Pregnancy 2022

Progesterone: what é, what it is for and why it is á low or high

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Progesterone: what é, what it is for and why it is á low or high
Progesterone: what é, what it is for and why it is á low or high

Progesterone is a hormone, produced by the ovaries, which has a very important role in the pregnancy process, being responsible for regulating the woman's menstrual cycle and preparing the uterus to receive the fertilized egg, preventing it from being expelled by the body.

Typically, progesterone levels increase after ovulation and remain high if there is a pregnancy, so that the body keeps the walls of the uterus developing and does not produce a miscarriage. If there is no pregnancy, the ovaries stop producing progesterone and the lining of the uterus is destroyed and shed naturally through menstruation.

Decreased normal levels of progesterone can result in fertility problems in a woman trying to conceive, or serious consequences, such as ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage, in a pregnant woman.

When to take the progesterone test

The progesterone test is usually indicated for women with:

  • Risk pregnancy;
  • Irregular menstruation;
  • Difficulty getting pregnant.

This test is normally performed in prenatal consultations, and can be repeated several times if the pregnant woman presents a decrease in values ​​between each consultation.

Although it can be used during pregnancy, this type of test is not used to confirm whether there is a pregnancy, and the most accurate and recommended test is the beta hCG test. See how and when the hCG beta test should be done.

Progesterone reference value

Blood progesterone values ​​vary according to the woman's life stage and menstrual cycle:

  • Start of period: 1 ng/mL or less;
  • Before ovulation: less than 10 ng/mL;
  • 7 to 10 days after ovulation: greater than 10 ng/mL;
  • Middle of menstrual cycle (ovulation): 5 to 20 ng/mL;
  • First trimester of pregnancy: 11 to 90 ng/mL
  • Second trimester of pregnancy: 25 to 90 ng/mL;
  • Third trimester of pregnancy: 42 to 48 ng/mL.

Whenever there is a change in progesterone levels, the result should be evaluated by a doctor in order to understand if it is a normal change or if it could be caused by some he alth condition.

High progesterone

Progesterone is considered high when its value is greater than 10 ng/mL, which normally happens during ovulation, that is, when the mature egg is released by the ovary.This increase in hormone production serves to prepare the uterus in case there is a pregnancy, and is maintained throughout the pregnancy, to prevent a miscarriage, for example.

Thus, high levels of progesterone are usually a good sign for those who are trying to conceive, as they allow the fertilized egg to stick to the walls of the uterus and start developing, without menstruation or the release of a new egg. In addition, high levels in a pregnant woman also indicate a lower risk of miscarriage.

However, if the levels remain high, even when the woman has not yet fertilized, it may be a sign of some problems such as:

  • Ovarian cysts;
  • Excessive functioning of adrenal glands;
  • Cancer of the ovary or adrenal glands.

In these cases, the doctor may order other blood tests or an ultrasound to assess whether there are changes that may confirm the presence of any of these problems.

To ensure that the progesterone levels are correct, the woman must not be taking any progesterone pills during the 4 weeks before the test.

Low progesterone

When the progesterone value is less than 10 ng/mL, the production of this hormone is considered low. In these cases, the woman may have difficulty getting pregnant, as the amount of progesterone is not enough to prepare the uterus for pregnancy, and menstruation ends up with the elimination of the fertilized egg. These women usually need to use progesterone supplements to increase their chances of getting pregnant.

Women with low progesterone may also experience symptoms such as weight gain, frequent headaches, sudden mood swings, low sex drive, irregular menstruation or hot flashes, for example.

In addition, the progressive decrease in progesterone levels may indicate that the woman is entering the climacteric and, later, menopause, since in this phase there is less activity of the ovaries, resulting in less secretion of sex hormones feminine.

Low progesterone in pregnancy

Low progesterone in pregnancy, especially during the first few months, increases the risk of miscarriage or may be indicative of ectopic pregnancy, and appropriate treatment must be initiated to avoid he alth complications. If the decrease in this hormone happens towards the end of the second trimester of pregnancy, there is a greater risk of premature birth.

How to prepare for the exam

Preparing for the progesterone test is very important to ensure that the results are correct and that you are not being influenced by other factors. So, to take the exam it is recommended:

  • Staying 3 hours of fasting before the exam;
  • Inform the doctor about all the medicines you are taking;
  • Stop using progesterone pills, such as Cerazette, Juliet, Norestin or Exluton;
  • Avoid performing X-rays up to 7 days before;

Also, it is also important to take the test about 7 days after ovulation, as this is the period when levels are naturally highest. However, if the doctor is trying to assess progesterone levels outside of ovulation, to see if they remain elevated throughout the cycle, it may be necessary to do the test before ovulation, for example.

How to correct progesterone levels

Treatment to correct progesterone levels is usually only done when the amount of the hormone is lower than normal and is done with the use of progesterone pills, such as Utrogestan, especially in the case of women with difficulty to get pregnant. In pregnant women at high risk of miscarriage, progesterone is normally injected directly into the vagina by the obstetrician or gynecologist.

However, before starting treatment, the doctor should repeat the test again to confirm the result and exclude other factors that may be lowering progesterone levels, such as having eaten before or being in another phase of the menstrual cycle, for example.

In most cases, the ingestion of this type of medication takes place for 10 consecutive days and after the 17th day of the menstrual cycle, being resumed at each cycle. The duration of treatment and medication doses should always be carefully calculated for each case, and the doctor's guidance is essential.

Possible side effects of treatment

The use of hormones, such as progesterone, can bring some side effects to the body such as weight gain, general swelling, fluid retention, excessive tiredness, discomfort in the breast area or irregular menstruation.

In addition, some women may experience increased appetite, frequent headaches, fever and difficulty sleeping. This type of medicine should be avoided in people with arterial diseases, depression, breast cancer, vaginal bleeding outside the menstrual period or with liver diseases.

How to increase progesterone levels naturally

Since progesterone is a hormone naturally produced by the body, there are some precautions that can increase its concentration in the body, such as:

  • Drink turmeric, thyme or oregano tea;
  • Increase your intake of foods rich in vitamin B6, such as beef liver, banana or salmon;
  • Take a magnesium supplement, with the guidance of a nutritionist;
  • Prefer high protein foods;
  • Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and dark leafy vegetables such as spinach;

Also, opting for organic foods can also help with progesterone production, as the chemicals used in packaged foods can impair the body's ability to produce hormones.

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