Could you be suffering from Low Progesterone?
Here’s what you need to know.
Progesterone is your pregnancy hormone. Balancing hormones becomes a key factor in getting pregnant and maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Your hormones will fluctuate and shift throughout your cycle in response to signals from the hypothalamus in your brain to the ovaries. During the first half of your cycle, the follicular phase, estrogen will start to rise and luteinizing hormone will surge - resulting in ovulation. Once the follicle is released from the ovaries, the corpus luteum will begin to form, and progesterone will now be produced.
Progesterone is one of the dominant hormones in the second half of your cycle that is important for developing an embryo, but also maintaining a healthy, regular cycle.
What are the signs of low progesterone?
Common signs and symptoms of progesterone include, but aren’t limited to:
Recurrent pregnancy loss
Anxiety and/or depression
Weight gain or unable to lose weight
Skin issues: acne, brittle nails, facial hair
Irregular menstrual cycles
Headaches and/or migraines
What are the causes of low progesterone?
Low Vitamin D
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
How to test for low progesterone.
Hormones can be tested a variety of ways - through serum levels, urine or saliva. If you are still menstruating, the best day to test for progesterone levels is day 21 of your cycle, if your cycle is 28 days. Typically, progesterone peaks 5 days after ovulation, giving the most accurate results. If you are postmenopausal, hormones can be tested at any time.
How to boost progesterone levels, naturally.
If you’ve gone through the article above, and think you could be suffering from a progesterone deficiency, here are some key supplements that help to raise progesterone.
Lower your stress: Stress plays an integral part in the production of progesterone. Both cortisol (your stress hormone) and progesterone are formed from another hormone called pregnenolone. If stress is high, your pregnenolone will shunt to the production of cortisol over progesterone.
Destress by adding in deep breathing, yoga - or a hobby that you love doing!
2. Healthy fats: Increasing your consumption of healthy fats will help form the building blocks for pregnenolone, which plays an important role in the hormonal pathway. Healthy fats include extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds and avocado.
3. Environmental estrogens: We are now exposed to many sources of xenoestrogens in the form of our food, packaging and plastic. The body confuses these xenoestrogens for estrogen, causing hormones to become unbalanced. Try to reduce use of plastic tupperware containers, bags and look for hormone free animal products when possible.
4. Vitex: Vitex is one of the most well known herbs for balancing hormones. Vitex has chemical properties that allow it to act on the HPO Axis (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian Axis) in order to balance progesterone levels.
5. Zinc: Zinc is known to help increase follicle stimulating hormone, which in turn will signal the ovaries to raise progesterone levels. Supplementation may be required, however some food sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds, shellfish and legumes.
Symptoms of progesterone deficiency can be caused by many other underlying issues. As always, try to get to the root cause of your symptoms and never treat without discussing with your Naturopathic Doctor or Primary Healthcare Provider.