The Role of Progesterone in Pregnancy
Progesterone is a female hormone produced by the ovaries. The hormone is released after ovulation and works to prepare the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) for implantation of the fertilized egg. If pregnancy does not occur, progesterone levels drop, triggering the start of menstruation.
When pregnancy takes place, the ovary continues to make progesterone during the early weeks of gestation until the placenta takes over progesterone production.
Symptoms of Low Progesterone
A low progesterone level can disrupt implantation and lead to infertility or early miscarriages. This is also referred to as a luteal phase defect since it occurs during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Symptoms include:
- Short menstrual cycles – can indicate a luteal phase defect that affects progesterone production or causes a premature drop in progesterone
- Irregular periods – including heavy bleeding, spotting or skipped periods
- Recurrent miscarriages – two or more miscarriages may also indicate that the ovaries are not producing enough progesterone
Diagnosis of Low Progesterone
Over-the-counter ovulation kits that track ovulation can offer information about the length of the luteal phase. A short luteal phase indicates progesterone levels may be low.
In addition to menstrual history, blood tests can be used to measure progesterone levels. On cycle day 21, progesterone levels can be measured to determine if the ovary is producing an adequate amount to support a pregnancy.
Rarely, endometrial biopsy is performed to determine whether progesterone levels are adequate.
Treatment of Low Progesterone
Symptoms of low progesterone may be treated with supplemental progesterone given in oral, vaginal or injectable forms. Some of the most common medications used in women with low progesterone levels are: compounded progesterone, Crinone, Endometrin, Progesterone in oil, Prometrium or Provera.
Dallas-Fort Worth Fertility Associates cares for women experiencing symptoms of low progesterone in Southlake, Keller, Grapevine, Colleyville, Denton and their surrounding areas.