The human body produces various hormones that play a vital role in its normal functioning. Variations in the normal hormone levels may create health problems. Such variations can be seen in different stages of life, like puberty, childbirth, menopause, etc. While both men and women are subjected to these variations, the term hormonal imbalance is mostly associated with women. As far as women are concerned, estrogen and progesterone are the two major hormones and so, they are often referred to as female hormones. In fact, these two hormones are found in men too. However, it is in females, that they have a much evident role.
Estrogen and progesterone are responsible for ovulation, menstruation, pregnancy, maintenance of pregnancy, miscarriage, and childbirth. Apart from these, they are also interlinked with metabolism and various other bodily functions. If you have a basic knowhow about the problems that can be caused by the increased and decreased levels of both estrogen and progesterone, you may be able to identify the condition and get it treated. If you experience such hormonal imbalance, your doctor may advise you to check the hormone levels.
Hormonal imbalance can be experienced by both men and women, but it is mostly seen in the latter. In case of women, estrogen and progesterone are known to cause such problems. Progesterone deficiency can be experienced by men as well as women. In women, this condition may develop at an early stage in life, and may also cause a wide range of symptoms. In case of men, low levels of progesterone may develop after the age of fifty. This is not the case in females, who are prone to progesterone deficiency, as they reach the age of 30 to 35.
Progesterone deficiency in women can be caused by various factors, like diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress, use of birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, and thyroid or adrenal disorders. The condition can cause various health issues that may result in mild to severe symptoms. Such symptoms include PMS, mood swings, decreased sexual desire, extreme fatigue, thinning scalp hair, varying blood sugar levels, irregular menstruation, memory loss, insomnia, infertility, and even miscarriage. In order to detect this condition, you may be required to check the level of progesterone in your body.
Test for Progesterone Deficiency
Progesterone deficiency is usually detected with a blood test, that reveals the variations in the hormone level. Even though salivary tests are said to be useful in detecting this condition, it is not considered conclusive. It is also said that a rise or fall in progesterone levels can be measured with a basal thermometer that will show a corresponding rise and dip in temperature. However, it is the blood test that is usually done to detect low progesterone levels. The following are some important factors associated with progesterone tests.
- A test to check progesterone is recommended for women facing problems like infertility; to keep a track on ovulation, and the effects of medication for ovulation; to detect an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. It is also undertaken to monitor the safety of pregnancy in women who are using progesterone supplements, and those with abnormal uterine bleeding with no pregnancy. It is also used to diagnose certain types of cancers, adrenal gland disorders, and to detect hormonal imbalance in women over 30.
- Progesterone levels rise after ovulation and drops before menstruation. While a single progesterone test will be sufficient to determine the condition in certain cases, it will be done in a series, in some people, especially those with infertility problems. Sometimes, this test has to be done in conjunction with other hormonal tests.
- As far as preparation for the test is concerned, you may be required to stop taking medication with hormones, like progesterone or estrogen (especially birth control pills), for a stipulated period before the test. If you have undergone any tests, medical procedures, or treatment with radioactive substances, then make sure that you inform the physician, as they can affect the accuracy of the results. Certain medication, like ampicillin and excessive physical strain before the test, may also affect the test results.
- Interpretation of a progesterone test result is based on various factors, like the stage of the menstrual cycle (when the test was done), the specific symptoms and health issues of the women, other hormonal levels, etc. Both low and high levels of progesterone may indicate various health conditions. While low progesterone levels may indicate ovulation problems, miscarriage, failing pregnancy, etc., high levels may be caused by molar pregnancy, ovarian cancer, cancer of the adrenal glands, excessive production of the hormone by adrenal glands, etc.
In case of pregnant woman, the level of progesterone may range between 10 to 44 ng/mL during the first trimester, 19.5 to 82.5 ng/mL during the second trimester, and 65 to 290 ng/mL in the third trimester. As far as menstruation is concerned, it will be below 1 ng/mL during the first half of the cycle, and rises to around 2 to 25 ng/mL during the second half. After menopause, the normal progesterone level is found to be less than 1 ng/mL. This (less than 1 ng/mL) is also found to be the normal progesterone level in men. The above said is only a general overview about the test for progesterone deficiency. If you experience any of the symptoms associated with this condition, contact your healthcare provider and get it diagnosed and treated.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.