Progesterone is a steroid hormone of the class of hormones called progestogens. This hormone occurs naturally in the human body. It plays a role in the female menstrual cycle and gestation in pregnancy, as well as taking part in the fertilization of the egg and embryo development during pregnancy. Other roles of progesterone include acting as an anti inflammatory agent, regulating the immune response, normalizing blood clotting, and preventing endometrial cancer by regulating the effects of estrogen in the female body.
If the human body does not produce enough progesterone in the female on its own, there are some effects. For example, progesterone helps to lower estrogen levels, so too low progesterone levels can lead to increased PMS symptoms and difficult periods for women. The woman may also experience mood swings and irritability.
Progesterone in early-pregnancy
In early pregnancy, progesterone measurements may be used, along with human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) testing, to help diagnose an ectopic or failing pregnancy. Progesterone levels may also be ordered to monitor a high-risk pregnancy to help evaluate placenta and fetal health. Decreased levels are seen in ectopic pregnancies and in miscarriages.
If a woman is receiving progesterone injections to help support her early pregnancy, her progesterone levels may be monitored on a regular basis to help determine the effectiveness of that treatment.
In America and Asia, tests of progesterone levels may be ordered easily, along with other tests such as an FSH, LH, hCG, thyroid tests, clotting tests, and a CBC (Complete Blood Count). However, it is extremely difficult to have these tests via NHS routes, and it’s expensive to go private for those tests in the UK.
Meanings of Progesterone level
If levels do not rise normally during an early pregnancy, the pregnancy may be ectopic and/or may be failing. If serial measurements do not show increasing progesterone levels over time, there may be problems with the viability of the placenta and fetus.
Increased progesterone levels also are seen occasionally with
- Some ovarian cysts
- Non-viable pregnancies known as molar pregnancies
- A rare form of ovarian cancer
- Overproduction of progesterone by the adrenal glands
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)
Low levels of progesterone may be associated with
- Toxemia late in pregnancy
- Decreased function of ovaries
- Lack of menstruation (amenorrhea)
How to Increase Progesterone
There are no known ways to date to stimulate the body to make its own progesterone beyond what it already is making. What this means is that you’ll have to actually take some kind of supplement, natural or synthetic, to increase your level of progesterone.
Natural alternatives to progesterone that have the same or similar effects. One such natural alternative is pregnenolone, which is sold over the counter. Pregnenolone is found in the human body, and the body converts it to progesterone. So, taking pregnenolone can help increase your levels of progesterone.
Natural sources of progesterone, found in everyday foods and in natural herbs and creams, such as
Foods That Naturally Increase Progesterone
- Wild yams, also known as Mexican yams, at an organic health food store and use them as you would traditional yams. All yams have some naturally occurring progesterone but wild yams contain more of the hormone than any other natural food source. The progesterone found in wild yams absorbs readily into the body. Try steaming wild yams or dicing the raw vegetable into salads instead of boiling or baking to retain more of the natural hormone.
- Soy-based foods: soya milk, tofu, etc. Read the label, however, because not all soy-based products are low fat or low in sodium.
- Black Cohosh, Dong Quai, Gotu Kola and Red Raspberry leaf.
- Caraway, fennel seed, clover sprouts, pomegranate seeds, dill weed and flaxseed all offer small amounts of natural progesterone that when added to your daily diet will increase your body’s progesterone level. Although these sources contain only small amounts of the hormone, but when used on a regular basis, they offer a gentle natural source to regulate your own progesterone production.
- Egg yolks and dairy products both contain respectable amounts of true progesterone, but it is not known how directly they interact with the human body’s own progesterone stores.
- Turmeric can increase the body’s progesterone levels, as can thyme and oregano.
- Foods with Vitamin B-6: Walnuts, whole grains, fortified cereals, and soy milk all contain large amounts of vitamin B-6, which may be essential for maintaining ideal estrogen-progesterone balance.
- Foods Containing Zinc: Zinc is thought to be essential to producing adequate levels of progesterone, so high-zinc foods like red meat, shellfish, chicken and turkey can all increase progesterone levels.
- Natural progesterone supplements: Unlike in USA and Asia, in the UK, it’s extremely difficult to convince your GP or specialist to prescribe them for you. Without their prescription, you can only find these on the internet. One product available on the internet is Natural Progesterone cream, developed by a company called Source Naturals (Buy Progesterone cream on sale by Source Naturals, Natural Progesterone Cream). However, taking them without consulting your GP/specialist is at your own risk. Otherwise, you can go private to have them but ofcourse they are a bit expensive.
- Synthetic progesterone, in the form of progestins, has many adverse side effects. This is what makes natural progesterone desirable.
- gestone + 1 x 400mg of cyclogest until 12 weeks of pregnancy – end of the first trimester
- Unlike natural wild yam, creams derived from wild yams do not contain any progesterone; they merely contain a chemical that can be converted to progesterone in a laboratory but that is not converted to progesterone in the body. It is not a good idea to buy wild yam cream with the idea of boosting your progesterone and preventing a miscarriage. It will not work.
Progesterone supplements are hard to absorb in the body. The supplement needs to be in an oil to help absorption, such as peanut oil.