Progesterone Fertility Guide

article overview
  • How Progesterone Works
  • Progesterone Deficient?
  • Hormone Testing
  • Support Progesterone Levels
  • How to Use Progesterone Cream
  • Progesterone & Miscarriage
  • Progesterone & PCOS
  • Progesterone & Endometriosis
  • Progesterone During Pregnancy
  • Summary

Hormonal balance is an important factor when it comes to healthy fertility and getting pregnant as well as feeling balanced overall.  During the course of a menstrual cycle various hormones are working together in a complex symphony to trigger the various components of ovulation and menstruation.

Progesterone is one of these key hormones.  After ovulation, progesterone production is triggered by Luteinizing Hormone (LH) which stimulates the corpus luteum (remanant egg sac) in the ovary to produce progesterone.

One of the main actions of progesterone with fertility is to help support a developing embryo

If pregnancy occurs, the production of progesterone from the corpus luteum continues for about 7 weeks (it is then produced by the placenta for the duration of the pregnancy.  If pregnancy did not occur, the period begins 14 days after ovulation.  When fertilization does not occur the corpus luteum disintegrates, which causes the level of progesterone to fall and the endometrial tissue to disintegrate and shed as menstruation.

What Does Progesterone Do?

  • Progesterone maintains the lining of the uterus which makes it possible for a fertilized egg to attach and survive
  • Makes cervical mucous accessible by sperm
  • Allows the embryo to survive
  • Prevents immune rejection of the developing baby
  • Allows for full development of the fetus through pregnancy
  • Helps the body use fat for energy during pregnancy
  • Prevents secondary sexual development
  • Increases libido around ovulation
  • Activates osteoblasts to increase new bone formation
  • Protects against endometrial, breast, ovarian and prostrate cancer
  • Normalizes blood clotting

Are Your Progesterone Deficient or Estrogen Dominate?

Too much estrogen in the body

One of the main reasons women are progesterone deficient is because they have too much estrogen in the body.  Estrogen dominance can happen for many reasons:

  • Commercially raised meats and dairy contain large amounts of estrogens, and consuming them can cause hormonal imbalance
  • Pollution and stress mimic estrogen at the estrogen receptor sites.
  • Eating a large amount of processed soy products can also mimic estrogen.
  • PCOS and endometriosis can also have an estrogen dominate action.
Not enough progesterone in the body

There are many signs that may show up in the body if you do not have enough progesterone in your system during the correct times of your cycle.

You can use this checklist as a guide for determining estrogen dominance or progesterone deficiency.

Hormone Testing

There are a couple of test options.  Tests range from charting your menstrual and basal body temperature, finding out the length of your luteal phase taking a saliva or blood test to find out your progesterone levels.  The questionnaire above will help to point out signs of progesterone deficiency while tests help to confirm it.

BBT Charting

Basil Body Temperature charting can help to determine the availability of progesterone in the luteal phase.  There will be a slight rise in temperature after ovulation has occurred and progesterone has increased.

Length of luteal phase

If the date of ovulation is fewer than 11 days before your period, this could suggest luteal phase defects.  You can detect ovulation using BBT charting, OPK strips.

Saliva testing

Saliva tests are better for testing progesterone and estrogen levels.  You can order an “at home” saliva test that you will take at a certain time during your cycle and then send away to a lab for analysis.  They will mail you back the results so you can find out if you have any hormonal imbalances.

You can find more info on hormone testing here!

Contact us if you would like some help determining which tests to do and with help for deciphering your results and how to correct any imbalance.

How to Support Progesterone Levels

Reduce your exposure to xenohormones

We have become an estrogen dominate society from all the excess estrogen in our foods and environment.

Reduce your exposure by avoiding these xenohormone producers:

  • Solvents and adhesives
  • Meat from conventionally raised livestock (non-organic)
  • Car exhaust
  • Almost all plastics
  • Petochemically derived pesticides, herbicides and fungicides
  • Emulsifiers found in soaps and cosmetics

Go here for more help with reducing toxins in every day living.

Vitex for hormonal balance

Vitex is one of the most powerful herbs for women’s fertility and menstrual health.  Vitex supports hormonal balance in the body by having an effect on the hypothalamic-pitituitary-ovarian axis (hormonal feedback loop), correcting the problem at the source.

Directions for use:

Capsules:  1,000 mg a day – take vitex all month except during menstruation

Vitex works slowly to normalize the body.  Maximum benefits are often achieved after 6-12 cycles with vitex.

Use Natural Progesterone Cream

Natural progesterone cream can help to supplement your body’s own progesterone levels and lead you back to a state of natural balance.

Natural progesterone cream comes from plant fats and oils called diosgenin which is extracted either from Mexican Wild Yams or soybeans.

How to Use Progesterone Cream

Application through the skin has been found to be one of the most effective ways to use natural progesterone.  It is absorbed through the skin into the underlying fat which helps to slowly allow progesterone into the blood.  This way of application helps the progesterone to be “time released” into the blood stream.  To mimic the body’s progesterone cycle, it is best to use progesterone cream twice a day.

The best areas for application are places that have capillary blood flow such as:

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Upper Chest
  • Breasts
  • Inner arms
  • Palms of hands and feet

When it comes to dosage, more is not better.  Too much progesterone can  cause hormonal imbalances, just like too little can.  General suggested dosage is 15-30 mg during the two weeks before your period.

Begin using progesterone directly after ovulation which is usually day 12 – 14 in our cycles and ending usage once menstruation begins.  Once you become pregnant, stay on the progesterone and contact your healthcare provider.

loading dose

A loading dose is useful for women who have had many months or years of anovulatory (no ovulation) cycles, which can create extreme progesterone deficiency.  Each cycle that passes without ovulation can increase estrogen dominance as progsterone stores are depleted.  Very thin women who have little body fat can become estrogen dominant very easily s there is not fat to store extra progesterone.  In either of these situations, use a higher dose of progesterone the first one to two months of progesterone cream use.  This helps to replenish the progesterone stored in the fat of the body.  After 2-3 months the dose can be lowered to the usual dosage.

Loading dose:  1/4 tsp twice a day (40mg a day) for two weeks before to your period

Regular dose:  1/8 tsp twice a day (20mg a day) for two weeks before your period

inducing ovulation using progesterone

Use natural progesterone from days 5 – to 26 in the cycle (stopping on day 26 to bring on menstruation).

Using the progesterone prior to ovulation effectively suppressed ovulation.  After a few months of this, stop progesterone use.  If you still have follicles left, they seem to respond to a few months of suppression with the successful maturation and release of an egg.

Preventing miscarriage and progesterone

Low progesterone during pregnancy can be one cause of recurrent miscarriages.  Progesterone is responsible for creating a healthy environment in the womb by maintaining the uterine lining.  It also reduces the chances of blood clots ad the immune system responding to the fetus as if it was a foreign substance.  Progesterone is one of the main pregnancy hormones

Progesterone and PCOS

Progesterone cream can help to oppose the estrogen dominance that occurs with PCOS.  By using progesterone cream you are able to mimic a natural cycle and help the body to establish its own cycle, including ovulating again.  With progesterone cream, changes in diet and exercise, PCOS could become obsolete.

There are two ways to use progesterone cream for PCOS.  The first is the suppression cycle.  To suppress the cycle one would use progesterone cream on cycle days 7-26.  If you do not have a menstrual cycle you would choose a date on your calendar and mark it as day 7.  Suppressing the cycle allows the body to rest by stopping the cycle of eggs not being released and estrogen/androgen dominance.  Use 60-100mg of progesterone cream a day during the suppression cycle and repeat this for 3-4 months for best results.

establish a cycle with progesterone cream

To help your body create a cycle including menstruation and ovulation, use progesterone cream on day 12 of your cycle and continue until day 26.  By stopping on day 26 your progesterone levels will drop, helping to start your menstrual cycle.  If your cycle does not start, just treat your cycle like you are having one and start again on day 12.  It is best to use a calendar so you can keep track of everything.  After 3 or so months it is suggested to take a break for 1 month so you can see if yur cycle has jump started itself.

Progesterone and endometriosis

If you have endometriosis, use progesterone from days 8-26 of your cycle to reduce the effects of estrogen on the body (estrogen stimulates endometrial growth).  Take a short week off to refresh your receptor sites.  Once the outbreaks of endometriosis are tolerable reduce the usage to days 12 till menstrual cycle.

Progesterone use during pregnancy

Natural progesterone is safe to use during pregnancy with the consent of your doctor or midwife and may prevent first trimester miscarriages that are due to low progesterone but should be used with caution when nursing as it may stop lactation.

In the first trimester of pregnancy progesterone is the sole responsibility of the ovaries, but they often fail to produce sufficient levels to maintain the pregnancy.  By the second trimester, the placenta itself is responsible for producing progesterone and it hikes the level of this hormone to 486% higher than the non-pregnant norm.

If you are taking progesterone and get pregnant, you must continue taking progesterone until  at least the 16th week.  Work with your practitioner; they will monitor your levels to make sure they are healthy for pregnancy.

Summary

Healthy progesterone levels are important during conception and pregnancy.  You can find out if your levels are where they should be by getting tested.  If you do find your levels are low there are many natural ways to promote healthy progesterone levels such as:

  1. Reducing Xenohormones
  2. Using Vitex
  3. Applying progesterone cream

If you become pregnant, continue to use the cream and consult with your doctor or midwife right away.

Let us know how we can help!