During the ovulation cycle, normal progesterone levels naturally fluctuate and prepare the female body for pregnancy.
The polarizing effects of progesterone on conception make it seem like a very difficult hormone to understand.
Essentially, it’s found in both men and women, aids in the reproduction process, and can produce a period through progesterone withdrawal.
The role of progesterone is to help regulate your ovulation cycle (menstrual cycle). It is not only a female hormone as it is found, and also plays a role in reproduction, in males.
It is a hormone that is crucial in fertility, conception and shortly afterward to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Progesterone is produced mainly by the corpus luteum in the ovaries of females and in the testes in males. In both sexes, it helps balance estrogen and oestrogen levels. In females, it produces a healthy uterus wall lining, which is also known as the endometrium, for procuring a fertilized egg.
The normal progesterone level for the first half of the menstrual cycle is generally less than 2 nanograms per milliliter. This occurs before ovulation.
During the follicular phase the levels are about the same for women as it is for men and is produced mostly form the adrenal glands in both sexes.
The effects of progesterone is very little during this phase and the level will slowly rise, yet stay relatively low, just preceding the surge in LH (luteinizing hormone) levels just before ovulation.
Estrogen is actually the dominant hormone is this pre-ovulatory phase and also rises but much earlier and at a much higher rate and peaks just before the LH surge. This peak actually signals the pituitary gland to release huge amounts of LH which in turn signals the dominant follicle in the ovary to release and egg (ovum). This is the point of ovulation.
Estrogen has several roles but the main role is to thicken the endometrial lining of the uterus in preparation for implantation.
During the luteal phase, the normal progesterone level after ovulation is generally between 5 to 20 ng/ml and peaks mid-luteal phase. This occurs to prepare the endometrium for pregnancy implantation of a fertilized egg. Progesterone dominates this phase of your ovulation cycle.
The main progesterone effects at this stage is to proliferate the endometrium, building the blood vessels which will nourish the embryo during and after implantation.
In the luteal phase, it is produced mainly from the corpus luteum (the remaining follicle after the egg is released), which also produces estrogen but in lower levels. If you have a short luteal phase (luteal phase defect - LPD), you may also have low progesterone levels. Progesterone creams can be used during the luteal phase to increase progesterone and lengthen the luteal phase to allow for implantation of a fertilized egg.
If implantation does not occur, then the corpus luteum will begin to degenerate and progesterone levels will begin to fall. This fall will signal the uterus to close off blood supply and the endometrial lining will begin to separate from the inner uterine wall and you get your period. This is sometimes referred to as progesterone withdrawal, which occurs when high levels of progesterone is followed by a marked decrease which produces a withdrawal bleed.
If, however, implantation does take place, then progesterone levels will begin to rise again near the end of the second phase of your cycle and continue into the third (or tri-phasic phase). (The tri-phasic phase only occurs during pregnancy. The implanted embryo will release a hormonal signal called hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin, the pregnancy hormone) which will signal to the corpus luteum that pregnancy has taken place so that it will continue to produce hormones.
The normal progesterone level in early pregnancy (the first trimester) will generally be between 11-90 ng/mL and will continue to rise throughout your pregnancy.
Over time, the corpus luteum slowly reduces the amount of progesterone, because a quick reduction could end in a miscarriage, until the 10th week of gestation (8th week of actual pregnancy) in which the amounts are then maintained by the placenta of the developing baby.
If at any point during this process low progesterone is produced, it can lead to an early miscarriage. Early miscarriages, within the five to eight week phase, are a sign of progesterone deficiency in which progesterone levels are not being maintained.
To find out what your progesterone levels are you can ask your doctor for a progesterone test. You can also get online progesterone tests. You can then talk about the test results with your healthcare provider to determine if you have a low progesterone level and discuss what to do about it.
It's also a good idea to get a estrogen (estradial) test done since it is the imbalance of these two hormones that can cause fertility problems. You can get estradial tests online also.
Progesterone Creams | Low Progesterone | Progesterone and Miscarriage | Endometrium | Luteal Phase | Luteal Phase Defect | Corpus Luteum | Two Week Wait | What Happens at Conception | When Does Implantation Occur? | When Does Ovulation Occur? | When Does Conception Occur? | Follicular Phase | Endocrine Disruptors | Human Egg Fertilization | Increase Fertility Naturally | Menstrual Cycle Length | Pregnancy Implantation | Red Raspberry Leaf Tea | Vitex Agnus Castus |
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