Do you know about progesterone?
Hormones are a hot topic of discussion in my practice and for a good reason. Hormonal imbalances are the root of many health issues in the body and are often overlooked. Progesterone is both a female and male sex hormone playing many critical roles in the body.
Interestingly, progesterone levels begin to decline ten years before menopause, which is why we are going to dive into the roles of progesterone, signs and symptoms of low progesterone, and what you can do to rebalance levels.
What does progesterone do for your body?
Progesterone belongs to a group of steroid hormones in the body called progestogens. In women, progesterone is primarily produced by the corpus luteum in the ovaries, but may also be produced by the adrenal glands, during pregnancy, and by the placenta.
Your hormones work together and often when one is out of whack then others are too! In women, progesterone balances estrogen and helps prevent estrogen dominance. It also helps with your sex drive and aids in maintaining the uterine lining during pregnancy. Progesterone plays a role in maintaining healthy muscles, tissues, connective tissues, and promoting bone health. Lastly, progesterone impacts your mood by promoting feels of calmness and positivity.
Do men need progesterone?
Men need progesterone too! No, it is not just for women. In males, progesterone is produced in the adrenal glands and testes.
Progesterone plays an important role in male too, but its functions can look different. Like women, men need progesterone to help balance estrogen levels in the body. Progesterone is actually a precursor to testosterone the reason why it is key for muscle and tissue health. Progesterone also helps to promote brain and nervous system health. Similar to women, progesterone is mood-boosting and has a calming effect.
What causes low progesterone?
The most common cause of low progesterone levels in women is due to anovulation (missed ovulation) or other reproductive and fertility-related issues. However, as I mentioned earlier progesterone levels decrease with age and definitely drop around menopause.
In men, low progesterone levels could be a result of age or other health issues.
Common Symptoms of Low Progesterone
Progesterone is super important so it is good to be able to recognize symptoms of low progesterone.
- Sticky weight loss (weight that just won’t come off)
- Gallbladder issues
- Decreased sex drive
- Mood Swings
- Worsened PMS
- Irregular Periods
- 35+ days between periods
- Breast tenderness (particularly pre-period)
- Brown-er colored menstruation
- Headaches and migraines
When women go off of birth control it is common to experience low progesterone levels, so try to be in tune with your body and notice symptoms!
Testing for low progesterone
While traditional doctors may be willing to order blood levels of estrogen and progesterone for you, these aren’t usually the most accurate for identifying estrogen dominance. Instead using a functional lab test that uses other methods for detecting estrogen levels and ratios within the body is much more reliable. We are big fans of the DUTCH hormone test, and recommend that anyone considering functional labs work alongside a trained practitioner (such as us!) for help with ordering and interpreting the results.
What you can do to help balance progesterone
Incorporating some of the following supplements and foods may help you balance progesterone levels.
- Magnesium – Helps regulate the pituitary gland to produce LH, FSH, and TSH
- Vitamin B6
- Zinc – Helps increase FSH
- Vitamin C – Helps increase Progesterone
- L-Arginine – Helps boost circulation and improves Corpus Leteum health which makes progesterone
- Brussel sprouts
- Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds
Get moving! Engaging in daily physical activity is so important in balancing hormone levels, just make sure not to over-do it.
Low progesterone levels are not uncommon. Its symptoms can be missed and easily confused for other things, but is still important to recognize symptoms, take action to determine if low progesterone is causing you problems, and know how to rebalance your hormone levels. Reach out to us with any questions or concerns you may have!
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