Progesterone and Fertility

Progesterone is a crucial hormone that helps a woman become pregnant by preparing the uterine wall for the implantation of a fertilized egg. If there's not enough progesterone, the egg will not implant. Progesterone works in conjunction with estrogen and the two are necessary to carry a baby to full term.

What Does It Do?

Progesterone prepares the uterine wall for implantation by making the endometrium develop and secrete the necessary fluids. It also keeps the endometrium in a thickened condition and stops the uterus from contracting and expelling the developing baby before full term. This hormone fights unwanted cells near the uterus that could damage the fetus or placenta and helps the placenta to function at peak efficiency. It stimulates breast tissue growth and prevents full lactation until after the baby is born. It also strengthens the pelvic wall for labor and keeps the mucus plug covering the cervix strong to prevent infection.

Symptoms of Low Progesterone

There are a variety of symptoms that could suggest low progesterone. Here's a look at some of the symptoms. Keep in mind that these symptoms alone don't guarantee low levels of this chemical.

· Low energy or excessive fatigue

· Dry eyes

· Anxiety

· Excessive hair loss

· Acne

· Unusual mood swings

· Headaches

· Constipation

· Nipple or breast soreness

· Muscle spasms or muscle pain

· Insomnia

· Obesity

· Water retention

· Abdominal gas

Causes of Low Progesterone

Sometimes it's a mystery as to why a woman may have an unusually low level of this hormone. But there are a few potential causes.

Insulin. Resistance to insulin or tolerance to insulin can cause upset to the body's chemical balance including hormones important for reproduction.

Inactivity. Lack of regular exercise can sometimes cause these hormones to decrease production or go completely dormant.

Stress. Stress can have a negative impact on the entire body, including its ability to produce progesterone, by altering hormone productivity.

Diet. Insufficient nutrients can impact your overall health including the way you look and how you feel, as well as the way your internal organs function. Malnutrition also affects hormone production.

Estrogen. Sometimes a woman's body will produce too much estrogen which cancels out the body's ability to create progesterone naturally. While estrogen is necessary, it needs to be balanced with progesterone for maximum fertility. Some doctors suggest that obese women tend to have higher levels of estrogen because fat cells hold this hormone and obese woman have significantly larger levels of fat and more places where estrogen is stored.

Increase Progesterone with Food

Although low progesterone levels are usually treated with medication, women who want to get pregnant or wish to stay pregnant can eat certain foods known to increase progesterone. These foods won't fix a medical problem causing lower levels of this chemical, but they can maximize the progesterone you have. Thyme, curry, turmeric and curry can increase progesterone levels. So can food rich in Vitamin B-6 like whole grains, fortified cereals, walnuts and soy milk.