endometriosis. I suggest working with a functional practitioner to help you order testing, interpret results, suggest an amount of progesterone for you if it's something that is needed. I do this for my clients, and whenever it is needed, adding it in is a beneficial tool.
What kind do I suggest? Emerita Pro-Gest Balancing Cream. (found on Amazon, iHerb, Vitacost, etc.)