Progesterone is a steroid hormone involved in the menstrual cycle, implantation, embryogenesis and maintenance of pregnancy.

Progesterone belongs to a class of hormones called progestogens . Its main producer is the ovaries, in a structure known as the corpus luteum, which is formed by the residual granulosa cells at ovulation. Along with estrogens, the hormone is responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics in women.

Normal progesterone levels

The progesterone levels are relatively low in children and postmenopausal women . Adult males show levels similar to those of the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle in women. Similarly, the placenta is capable of producing high levels of progesterone and can also be synthesized in the adrenal glands and liver, but to a lesser extent.

The progesterone levels depend on the time that measure, since fluctuate throughout the cycle in order to fulfill its function.

Progesterone concentration is relatively low during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, rises after ovulation, and remains elevated during the luteal phase. Progesterone levels tend to be <2 ng / ml before ovulation and> 10 ng / ml after ovulation.

In the early stages of pregnancy, the progesterone concentration remains initially at luteal values, but with the onset of luteal-placental change, the concentration rises to levels of 200 ng / ml at the end of pregnancy. After delivery and during lactation, the progesterone concentration drops again.

Causes of elevated progesterone levels

The high progesterone levels are generally a good sign if a pregnancy is sought, since they allow the fertilized egg to implant and start to develop, thus avoiding loss of pregnancy in the early stages of embryonic development.

If progesterone levels remain elevated throughout the menstrual cycle, this could represent some other underlying problem, such as ovarian cysts , overproduction of the adrenal glands, or even some glandular neoplastic pathology.

Signs and symptoms of high progesterone levels

If you constantly have the following symptoms, you could be having high progesterone levels :

  • Headache
  • Breast hypersensitivity.
  • Emotional lability (anxiety, depression, melancholy, etc.).
  • Weight gain.
  • Increased body temperature
  • Abdominal distension due to decreased peristalsis (movement of the intestinal loops).
  • Constipation.
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Decreased libido (decreased sex drive)
  • Decreased vaginal lubrication.
  • Pain during intercourse (Dyspareunia)
  • Fluid retention (edema or swelling predominantly in the lower limbs).
  • Risk factor for urinary tract infections (generates greater urinary tract stasis) and incontinence.

How to treat elevated progesterone levels?

The first thing to do is to determine once the symptoms are identified, the quantitative measurement of progesterone levels in order to know how high they are.

Medical Assessment

It is essential to correct the underlying cause that may be causing these elevations, for which it may be necessary to carry out complementary imaging studies, such as pelvic ultrasound or tomography, as well as specialized evaluation for the physical examination and data from the interrogation that provide evidence about accurate diagnosis.

In the event that progesterone levels are not so altered and there is no apparent organic cause, it is possible, in the first place, to make changes in lifestyle to help reduce the symptoms associated with high levels of progesterone.

Improve diet

A key point is to improve the diet, recommending a balanced diet, rich in vegetables, containing salmon, avocado, wheat, rice, alfalfa and apples.

Other medical recommendations with: Avoid the use of contraceptives that contain only progestogens such as the subdermal implant, intrauterine devices with levonorgestrel or even contraceptive pills not combined with estrogens, since they promote symptoms and with the simple withdrawal of the hormonal method everything can back to normal.

Performing physical activity, such as walks and relaxation exercises (yoga) can help regulate progesterone levels by promoting the release of biochemical mediators and neurotransmitters such as endorphins that improve mood and counteract the aforementioned symptoms.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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