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Hormones, generally act as chemical messengers in order to induce various bodily functions. There are two female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, both of which play equally important role in the menstrual cycle. In this article, the subject of discussion would be regarding the progesterone levels. We would explain the progesterone levels in the body after ovulation, its affect, what factors affect it and progesterone tests.

The progesterone is basically produced by the corpus luteum , a temporary gland formed post egg release. Other than the corpus luteum, the hormone is produced by ovaries, adrenal glands and placenta.

The Normal Progesterone Levels in Women:

Progesterone level in women can range from 0.2 ng/ml – 200ng/ml, however, the normal levels are considered depending on the factors such as the phase of the menstrual cycle that you’re in or menopause. Women who have regular menstrual cycles, have progesterone levels of 0.89 ng/ml or lower and during the ovulation and luteal phase, these levels rise to 1.8-2.4 ng/ml.

Women, who are approaching their menopause have progesterone levels depending on their frequency of periods while the women who are experiencing menopause, their progesterone levels drop even below 0.2 ng/ml.

Progesterone Levels during and after Ovulation:

During ovulation, a mature egg is released from the follicles and once released, a corpus luteum is formed which starts producing progesterone. Progesterone starts playing its role in preparation of the body in order to receive a sperm for fertilization. It induces the glandular development and blood vessel formation. A nurturing environment is made for the implantation of a possible zygote/embryo.

During the ovulation phase, the progesterone levels can be up to 12 ng/ml, however as the luteal phase begins, the post ovulation phase, the progesterone levels could be anywhere between 1.8 ng/ml – 24ng/ml. progesterone is produced by other parts of the body as mentioned but mainly, during and after ovulation it is produced by the corpus luteum which carries out the following functions:

  • Thickening the uterine wall for preparation of an implantation.
  • Prevention of muscle contractions that could possibly harm the zygote.

If the egg is not fertilized and there is no pregnancy, progesterone is still produced by the ovaries for a few days until period begins. As the progesterone levels drop, the uterine lining also starts breaking down stimulating menstruation.

What are the Contributing Factors to Progesterone Levels:

the contributing factors to the low progesterone levels in the body are as follows:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Obesity
  • Poor diet
  • High stress levels
  • Lack of exercise

Reasons for Higher Levels:

The reasons for higher-than-normal levels of progesterone in the body could be due to the following reasons:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Adrenal cancer
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia

Progesterone Levels during Pregnancy:

When the egg is fertilized, the progesterone production continues as the corpus luteum doesn’t break down. The progesterone induces the blood vessel supply to the endometrium and causes the endometrium to supply nutrients to the developing fetus. The placenta also produces estrogen once established and becomes the primary source. Throughout the pregnancy, the progesterone levels increase gradually and this increase helps prevent the production of more eggs. Progesterone by the end of pregnancy triggers lactation.

Progesterone Levels during Perimenopause and Menopause:

Progesterone levels can fluctuate during the perimenopause and can range from 0.89- 24ng/ml. This is because you may ovulate less frequently during the perimenopause, so, comparatively progesterone levels would be higher in the months when ovulation did occur than the months when ovulation did not occur.

Since menopause is the end of fertility and the menstrual cycle, the progesterone production is the least due to the absence of ovulation. As no progesterone is produced by the ovaries, the progesterone levels can drop below 0.2 ng/ml. The little amount that is produced is by the adrenal glands.

What are Progesterone Level Test?

Progesterone level tests could be carried out due to a number of reasons, you may want it to confirm your ovulation in case you’re trying to conceive. Ideally, for accurate results, progesterone tests should be carried out 6-8 days post ovulation. The test could be done either at home or at a doctor’s but both in different ways.

At home the test used to determine the progesterone levels is basically a urine test. The home test actually detects a urine metabolite of the progesterone which is not the direct detection of progesterone. The metabolite is the product after the progesterone is circulated in the blood stream and excreted in urine.

At the doctor’s a serum progesterone test is carried out via blood test which gives the exact amount of progesterone present in the blood.

Why Progesterone Levels Test?

Now why do we carry out a test to check progesterone levels? What for? You may have thought about the question, well there could be a number of reasons for carrying out progesterone level tests. These could be as follows:

  • Detection of underlying causes of infertility
  • Determining an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage
  • Ovulation
  • Diagnosis of adrenal disorders
  • Evaluating causes of abnormal uterine bleeding.

Effects of High Progesterone Levels:

Usually, no health effects are caused due to the high progesterone levels, and naturally, the high levels are caused during pregnancy. contraceptive pills, or some commonly known as progesterone pills, causes the ovulation to cease and helps in birth control. Progesterone, according to a study, helps against ovarian cancer.

A rise in progesterone levels during the luteal phase can exhibit symptoms of PMS, such as bloating, fatigue, cramps and breast tenderness. Other than that, high levels generally do not harm the body but can be an indication of an underlying disease or disorder.

Effects of Low Progesterone Levels:

Where high levels of progesterone don’t really cause harm, low levels can be alarming as they can affect both, the fertility and menstruation. As mentioned and discussed earlier, progesterone essentially prepares the uterus for the implantation of the fertilized egg, since progesterone production is low, the uterine lining is not properly prepared and the ideal environment is not provided. This makes it difficult for the fertilized egg to embed itself and grow. Other conditions that low levels of progesterone can contribute to are as follows:

  • Miscarriage
  • Amenorrhea (absence of menstruation)
  • Weak ovarian function

The Bottomline:

By the above content we learned that progesterone is essential for regular menstrual cycle and fertility, is mainly produced from corpus luteum during and after ovulatory phase and can be produced in little amounts by the other organs. High levels of progesterone does not harm the body except can exhibit some side effects or PMS but can be an indication of a potential underlying disease or disorder.

You should contact your doctor if the levels are noticed to be too high. Low progesterone levels can cause great affect on the menstrual cycle and fertility and can act as a contributing factor in other health problems.

Throughout the cycle, progesterone level fluctuations can be seen and is completely normal. In order to detect and determine the progesterone levels in the body, tests can be carried out followed by more tests for the confirmation of a suspection.

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