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What you need to know about progesterone

Written by: Mina Stanisavljevic

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Time to read 4 min

Keywords: progesterone, pregnancy, hormones, miscarriage

Progesterone is a hormone that plays a significant role in female reproductive health. Its involvement in fertility, the menstrual cycle and menopause makes it one of the most important hormones in female fertility and pregnancy.


Let us discuss what it is, what it does, the potential side effects of progesterone supplements during pregnancy, and examine recent research challenging the efficacy of these supplements in preventing miscarriage. 

progesterone, pregnancy, hormones, miscarriage

1. Progesterone: More Than Just a Gestational Agent

Did you know that progesterone, despite its name meaning 'promoting gestation,' serves far more functions than just supporting pregnancy?


Progesterone is a steroid hormone , which means it's chemically similar to cholesterol.


Progesterone is produced not only in the ovaries during the menstrual cycle and in the placenta during pregnancy, but also in the adrenal cortex , highlighting its systemic importance.


During pregnancy and for the first ten weeks, the  ovaries  take charge of progesterone production. Then, the placenta takes over for the rest of the pregnancy.


Our body uses progesterone (P4) as a base to  create other sex hormones.


P4 is produced in many tissues and plays several important roles.


During pregnancy, it helps bodily processes run smoothly. It also prepares the lining of the uterus (endometrium) for pregnancy during ovulation and keeps other hormones balanced.


Recent studies have unveiled the multifaceted roles of this hormone, extending beyond its well-known involvement in the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.


Moreover, it's crucial to note that while progesterone supplements are commonly prescribed, believed that the hormone prevents the mother’s rejection of the fetus early on . Recent research, including a 2022 study by UT Southwestern , has begun to challenge their effectiveness in preventing preterm birth.


This suggests that progesterone's role in pregnancy might be more complex than previously thought. 

progesterone, pregnancy, hormones, miscarriage

1.1. Progesterone and Pregnancy: Side Effects to Consider


Progesterone plays a crucial role in maintaining pregnancy, but like any other hormone, its supplementation can also have side effects.


One of the most such during pregnancy is nausea .


This is because progesterone relaxes the muscles in the uterus, which can slow down the process of digestion, leading to feelings of nausea.


Additionally, progesterone can also cause headaches .


This is due to the fact that progesterone can cause blood vessels to dilate, which can lead to headaches.


Another side effect of progesterone is sleepiness .


This is because progesterone has a sedative effect, which can make you feel tired or sleepy.


These side effects are generally mild and manageable, but if they become severe, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider. 

Women's Health

1.2. The Night-time Benefits of Progesterone

Progesterone also plays a significant part in sleep regulation .


This hormone exerts a sleep-inducing or hypnotic effect , making it beneficial to take at night.


Furthermore, it acts as a potent respiratory stimulant, which has been associated with a decrease in the number of central and obstructive sleep apnoea episodes in women.


This suggests that progesterone could potentially be used as a pharmacological treatment for sleep-breathing disorders.


However, more research is needed to fully understand the extent of progesterone's effects on sleep and its potential therapeutic applications. 

progesterone, pregnancy, hormones, miscarriage

2. A Deeper Look Into Progesterone: The Pregnancy Hormone


Progesterone is an essential hormone in achieving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.


During the first 10 weeks of pregnancy , progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum, a temporary endocrine structure involved in ovulation and early pregnancy.


However, between 8 and 12 weeks , the placenta takes over this role and continues to produce progesterone, maintaining the pregnancy thereafter.


Progesterone is responsible for preparing the uterus for the implantation of a fertilised egg  and for maintaining the uterine lining  throughout pregnancy.


Low levels of progesterone during pregnancy can lead to spotting and even miscarriage.


Furthermore, progesterone deficiency may be linked to recurrent miscarriage (RM), a condition where a woman experiences the loss of three or more pregnancies. 

2.1. The Consequences of Low Progesterone and the Benefits of Supplement Therapy


Low progesterone levels can have serious consequences, particularly for those trying to conceive or maintain a pregnancy.


As progesterone is essential for creating a  thick and healthy uterine lining , low levels can make it difficult to stay pregnant, leading to complications such as ectopic pregnancy.


Outside of pregnancy, low progesterone can cause symptoms like irregular periods ,  mood changes , and trouble conceiving .


Fortunately, there are several ways to treat low progesterone, including oral pills and injections , which can help maintain the uterine lining during pregnancy or IVF treatment. 

progesterone, pregnancy, hormones, miscarriage

2.2. Progesterone Supplements And Preventing Miscarriage


While progesterone has been traditionally prescribed to prevent miscarriage, especially in women with a history of recurrent miscarriages, recent research has begun to challenge this practice.


A comprehensive study conducted by Harvard Health  compared progesterone supplements with placebo pills, a method considered the "gold standard" in research studies.


The results indicated that progesterone supplements did not significantly improve pregnancy outcomes.


This finding contradicts previous studies that suggested progesterone could reduce miscarriage rates , particularly in women who had experienced previous miscarriages.


Therefore, the effectiveness of progesterone supplements in preventing miscarriage remains a topic of ongoing debate in the medical community. 

3. Check your progesterone levels


Many women experience mood swings, fatigue, and other issues due to hormonal imbalances.


The OptimallyMe Female Hormone Test  can help you take control and find the balance you deserve.


This test goes beyond just fertility. It analyses nine key biomarkers, including:


  • Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH): Impacted by ovulation

  • Progesterone: Provides insights into your menstrual cycle

  • Total and Free Testosterone: Plays a crucial role in fertility, sex drive, bone growth, and more!


By understanding these vital hormones, you can gain valuable insight into the root cause of issues like:

  • Mood swings and irritability

  • Low energy and fatigue

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Changes in sex drive

  • Irregular periods or PMS symptoms


Don't keep guessing! Take charge of your health and well-being with the OptimallyMe Female Hormone Test .


It's time to discover the data behind your health and find true balance.

progesterone, pregnancy, hormones, miscarriage

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