Both men and women have progesterone. However, in women, these are significantly vital to manage pregnancy, menopause, and overall, wellbeing. Being a woman, it might pay to spike her progesterone levels, if she wants to be pregnant. Lesser progesterone levels could result in:
- Miscarriage or infertility
- Erratic menstrual cycles, intermittent spotting and uterine bleeding
- Sex drive
- Gaining weight or obesity
Primarily produced in the ovaries, after ovulation each month – progesterone is a female sex hormone that is an essential element in the menstrual cycle and maintaining fertilization. Mainly progesterone makes the uterus conducive for pregnancy while adjusting your menstrual cycle. When ovulation occurs after each periodic cycle, progesterone aids in the thickening of the uterus wall so that the eggs can be fertilized. In the absence of fertilized eggs, the progesterone levels decline to kick in the menstrual cycle. If the fertilized eggs get embedded in the wall of the uterus, progesterone supports the lining of the uterus, throughout the pregnancy period.
Post-pregnancy, progesterone is vital to develop the breast and prepare it for breastfeeding. Progesterone also works with other hormones like testosterone and estrogen to make their functions more effective. Progesterone in men, aids in the development of sperm.
Source of natural progesterone
Soybeans and yams-based products are a natural source of progesterone that is weighed identical to the progesterone in the woman’s body. However, conventional table yams do not provide the same level of benefits.
Most commonly available as a cream, progesterone is readily absorbed by the skin surface to penetrate well into the blood vessels. These creams are easily found over the counter in most pharmacies and health stores.
The application of progesterone cream is usually recommended as a size of a dime, to be applied under the wrist, stomach, thighs or arms, twice daily. For optimum results, premenopausal women are recommended to apply the cream, fourteen days prior to the menstrual cycle. For menopausing women, it would be beneficial to use the cream for 3 weeks, and repeating the same course, after a week’s break.
Progesterone pills are yet another alternative, but less effective as the liver tends to break down the progesterone. As a result, a lesser quantity reaches the bloodstream. Hence the oral consumption of progesterone would need to be more than the cream.
The insertion of progesterone vaginally enhances the health of tissues present in the uterus to increase the rate of fertility and increase the probability of pregnancy.
Some foods (and necessarily not all) can inspire, production of progesterone in the body. These commonly include chickpeas, tuna, broccoli, beans, cabbage, kale, pumpkin, nuts, cauliflower, spinach, shellfish, whole grains and Brussel sprouts. Bananas, dark chocolate, shellfish, walnuts, and cabbage help in reducing the estrogen from the body, increasing the ratio of progesterone. Including these in your diet, could also help to elevate progesterone levels.
Some other recommendations to increase progesterone levels
In addition to above, women could also raise the progesterone level by other means.
- Healthy body weight: excessive weight triggers estrogen production in women and imbalances progesterone levels. Having a healthy body does not necessarily imply having raised progesterone levels. However, it balances hormone levels.
- Stress reduction: Excessive stress could trigger the production of stress hormones that could convert progesterone to cortisol. Stress could be controlled through reading, meditating music, and involving relaxation activity.
- Avoid excessive exercise: While exercising would mean a healthy body, overexerting could turn the other way around and produce stress hormones, instead of progesterone. So, avoid excessive exercise.
- Acupuncture: This traditional Chinese therapy promotes corpus luteal (a mass of cells that develops in an ovary and is responsible for producing progesterone hormone during early months of conception) function in producing high levels of progesterone and increasing blood flow to the uterus. Patients who take Chinese medications pre and post egg retrieval during IVF (In vitro fertilization) have high progesterone readings. This therapy of inserting needles to stimulate the body has a very good effect and enhances IVF results.
It is important to understand that lower levels of progesterone don’t reflect poor health in women. However, it might pay to consult your general practitioner, to identify the reasons for lower levels of progesterone.