Progesterone is a hormone produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands. It is normal for progesterone levels to fluctuate frequently during a woman's lifetime, as the hormone is affected by ovulation, pregnancy, and menopausal changes. Progesterone levels are at their lowest in young girls and menopausal women. They reach their highest levels during ovulation and pregnancy. Keep reading below to learn more about the role of progesterone during a woman's major life stages.
Progesterone's Role during Ovulation
In the second half of a woman's menstrual cycle, progesterone levels rise and secrete special proteins in the uterus. These special proteins signal the uterus to prepare for a fertilized egg during ovulation. If fertilization does not occur, progesterone levels decrease, signaling the body to discard the egg and allow menstruation to occur.
Thus in premenopausal women, progesterone levels fluctuate over the course of the menstrual cycle. On average, progesterone levels are between 8-10 ng/ml (nanogram per milliliter).
Progesterone and Placenta Production during Pregnancy
During pregnancy, progesterone levels are approximately 10 times higher in a woman than when she is not pregnant. This is because the placenta produces high levels of progesterone from the end of the first trimester through the rest of pregnancy. A drop in progesterone levels is one signal the body gives to induce labor.
Progesterone Levels during Menopause
During menopause, the production of essential reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone slows dramatically. This drop in progesterone levels may result in many symptoms, including: loss of libido, mood swings, osteoporosis, night sweats, hot flashes, and increased risk of endometrial cancer.
While progesterone levels may become dangerously low during menopause, this can also swing to higher levels in the premenopausal phase. Symptoms of high progesterone levels include: breast tenderness, anxiety, bloating, weight gain and urinary infections.
Progesterone and Postmenopause
Women who have reached the postmenopause phase can expect to have extremely low levels of progesterone due to the fact that they are no longer menstruating. Low levels of progesterone indicate infertility, and can also lead to weight gain.
The symptoms caused by a progesterone imbalance can lead to serious discomfort for women in any stage of life. You should consult with your doctor if you think you're suffering from progesterone imbalance to have an individualized diagnosis and treatment plan, to avoid any serious health risks. Click here to read more about different treatments for progesterone imbalance.