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- Functions of Progesterone
- Causes of Low Progesterone
- Signs and Symptoms of Low Progesterone
- Side Effects of Low Progesterone
- Foods that Increase Progesterone
- Help for Low Progesterone
What is Progesterone?
Progesterone is one of the most important hormones produced by the female body. It plays a critical role in stimulating and regulating various functions within the body.
Progesterone is a fundamental hormone that is also responsible for the production of additional hormones such as estrogen and cortisone.
Not only does progesterone prepare your body for conception and pregnancy but it also regulates the monthly menstrual cycle. During the reproductive years, progesterone is released from the ovaries every month. It sends out a signal to the body to thicken the lining of the uterus, which enables the fertilized egg to attach and develop..
Progesterone also helps to induce bleeding in women with infrequent and irregular menstrual periods, most common in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It is important to note that while synthetic progestins may increase progesterone levels, there are numerous side effects.
Progesterone and estrogen levels decline as a woman ages, particularly when menopause occurs. Low progesterone levels affect the menstrual cycle and also contribute to aging. The skin loses its elasticity while the bones may become brittle and weak increasing the risk of conditions such as osteoporosis.
Functions of Progesterone
Progesterone has several other important functions within the body including:
- Regulates the thyroid gland and moderates the negative effects of estrogen dominance on the functioning of the thyroid, thereby preventing symptoms of hypothyroidism
- Helps with immunity
- Reduces swelling and inflammation
- Keeps blood clotting levels stable
- Stimulates collagen production which increases skin elasticity
- Keeps bones and skeletal muscles strong
- Helps to maintain nerve functioning and protect against deterioration
Causes of Low Progesterone
Menopause: During Menopause the body undergoes numerous changes including a decrease in hormone levels including progesterone. Lower levels of both progesterone and estrogen are responsible for many of the symptoms of menopause such as what appears to be weight gain caused to water retention.
Smoking: Cigarette smoking is believed to shut down progesterone receptors in the body. Smoking has also been shown to trigger premature menopause and increase infertility in younger women.
Signs and Symptoms of Low Progesterone
- Hair Loss
- Dry Eyes
- Panic Attacks
- Angry or Emotional Outbursts & Mood swings
- Muscle Pain
- Breast or Nipple Soreness
- Muscle Spasms
- Abdominal Gas & Bloating
- Low Energy (Fatigue)
- Sleep Problems Such as Insomnia
- Skin Problems
- Water Retention
- High Cholesterol
Side effects of Progesterone
Side Effects of Progesterone During Pregnancy
- Shortness of Breath (i.e. "In the first few weeks of pregnancy, a normal increase in the hormone progesterone cause a shortness of breath.")
- Acid Reflux and Heartburn
- Lower Back Pain
Side Effects of Artificial Progesterone
- High Blood Pressure (i.e. "Artificial progesterone can lead to high blood pressure, blood clots, and even heart attacks.")
- Facial Rashes
Foods to Raise Progesterone Levels
Turmeric, found in curry, is known to help increase the body's progesterone levels. Other herbs such as thyme and oregano are thought to have the same properties. Adding one of these ingredients in each meal may help to maintain hormonal balance.
Foods rich in vitamin B-6 including walnuts, whole grains, fortified cereals, and soy milk can also help maintain estrogen-progesterone balance. Also, try to only eat hormone-free meats, poultry and dairy which can disrupt hormonal balance.