There are many possible conditions that come up when we are pregnant. Learning about them can help us prevent complications, and seek treatment if ever we get the diagnosis.
When it comes to low progesterone in pregnancy, should it be a cause for concern? This article will discuss the causes and treatment for low progesterone levels.
What Exactly Is Progesterone
Progesterone is a sex hormone produced in the ovaries following a woman’s ovulation. It’s very important when it comes to your menstrual cycle as well as maintaining your pregnancy.
The steroid hormone is also produced in the testes and adrenal cortex. This is the outer region of the adrenal glands, sitting above the kidneys.
Progesterone not only helps regulate your menstrual cycle but also prepares your uterus for pregnancy. It helps the innermost lining of the uterus, called endometrium, to thicken to support implantation.
When pregnancy happens, the placenta and the body continue to secrete the hormone to support the developing foetus. Progesterone levels continue to rise throughout the pregnancy.
It also plays a role in breast development, and breastfeeding, and complements the role of estrogen.
So what happens if you have a low progesterone during pregnancy? What causes low progesterone in pregnancy? And what are the low progesterone pregnancy symptoms? Finally, if you are trying to conceive, how to increase progesterone to get pregnant?
Read on to find out.
What Effects Does Having Low Progesterone Have On Your Pregnancy
Progesterone is very important for women who are pregnant or those who are planning to get pregnant. So for women who have low progesterone, it might be difficult for them to get pregnant as well as stay pregnant.
In women who aren’t pregnant, here are some of the low progesterone symptoms:
- Headaches or migraines
- Sudden changes in mood, anxiety, depression
- Low sex drive
- Weight gain
- Hot flashes
- Irregular menstrual cycle
For women who are pregnant, here are the low progesterone pregnancy symptoms:
Sometimes, low progesterone in women can also mean toxaemia.
Conditions Related to Low Progesterone
Having low progesterone can lead to several conditions including:
Infertility. When ovulation does not occur even when menstruation is regular, it may be due to low progesterone levels.
Chronic anovulation. When a woman’s menstrual cycle runs longer than 32-35 days, it can be because ovulation is not occurring. When this happens, consult your doctor so they can measure your progesterone levels.
Menopause. To reduce the symptoms of menopause, doctors recommend hormone replacement therapy. If you are taking estrogen therapy, and you have not had a hysterectomy, you also need to take progesterone supplements. This is so you can help prevent uterine cancer.
Complications of Having Low Progesterone in Pregnancy
Researchers recommend maintaining healthy levels of progesterone to prevent preterm delivery. This is because the hormone helps maintain the uterus during gestation.
The hormones block factors that cause preterm birth. In cases of low progesterone pregnancy, doctors may recommend hormone supplementation.
Low progesterone levels when pregnant may also mean an increased risk for ectopic pregnancy. When this happens, it can result in a miscarriage or fetal death.
Causes of Low Progesterone in Pregnancy
What causes low progesterone in pregnancy? Though it is produced by the ovarian corpus luteum during the first 10 weeks of gestation, progesterone levels decrease does not exclusively happen during pregnancy.
Some causes of low progesterone include:
- Prolactin disorder. Prolactin is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland. It tells the body to produce breast milk when someone is pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Hormonal fluctuations because of the menstrual cycle
- Thyroid problems include hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and thyroid nodules.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS is an endocrine system disorder where the ovaries contain small fluid-filled sacs.
- Hormonal changes caused by menopause.
How to Test Low Progesterone Levels
A blood test, called the progesterone test (PGSN) can determine if your levels are low.
Having this test may explain why some people are having a hard time conceiving. It can also show whether you have ovulated. In addition, the PGSN is used when monitoring hormone replacement therapy. PGSN is also done during a high-risk pregnancy.
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It is important to note that progesterone levels are normally higher during gestation. It is even higher when you’re having multiple pregnancies.
During pregnancy, your doctor will measure your progesterone levels to monitor how the placenta and corpus luteum is working.
Maternal progesterone normally increases slowly during the first trimester.
Between the 6th and 8th week and your levels are less than 10 ng/ml, doctors consider that as having low progesterone levels. This may be a sign of an abnormal or ectopic pregnancy.
In the succeeding trimesters, the levels should increase to 150 ng/ml.
While the PGSN determines if you have low progesterone levels, your doctor may need more tests to find out the cause.
What Should You Do About Low Progesterone Levels?
Those trying to conceive may ask, how to increase progesterone to get pregnant?
Thankfully, there are some options that women have when it comes to increasing their progesterone levels.
There are available creams and gels which can be used topically or vaginally to help boost a woman’s progesterone levels. Suppositories are also used to help deal with low progesterone, especially for women who are having trouble conceiving.
There are also vaginal rings that slowly release progesterone over time and oral medications such as Provera.
Hormone replacement therapy
Hormone therapy can help ease some of the symptoms of low progesterone, and can even improve mood as well as a woman’s state of mind. It does not just increase the progesterone levels, it may also help thicken the uterine lining.
Because of this, your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and carrying your baby to term increase.
In addition, hormone therapy can also help ease the symptoms like vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and night sweats.
However, it’s important to know that hormone therapy can increase the risk of stroke, blood clots, and gallbladder troubles so it would be best to talk to your doctor about what options you have.
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There are also natural solutions for low progesterone levels. First off, you can eat food such as shellfish which is rich in zinc. Vitamin B and C supplements are also reported to help with low progesterone.
Foods that may help stimulate our body to produce progesterone include:
- Whole grains
- Brussel sprouts
Furthermore, consider reducing your stress levels as it also has an impact. This is because when you are stressed, your body releases cortisol instead of progesterone.
These are the best ways how to increase progesterone to get pregnant.
Translated with permission from theAsianparent Philippines.
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