Hormonal balance, such as having low progesterone and/or high estrogen can be such a struggle for females. Throughout each month we have highs and lows of our hormones that can cause acne, anxiety, irritability, and/or migraines. Then, we hit menopause and it can sometimes feel like our hormones and body are against us! For many, progesterone levels drop. Stop the madness – what is normal? WHY are we feeling these things? WHY do some women stay even while other women’s symptoms are so extreme?
It is all about hormonal balance. Your hormones are like a symphony and must work together to help support you. Let’s examine why low levels of progesterone in women can be damaging and what you can do to fix it.
Estrogen and progesterone are the two major female hormones that fluctuate throughout your cycle. The corpus luteum is an organ that is critical to the luteal phase of fertility (after ovulation); it produces progesterone (1).
In a normal menstrual cycle, progesterone levels rise after ovulation in order to sustain the uterus lining, which thickens each month for a potential pregnancy. If there is no pregnancy, normal progesterone levels then drop which stimulates your cycle.
One common imbalance women can experience is low levels of progesterone. How can you tell if you have low progesterone? There are some classic symptoms to look out for.
Low Progesterone Symptoms
- Irregular Menstrual Cycles
Progesterone is the main hormone responsible for regulating your cycle. Typical menstrual cycles are about 28 days long. If your cycle is much longer, much shorter, or just unpredictable then this could be due to low levels of progesterone.
- Headaches or Migraines
Although not the only cause of migraines, low levels of progesterone may play a role for some of us. Women with low levels tend to get migraines, particularly before and during their cycle. This might be related to the increase in estrogen. Higher estrogen can cause vasodilation and water retention which can trigger headaches.
- Mood changes, including anxiety or depression.
Progesterone is intricately related to your neurotransmitters, particularly GABA. When progesterone is low you, your mental health could suffer. Symptoms may include depression, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia which can get even worse before your cycle.
- Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are typically due to a change in your hormones. When progesterone is low it can cause your estrogen to raise and this imbalance can create hot flashes, particularly at night.
- Weight Gain
That’s right, for many, low levels of progesterone includes weight gain. Ensuring hormonal BALANCE is the key to weight loss for women. Even if you are eating well and exercising, a hormonal imbalance such as low progesterone can create an environment for weight gain.
Low Progesterone in Women
- Infertility and pregnancy complications
If you have trouble getting or staying pregnant it might be due to low levels of progesterone. While infertility and miscarriages can have many root causes, have your progesterone levels checked if you are struggling to get pregnant. Progesterone is responsible for thickening the endometrial lining and getting it ready for pregnancy. If this does not occur or levels do not rise after egg implantation, the pregnancy cannot be sustained. Furthermore, women with low levels of progesterone are also at an increased risk for pregnancy complications (2). Their child is also at a higher risk for autism (2).
- Fibroids, Endometriosis
Again, with low levels of progesterone comes higher estrogen. Higher estrogen, when not balanced with progesterone, or estrogen dominance can lead to fibroids, endometriosis, heavier cycles, cysts, and cystic breasts. Research shows that low progesterone can be a precursor to certain diseases and conditions (3). The good news is if you can balance your estrogen and progesterone levels these things can be avoided!
Do you have any or all of the symptoms mentioned above? If you are struggling with these symptoms, you are not alone. It is time to see a medical doctor about your progesterone levels and why they might be low!
At CentreSpringMD, we can do a blood test to look at your progesterone levels. Then, based on your results, we provide you with a holistic plan to increase progesterone including dietary, lifestyle and herbal support. When necessary, the addition of bioidentical hormones or hormone replacement therapy will be suggested. With the help of a licensed integrative physician, you can have more balanced hormones.
Contact CentreSpringMD today to schedule an appointment.