The human body consists of various specialized structures that carry out specialized tasks that are vital for the functioning of organ systems. For instance, the female reproductive system comprises various organs that work collectively to bring about various physiological changes throughout the stages of a woman's reproductive life cycle. Once a girl enters puberty, cyclical changes take place till the time she approaches menopause. Though there is no defined age for girls to hit puberty, usually girls enter puberty between the ages of 10 to 14. Puberty is a stage wherein the body begins to show signs of sexual development. Various physiological, psychological and behavioral changes that take place during this time, are attributed to the secretion of hormones. While the endocrine glands of the human body secrete several types of hormones, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, estrogen and progesterone are the main female hormones that are involved with the regulation of monthly menstrual cycles. Thus, irregularities in the menstrual cycle are bound to occur if the balance between these hormones is disturbed. For instance, delayed periods are often attributed to elevated levels of progesterone. In this article, we will try to understand how does progesterone delay menstruation and what may cause high progesterone levels in women.
Effects of Progesterone on Menstrual Cycle
In order to understand how does too much progesterone delay periods, you must understand the role played by progesterone in regulating the menstrual cycle. Well, as mentioned earlier, progesterone is a hormone that is vital for the functioning of the female reproductive system. Hormones are secretions of endocrine glands that act as catalysts and produce a specific reaction in the organs or tissues where these are secreted. Progesterone as well as estrogen are secreted by the ovaries, which in turn, are gonads or sex glands that produce ova. The levels of these hormones rise and drop during the different stages of the menstrual cycle. Normally, the monthly cycle may last anywhere between 28 to 35 days. The menstrual flow that marks the beginning of each cycle, occurs as a result of decline in the levels of progesterone as well as estrogen. Estrogen and progesterone play a vital role in preparing the body for pregnancy. Once the menstrual cycle begins, a hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone stimulates the ovaries to produce eggs. At this time, the levels of estrogen begin to rise.
Luteinizing hormone is another hormone, which is secreted during the mid-cycle. It is known for stimulating the release of the egg. A tissue called corpus luteum develops after the rupturing of the follicle and the consequent release of ovum. It is corpus luteum that secretes progesterone. For a woman to conceive, egg must be fertilized with the male sperm, however, the uterine lining has to be strong enough to be able to support the fertilized egg that is implanted on the walls of the uterus. It is the secretion of progesterone that helps in maintaining the thickened uterine lining. For this reason, progesterone is also referred to as the pregnancy hormone. If the fertilization of egg and sperm takes place, progesterone is secreted in higher amounts for maintaining the endometrium. If the egg and sperm don't fertilize, estrogen as well as progesterone levels begin to decline, thereby causing the uterine lining to rupture. This gives rise to menstrual bleeding.
Can Progesterone Cause Delayed Menses?
As mentioned earlier, progesterone plays an important role in maintaining the thickened endometrium. If the fertilization of egg and sperm takes place during the menstrual cycle, the levels of progesterone would stay high, however, progesterone levels would fall if the egg is not fertilized at this time. Thus, it is the decline in progesterone levels that causes the menstrual bleeding. While women have high levels of progesterone while they are pregnant, progesterone in secreted in varying amounts in women who are not pregnant. There are some women who may suffer from a progesterone deficiency. Under such circumstances, doctors may suggest the use of progesterone supplements, creams or suppositories in order to normalize progesterone levels. However, there is a great need to ensure that these vaginal suppositories or creams are used in the right manner.
More often than not, high progesterone levels are seen in women who have been on progesterone pills or other types of progesterone support for a long period of time. Prolonged use of progesterone creams or vaginal suppositories can cause too much progesterone, which in turn, may cause delayed periods. Thus, there is a great need to monitor the progesterone levels and vary the dosage as per one's needs. Progesterone levels could also become elevated as a result of certain medical conditions. Uterine cancer or adrenal hyperplasia are both medical conditions that are characterized by progesterone imbalance. Fluctuations in progesterone levels may also take place in menopausal women. Since delayed periods and various other types of menstrual irregularities could be attributed to high progesterone levels, there's a great need to ensure that any kind of hormonal imbalance is corrected at the earliest.
Menstruation is a biological process that is dependent on the right balance between estrogen and progesterone. Since menstruation is signified by the cyclical changes in the reproductive system that determine a woman's ability to conceive, women who are of child-bearing age must never ignore irregularities in the menstrual cycle. Women who are diagnosed with high progesterone levels and often suffer from delayed periods, must consult a doctor, and comply with the advice given by the doctor.