Low progesterone level makes it difficult for the body to support the complex processes associated with menstruation and pregnancy. Signs of low progesterone levels include:
- missed or late periods
- abnormal menstrual periods
- spotting or cramping during pregnancy
The aging process also affects progesterone and hormones, causing the levels to decline. This can lead to irregular ovulation and periods.
Natural progesterone products
Doctors can prescribe natural progesterone for people with low levels, such as Crinone and Prometrium. These are made from a natural compound called diosgenin and are available in gel and capsule form.
However, there are also many products marketed as natural forms of progesterone. These products are made from soybeans or a wild and inedible Mexican yam called Diascorea villosa.
Wild yam products are not actually a natural form of progesterone, but they contain a chemical that can be converted to progesterone, but only through a series of chemical reactions that occur in a laboratory. Hence, taking a product that contains just wild yam will not provide any progesterone.
Users should also note that wild yam products are not sources of progesterone and the United States Food and Drug and Administration (FDA) do not approve them for treating low progesterone levels.
Food and Progesterone
Food products do not usually contain progesterone. Though some people believe that certain foods may help the body to increase its production of progesterone or balance levels of estrogen.
Note that there is little research to support these claims, and many studies look at the effects in animals or cells in a laboratory setting. More studies are needed to confirm them.
Some foods believed to help low progesterone include:
- Cruciferous vegetables
These contain a chemical called I3C that some research involving animal cells suggests could help to balance estrogen levels in the body. Examples of these vegetables include:
- burssels sprouts
Vitamin B-6 plays a role in liver function, which helps to maintain balanced hormone levels. Foods that are rich in vitamin B-6 include:
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- lean red meat
Zinc has a role in fertility and the development of the body during pregnancy.
The following foods are high in zinc:
- kidney beans
- cashew nuts
Consuming a diet rich in these foods could help reduce any symptoms related to low progesterone and better regulate menstrual cycle. However, there is little scientific evidence to support this.
Natural Remedies for Low Progesterone
There are other options for raising progesterone levels naturally. Having low progesterone levels will not always affect health, and most people with low progesterone levels will not require treatment.
READ ALSO: Effects of Low Estrogen Levels
However, some individuals may choose to use natural remedies to supplement infertility treatment or reduce menopause symptoms. Natural remedies and lifestyle changes to try include:
Stress can raise the body’s stress hormones, which can also affect the ovaries and sex hormones. A woman may miss a period when she is experiencing high levels of stress.
Finding a way to manage stress is vital. Journaling, meditating, and exercising can all be very useful, but what works can differ from person to person.
Taking herbs and supplements
There are some herbs and supplements that can help raise progesterone levels. These include:
- evening primrose oil
Insufficient sleep can raise stress hormone levels and cause other hormonal imbalances. Adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night, but many people get far less than that.
Prioritizing sleep and focusing on good sleep hygiene is essential for everyone, but especially for those people dealing with hormonal imbalances.
Maintai a healthy weight
Individuals who are obese or overweight tend to produce higher levels of estrogen, which can lead to imbalance in progesterone.
READ ALSO: Why Perimenopause Cause Ovary Pain
Maintaining a healthy weight will not essentially raise progesterone levels, but it can help to keep estrogen levels within the normal range, and the two hormones in balance.
Functions of Progesterone
Some functions of progesterone include:
- preventing the smooth muscles in the uterus from contracting
- activating the endometrial lining to thicken in preparation for implantation and pregnancy
- preventing ovulation of another egg
If pregnancy occurs, progesterone produced by the empty egg follicle will help to sustain the pregnancy till the placenta takes over the production of progesterone. Progesterone will help the breasts get ready to secrete milk later on in pregnancy.
If pregnancy does not occur, the empty egg follicle will start breaking down. This decreases the level of progesterone. Once the progesterone level is low enough, the next menstrual flow begins.
Synthetic forms of progesterone are also available which doctors often prescribe as a form of contraception. Progestin-only contraception causes the cervical mucus to be thick, making it harder for sperm to get through. It also causes the endometrial lining thinner to prevent implantation from occurring.
Progestins can also be combined with different forms of estrogen alongside birth control pills and hormonal therapy for those transitioning to menopause.
Benefits of Using Natural progesterone
There can be some benefits attached to using natural progesterone products only. These products must contain progesterone only and prescribed by a doctor.
- a possible protective effect against endometrial cancer
- decreased side effects in comparison with synthetic progesterone
- decreased symptoms of perimenopause
Risks of Natural Hormone Products
There are also potential risks to using natural hormone products, such as progesterone cream. According to research, there are some increased risks for individuals who take hormone replacement or supplement therapy. These risks can include medical conditions such as:
Prolonged used of some types of natural hormones by seniors could lead to breast cancer and heart disease.
Any products containing progesterone can cause the following side effects:
- blurry vision
- weight gain
- breast tenderness
- mood swings
- irritation at the application site
Anyone who experiences severe side effects or side effects that do not go away should contact their doctor.