Progesterone is a naturally occurring steroidal hormone belonging to the progestogen hormone group. Progesterone controls a number of important functions in the female body; thus, it is vital that progesterone levels remain stable.
Progesterone levels vary depending on the menstrual cycle phase and menopausal stage. Levels are high during pregnancy and low in young girls and postmenopausal women.
Roles of Progesterone in the Female Body
Progesterone plays a key role in many bodily functions, not the least of which are blood clotting, gum health, and menstruation among others. However, progesterone's biggest responsibility is preparing the female body for pregnancy, ensuring that the womb is protected and ready to receive a fertilized egg.
- High progesterone levels cause a spike in libido just before menstruation. Consequently, the absence of menstruation after menopause can have a dampening effect on libido.
- Progesterone produces vaginal mucus that protects the area from infections.
- Immediately before menstruation, high levels of progesterone prompt the endometrium to prepare the uterus for a fertilized egg.
- Progesterone produces a vaginal mucus that is impenetrable to sperm and protects the cervix from infection prior to menstruation.
- If the uterus does not receive a fertilized egg, progesterone levels fall, causing the uterine lining to be expelled from the body; this result in normal menstrual bleeding.
- Progesterone lowers the immunity of the uterus to allow for the entrance of a foreign body, or the fertilized egg.
- Low progesterone levels control the elasticity of the organ to prevent the fetus from prematurely exiting the uterus. Conversely, during birth, progesterone levels drop to allow the fetus to exit.
- High levels of progesterone prevent lactation during pregnancy, while low post-pregnancy levels help to promote lactation.
Mood and emotions
When there is an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone levels, the production of serotonin is interrupted. Serotonin is a mood-regulating neurotransmitter that sends signals relating to emotional mood, appetite, and memory around the body. Consequently, a loss of progesterone can result in unexpected mood swings.
- During menopause, low progesterone levels can cause the body temperature to drop and result in hot flashes and night sweats.
- Low levels of progesterone also halt menstruation. When progesterone fails to prepare the uterus for a pregnancy, normal menstrual bleeding cannot occur.
- Progesterone stimulates the formulation of new bones and promotes bone density.
- Progesterone reduces gallbladder activity, preventing gallbladder disease and promoting a healthy digestive tract.
- Progesterone increase levels of anti-inflammatory agents, which contribute to a healthy immune system.
- Progesterone aids in blood clotting and cell oxidation.
- Progesterone helps convert stored fat into energy.
Effects of Progesterone in the Female Body
The effects of progesterone in women are numerous. The most important ones include:
- Progesterone hormones are neurosteroids that influence synoptic functioning; synapses are the structures in the brain by which neurons travel. Consequently, progesterone helps to improve brain functioning, especially memory and thought development processes.
- Progesterone also helps protect neurons. A drop in progesterone levels has the potential to cause brain damage.
- An increase or decrease in progesterone often results in breast pain and tenderness.
Heart and liver
- Progesterone regulates blood clotting, which helps to maintain vascular and cardiovascular health.
- Progesterone helps stabilize levels of copper and zinc in the body and promotes liver health.
- Progesterone controls the production of estrogen, an excess of which can result in endometrial cancer. A balance of progesterone and estrogen is vitally important.
- Low levels of progesterone can cause infertility and increased risk of endometrial cancer.
- High levels of progesterone help to keep bones strong and resilient.
- Decreasing jaw bone density can lead to receding gums and the loss of teeth.
- A loss of bone density can lead to osteoporosis, a condition characterized by brittle, fragile bones.
- Progesterone deficiency leaves the cervix prone to infection, because the protective vaginal mucus dries up.
- Low levels of progesterone can cause a loss of saliva, which can lead to plaque buildup and gingivitis.
- Decreased progesterone levels mean decreased collagen levels, making the body less able to repair itself following an injury.
Being able to identify progesterone fluctuations is essential to alleviate the symptoms associated with an imbalance. Continue reading to identify progesterone fluctuations by using progesterone tests.