Who knew how much we needed it?
I recently went into Elite for my quarterly check up and labs and found out I was REALLY low in progesterone. As the PA continued to ask me questions about certain things I may have been experiencing, I was shocked. Several little things I had just decided to accept as a normal part of aging weren’t normal at all.
Signs of Low Progesterone:
In women, low progesterone can cause irregular periods. It can also make it difficult to get pregnant. Women with low levels who do get pregnant have a higher risk of miscarriage. That’s because progesterone helps the uterus maintain the pregnancy. Also, women who have low amounts of this hormone may have too much estrogen. That can cause weight gain, loss of sex drive, and gallbladder problems.
Here are some signs that you might have low progesterone:
- Abdominal pain
- Breasts that are often sore
- Spotting between periods
- Vaginal dryness
- Depression, anxiety, or mood swings
- Low libido
- Low blood sugar
- Headaches or migraines
- Brain Fog
Low Progesterone in Men
When men have low levels of progesterone, they also have low levels of testosterone. Some of the symptoms in men are the same as in women, such as depression, irritability, and low libido. Other symptoms are different and vary by age. Here are some symptoms you might have:
How Low Progesterone Is Treated
Low progesterone in men is trickier to treat. Often there’s an underlying cause for the low progesterone. When doctors treat that cause, progesterone levels may go back up. Leading a healthy lifestyle, including exercise, a nutritious diet, 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, and managing your weight can help keep your hormones in balance.
My Particular Experience:
Within the last 3-4 months, I noticed my memory suffering in ways that were alarming. I forgot things that were highly important and caused stress for myself and family members. My husband would ask me to pay a bill or sign him up for something and neither would get done. Needless to say, it was scaring me, but I kept that a secret. I thought it might be my diet, the heat in Texas, age, dehydration etc. I just never considered the idea that it might be something that was as easy as HRT.
I’ve always been a happy person by nature. It takes a lot to put me in a bad mood, but lately, not so much. I even noticed my forehead doing that crunch thing that causes those 2 lines between your eyes to deepen as we age. As funny as that sounds, it’s a weird thing to notice and even weirder to not have a clue how to help it. All the Botox in the world couldn’t keep my mood from wanting to crinkle up my forehead in disgust. THIS WAS SO NOT NORMAL.
About two months ago while on vacation, I noticed my stomach hurting profusely after one particular meal. I chalked it up to indigestion and popped a couple of Tums hoping to be healed by the next morning. These symptoms not only stuck around, they got worse. It got to the point of me barely being able to eat anything at all. I refused to succumb to a gluten allergy (all of the sudden), or to anything else. I was convinced something was wrong, I just wasn’t sure where to begin.
I get headaches, occasionally, yes. But when you start getting a daily headache and just taking a couple of Excedrin to move on, that’s a problem. This also became a norm for me. Every day I was waking up with a slight headache that slowly progressed throughout the day. I have no idea why I was just accepting all these newfound ailments, but I was. Until I received that BELOVED phone call from Dr. Michele.
Progesterone SAVES the DAY…Everyday!!!!
The Doc explained that my progesterone was exceedingly low and asked if that has ever been an issue before. I did tell her that with both pregnancies I was put on progesterone but never really thought much about it. She explained the need (the GREAT need) for the hormone and all the symptoms that come along with not having enough. I was experiencing MOST of them noticeably. She explained that with even a low dose of progesterone I would start feeling like myself again quickly. She was right!
The First Sign of HEALING:
My stomach suddenly started feeling less bloated and I was able to EAT again. I could wear my bathing suit and not feel like a water retaining sea cow. It was so nice to be able to order my favorite Caesar salad and margherita pizza again and feel no pain afterwards. Believing that a hormone can cause such stomach problems is hard to wrap my head around, but I’ve felt the proof. My headaches are gone, and I am back to my old self as far as remembering to pay that bill goes.
AN Unexpected Bonus:
It could be the brain fog that’s lifted, but I have newfound energy as well. I’m waking up with a plan and the energy to go make things happen. I was in such a slump of waking up fogged and doing my best to get everyone out the door, I truly forgot what I was supposed to feel like.
If you aren’t feeling MOST of these things daily, it may or may not be progesterone, but please know, you SHOULD be. Life is WAY too short to NOT feel your best.
Natural Ways to Increase Progesterone:
Maybe you’d like to try eating the foods that can help with progesterone production? We understand that, so here is the best list we could find to help you get started:
Natural progesterone foods
While foods don’t necessarily contain progesterone, some foods may help stimulate the body’s production of progesterone. These include:
- Brussels sprouts
- whole grains
Some foods are also associated with lowering the amount of estrogen in the body, which could increase the ratio of progesterone to estrogen. These include:
Other ways to naturally increase natural progesterone
In addition to considering the use of natural progesterone treatments, there are other ways a woman can increase her body’s natural progesterone. She can:
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Excess weight causes a woman’s body to produce more estrogen. This creates an imbalance in progesterone. While maintaining a healthy weight doesn’t necessarily mean that a woman will make more progesterone, it does mean her hormones will be more balanced.
- Reduce stress. Stress triggers the production of stress hormones and can cause the kidneys to convert hormones like progesterone to cortisol. Examples of steps to relieve stress include meditation, journaling, reading, listening to music, or participating in other relaxing and enjoyable activities.
- Refrain from overexercising. Physical activity can go a long way in reducing stress levels and maintaining a healthy weight. However, excessive exercise can have the opposite effect. It can cause the body to produce stress hormones over progesterone.
It’s important to remember that low levels of this hormone don’t mean that a woman is in poor health. Talk to your doctor to see if they can help identify the causes of low progesterone.
Sometimes causes aren’t so clear, but if your doctor can provide a diagnosis, they can also help with a treatment.
What’s a normal progesterone level?
Progesterone levels are measured through a blood test. It’s important to remember that progesterone levels fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle, so levels can vary throughout the month.
Progesterone levels are measured in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The chart below lists normal levels of progesterone for an adult female during different points of the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
|Progesterone level (ng/mL)
Progesterone is found in much lower levels in men and isn’t typically tested unless adrenal gland dysfunction is suspected. Normal levels are less than 0.20 ng/mL.
Progesterone During Pre and Post Menopause:
Basically, between the ages of 45-55 a woman can experience most of the symptoms that come along with menopause. So, anything lower than the numbers charted above are signs of pre or post menopause. To give you an example, I was at a negative 12 and really just want to register having SOME progesterone in my system. The same went for my testosterone, it registered at a negative 4 one year ago. Having regulated testosterone has changed my life in SO MANY WONDERFUL ways, so it was crazy not to try the same with progesterone.
Tip of The Day:
The bottom line is this; the world of hormonal balance has come a LONG way and it makes no sense not to benefit from the progress. I admit that I never really wanted to use hormones to help me get through my day, but after the past 4 months of realization, I’m a believer. Luckily, I’m right at 45, so the symptoms have just started. Hopefully, I can continue to keep things regulated with the help of my labs and the Docs at Elite. All you have to do is GO FIND OUT, it’s THAT easy. YOU just may find out you’re missing something that can change your life for the better. Cheers to REALIZATION!!!!!