Progesterone is a very important hormone concerned with the reproductive system of women. Along with estrogen, this hormone helps in regulating the menstrual cycle in women. For a woman's reproductive system to function normally, it is a must that both progesterone and estrogen work in harmony, without any of them getting dominant. However, oftentimes, it has been found that progesterone levels drop below normal in some women. This causes estrogen dominance in the body and may lead to several health issues. Progesterone deficiency is a major contributing factor to female infertility.
What Causes Progesterone Deficiency
Progesterone is secreted by the female ovaries, whereas estrogen is secreted by adrenal gland. Estrogen is dominant during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle in which numerous follicles develop inside one of the ovaries. Only one of these follicles attains maturity and releases a mature egg or ovum. After that, luteal phase of menstrual cycle begins during which progesterone levels start rising after ovulation, accompanied with a surge in basal body temperature.
Considering the possibility of fertilization, progesterone signals the uterus to thicken endometrium. Endometrium is uterine lining in which an embryo implants. When endometrium is thick and enriched with blood and tissue, an egg finds it easier to implant. When there is no fertilization, the uterine wall is shed along with the egg during period.
However, in an incidence where a woman cannot produce enough progesterone, the uterine wall cannot thicken to the expected thickness. Thus, a fertilized egg may not get a chance to implant itself. As a result, a woman fails to conceive even after successful fertilization. This understanding is very important when you are dealing with an issue of infertility. If you are ovulating normally and yet fail to conceive, then progesterone deficiency can be a contributing factor.
Progesterone levels usually drop as women age. By the time they reach 35, their progesterone levels have already dropped beyond the desired levels for conception. Stress is a major factor for progesterone deficiency in younger women. Apart from this, contraceptive pills, which are loaded with estrogen and progestin also decrease the levels of natural progesterone by causing estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is also caused by eating hormone impregnated foods such as poultry, beef, pork etc.
Certain external and environmental substances also contain chemicals, which mimic the properties of estrogen in the body. In older women, progesterone production stops completely after menopause. Hysterectomy or oophorectomy may also cause progesterone levels to drop significantly.
Progesterone Deficiency Symptoms
Progesterone deficiency or estrogen dominance may cause several undesirable effects in a woman. The most evident symptom of low progesterone is inability to ovulate normally and irregular periods. The woman may also experience heavy menstrual bleeding with cramping. Premenopausal symptoms such as fatigue, vaginal dryness, memory loss also become evident. Behavioral changes such as mood swings, depression, anxiety also point toward a deficiency of progesterone. A woman may also experience a decrease in sexual drive as a result of this condition. She may even become more susceptible to urinary tract infections. Woman with estrogen dominance may also gain a lot of weight on the abdomen.
Progesterone Deficiency Treatment
If a woman cannot produce enough progesterone on her own, she may need to take progesterone supplements. Natural progesterone supplements are available in the form of topical skin creams, patches, suppositories etc. The female ovary produces about 20 mg progesterone, hence the supplement dosage is also adjusted accordingly. Skin patches or topical creams are preferred over other sources as they release small quantities of progesterone throughout the day. Suppositories may cause a temporary rise in progesterone levels. Women in the early stages of pregnancy may be required to take progesterone shots to meet the higher requirements of progesterone in the body.
Causes of progesterone deficiency such as stress can be eradicated from your life so that your body starts producing progesterone naturally. A healthy organic diet may also help in treating hormone imbalance in the body. Hope, you found this article resourceful.