Progesterone is referred to as the "pregnancy" hormone. It plays a vital role in preparing the uterus for a fertilized egg. It is imperative that you have enough progesterone and the right ratio between estrogen and progesterone to get pregnant and keep a healthy pregnancy.
There is a good amount of research in the last 10 years + that is bringing to light a potential imbalance between the ratio between estrogen and progesterone in women of all ages. If there is more estrogen in the body (and on the estrogen receptor sites), that leaves a relative deficiency of progesterone based on ideal ratios. The term that is used is "estrogen dominance".
I didn't want this post to by about 'why' we get estrogen dominant, you might want to look that up online or maybe I'll post about that next in my blog. The thing is once you're estrogen dominant, you might need to support your progesterone levels so you can get pregnant and not miscarry.
If you have symptoms such as tender breasts before your period, PMS, fibroids and/or fibrocystic breasts, heavy bleeding, bloating, carbohydrate cravings, migraines or headaches before your period, or fuzzy thinking then you could be estrogen dominant. The second half of your cycle is when progesterone should peak and if you don't have enough, you might experience these types of symptoms.
If you suspect that your progesterone levels are off you can have a blood test to check. The best day of your cycle to do this would be day 21 because that is when your progesterone level should be at it's highest. You could do it on day 22 or 23 as well.
If your levels are low, then you will want to support your self with "bioidentical" progesterone in the form of cream, vaginal suppositories, or sublingual pellets. Preferrably from a compounding pharmacy. You do NOT want to take progestins, synthetic progesterone, or even bioidentical progesterone orally (where you swallow the pill).
This is very often a key factor in getting pregnant. Less so if a woman is 20, but woman aren't usually seeking ways to optimize their fertility at 20. Usually, it's the women in their 30's and 40's who are seeking to optimize their fertility. It happens to be that beginning in our 30's our hormones begin shifting more and it can be possible that estrogen dominance becomes a factor.
I'm NOT saying that all women need progesterone supplementation to get pregnant. I am saying that if you have estrogen dominant symptoms and you've been trying to conceive without luck, or have had a miscarriage(s), it's a good idea to have your levels checked.
Progesterone deficiency is very probably a factor if a woman has had one or more miscarriage(s). It's the first thing I ask about when a woman tells me she's had a miscarriage(s).
Anyway, most traditional doctors don't consider estrogen dominance when trying to help a woman or couple conceive. So, it's worth you knowing about so you can learn more if you happen to fall in this category.
It's amazing how powerful hormones are, they are everything in terms of balance in our body and certainly must be stable for conception to happen.
Also remember that when you are aligning yourself with fertility, you'll more easily find what your system needs to get pregnant, vs. when you tend to be more aligned with infertility, you will find yourself more shut down to what might help you conceive.
Laurie Morse, L.Ac.