Progesterone, Why is it so Important?
the keep-it-simple version
I shamelessly stole this amazing blog from another woman who obviously needed some answers as much as I did. I followed her trail of bread crumbs to the website:
Saving Babies Online - Please visit it if you want some really amazing info...
I'd like to thank her for her research, and say a little 'sorry' for stealing her well written info. Not that I feel bad about it. This information NEEDS to be passed around as much as possible.
The Importance of Progesterone:
Progesterone is important not only to keeping a pregnancy but also may determine whether or not you conceive. During your cycle, the uterine lining grows thicker in anticipation of a fertilized egg and progesterone helps ensure the endometrium (lining) is ready. Progesterone is responsible for preparing the uterus for implantation. If you have low progesterone, chances are the baby will not be able to implant which may result in a chemical pregnancy. And, low progesterone may keep you from ovulating.
Keep in mind that once both estrogen and progesterone levels drop, your body prepares to break down the lining and thus your period begins. If your progesterone is dropping during pregnancy, you are in danger of losing the baby.
Some symptoms of low progesterone:
If you have short cycles (25 days or under), you may have low progesterone. As women age, progesterone may decrease as well. Other symptoms may be severe PMS and weight gain. Stress, which stimulates cortisol production, will also decrease progesterone production making conception more difficult and could jeopardize a pregnancy. Progesterone actually produces a more calming effect than cortisol which increases stress.
Natural or Synthetic (man-made) Progesterone:
Although I'm reading a lot on the benefits of both synthetic and natural progesterone in maintaining a pregnancy, there does seem to be some consensus that synthetic progesterone may cause some birth defects. I haven't really seen that those studies are reproducible and am unsure how valid they are, but the risk of birth defects should be taken into consideration.
Natural progesterone, however, looks to be much safer with no side effects as long as you don't overload yourself with it. Also topical progesterone and injected progesterone seems to be more effective than progesterone taken orally.
What it boils down to is this:
If you have short cycles, have suffered from infertility or are a bit older than the average mother, you may want to have your progesterone checked. The best time to get checked is around the time of ovulation so you can begin taking supplements if needed. Natural progesterone seems to be a safer than synthetic progesterone and can aid in both achieving and maintaining a pregnancy. Take what you've learned about progesterone to your doctor. If you have a doctor who is not open to testing for progesterone, it may be time to find a new doctor.
What are Typical Progesterone Levels?
(taken from www.fertilityplus.org 's website)
5+ ng/ml -- A level of 5 indicates some kind of ovulatory activity, though most doctors want to see a level over 10 on unmedicated cycles, and over 15 with medications. There is no mid-luteal level that predicts pregnancy.
10-90 ng/ml -- Average is about 20 at 4 weeks LMP, and 40 at 14 weeks LMP. It is important to note that while a higher progesterone level corresponds with higher pregnancy success rates, one cannot fully predict outcome based on progesterone levels.
25-90 ng/ml -- Average is 40 at beginning, 90 at end.Third Trimester 49-423 ng/ml Usually peaks at about 175.
One note, FertilityPlus has some wonderful information, however, they do take the stance that beginning progesterone supplements after a positive test is unlikely to do much.
I've been able to find studies online to contradict that opinion. I'll be sharing some of those studies below!
Studies involving Progesterone
why progesterone may be more important than you or your doctor realize
Feel free to take a look at the links and then take this information and discuss it with your health care provider.more to follow...
A combination treatment of prednisone, aspirin, folate, and progesterone in women with idiopathic recurrent miscarriage: a matched-pair study.
In a nutshell, this study found that taking this combination resulted in a much higher rate of live births (77% vs. 35% in the group who were not treated) in women who have had recurrent miscarriages.
Use of synthetic progesterone in the treatment of threatened habitual miscarriage
Synthetic progesterone was begun no earlier than 7 weeks in women who were 7 to 16 weeks pregnant and experiencing a threatened miscarriage. Of those studied, approximately 8% miscarried, 9% experienced preterm birth and 82% gave birth 'normally'.
Effects of vaginal progesterone on pain and uterine contractility in patients with threatened abortion before twelve weeks of pregnancy.
This study found that the use of vaginal progesterone diminished pain and contractions in women with threatened abortion. They also found that the placebo group had twice the miscarriage rate of the supplemented group.