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How Progesterone Helps To Prevent Miscarriage

That progesterone helps to prevent miscarriage can come as a comforting reality for expecting mothers who fear or are at the risk of losing their babies.

A miscarriage occurs when a growing baby dies in the mother’s womb before the 20th week of pregnancy. It can be one of the hardest moments in the lives of people hoping to expand their family. Unfortunately, miscarriages are not uncommon. 

Research says about 10 to 15 pregnancies out of a 100 end in miscarriage. 

Sometimes, miscarriages can happen three or more times in a row. Studies show that about 1% of women have repeat miscarriages. 

Most times, miscarriage rears its ugly head in the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy, just before the twelfth week. Miscarriage can also occur in the second trimester (between weeks 13 and 28) but the incidence of this is not found to be common.  

Although there is no cause for some miscarriages, it has been suggested that low levels of pregnancy hormones like progesterone can result in pregnancy loss. Boosting progesterone levels can be a way for women to prevent the traumatic experience of losing their babies.

What is progesterone and why is it important?

Progesterone is a female pregnancy hormone. Think of it as the helping hand that regulates your monthly cycle, right from ovulation down to menstruation. Besides maintaining your womb during the luteal phase, progesterone also prepares your body for pregnancy.

Your ovaries release an egg every cycle. The follicle that releases the egg forms the corpus luteum. This structure releases progesterone to support pregnancy. Progesterone makes your endometrium thicker and prepares for attachment of a fertilized egg to the womb. It also prevents the muscles in your womb from contracting, which can prevent implantation. Know more here.

If there is no fertilized egg to hook on to the uterus, the progesterone level drops and your period begins. On the other hand, if implantation is successful, the corpus luteum will produce high levels of progesterone. This continues all through the first trimester till about the 10th week of pregnancy. Afterwards, your baby’s placenta takes over progesterone production till delivery.

Since the role of progesterone during the pregnancy period is highly elevated, low levels of it can result in a miscarriage. 

Miscarriage Reasons And How Progesterone Helps In Prevention

Hormonal disorders aren’t the only causes of a miscarriage. Other causes include:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Exposure to high levels of radiation 
  • Wrong implantation of fertilized egg in the womb
  • Age
  • Uterine disorders
  • Unpredictable opening and closing of the cervix during pregnancy
  • Smoking and hard liquor 
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Medications
  • Not eating properly

But let’s remember that the presence of progesterone is essential to the process of you getting pregnant. Thus, maintaining high levels of progesterone helps to prevent miscarriage chances.

Your body normally makes more than enough progesterone during pregnancy. If your progesterone levels drop during pregnancy, your physician may recommend progesterone supplements for you. 

These supplements have chemical compositions similar to the progesterone naturally found in your body. A doctor’s prescription of progesterone supplements is expected to be safe for you and not likely to cause any complications.

How To Track Your Progesterone During Pregnancy

Tracking your progesterone through your pregnancy can keep you prepped in advance for any circumstances you may face. 

Here is a chart that indicates the normal range of progesterone levels: 

  • Before ovulation < 0.89 ng/mL
  • During ovulation ≤ 12 ng/mL
  • After ovulation 1.8 – 24 ng/mL
  • 1st trimester 11 – 44 ng/mL
  • 2nd trimester 25 – 83 ng/mL
  • 3rd trimester 58 – 214 ng/mL

For a normal pregnancy in the first trimester, progesterone levels should value above 25 ng/mL about 98% of the time. Find more information here.

You can use a fertility monitor like the one Inito offers. This home testing device can check the level of your essential pregnancy hormones like progesterone, estrogen and luteinizing hormone. This device can help you track your hormone levels and give you actual values. You can then consult a doctor in case of low progesterone values through the second half of your cycle.

Signs Of Miscarriage

There’s no single yardstick for measuring the possibility of miscarriage in people. The signs that you may experience might differ from the signs others experience. It all depends on the unique status and progress of your pregnancy.

Common symptoms of a miscarriage include:

  • Intense spotting
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Secretion of tissue or fluid from the vagina
  • Intense lower back ache 
  • Stomach cramps
  • History of miscarriage

While the presence of these symptoms does not always indicate the possibility of miscarriage, it is best to alert your doctor to discuss further steps if you notice them. 

How Progesterone Helps To Prevent Miscarriages: Steps To Take

Though not all miscarriages can be prevented, those caused by low progesterone have a chance of being avoided. Research still continues on the effectiveness of these methods touted to reverse low progesterone, but these are some routes you can explore:  

  • Taking progesterone injections: Normally, your doctor will give you this injection between weeks 16 and 37 of your pregnancy or until delivery. The shots continue weekly.
  • Rubbing progesterone cream: These over-the-counter creams are made by formulating a chemical that has the same composition as natural progesterone. They can be applied directly to skin. However, these creams are not foolproof and it would be best to consult your doctor for the right dosage.
  • Progesterone supplements: You can take progesterone orally through pills/capsules, but not without due consultation from your doctor. Foods that have a high level of L-Arginine like salmon, chicken, pork, beans can also help to boost your progesterone levels naturally.
  • Progesterone suppositories: These can only be inserted into the vagina. They increase the levels of progesterone which can prevent miscarriages. Consult your doctor for a proper prescription.
  • Progesterone pessaries: This prosthetic device contains the right amount of progesterone which is inserted into your vagina. It is used to correct abnormalities in the female reproductive system, especially low levels of progesterone. 

Be sure to call the attention of your physician if you notice any changes in heartbeat, swelling or redness in your legs, breast tenderness, headaches, weight gain or loss, acne, and nausea.

Here are some other health tips you can follow through your pregnancy to reduce chances of a miscarriage: 

  • Get proper and frequent prenatal care
  • Avoid smoking, taking alcohol or hard drugs 
  • Eat a balanced diet, consume 400 mcg of folic acid daily
  • Maintain your weight by exercising regularly and keep stress levels in check  
  • Maintain good hygiene to avoid infections
  • Reduce the amount of caffeinated drinks to less than 200 mg daily
  • Take essential vitamins to supplement the nutrients that your baby needs
 

Do I Need To Take Progesterone In Every Pregnancy?

No you don’t. However, your doctor may recommend progesterone to you if you have had a history of recurrent miscarriages. Once you have a successful pregnancy, your doctor may decide whether to continue it or not. 

And don’t worry! Having a miscarriage doesn’t rule out the chances of getting pregnant later. In fact, 75% women who have had a recurrent miscarriage end up with healthy pregnancies.

Summary

  • Progesterone is a female sex hormone that helps to regulate the female menstrual cycle and pregnancy. 
  • Your ovaries produce progesterone even when you’re pregnant before the placenta takes over. 
  • Miscarriage can be caused by a lot of factors, one of them being low progesterone levels.
  • Your doctor may use a blood test to check your progesterone levels. You can also use home tests like Inito to check your hormone levels. 
  • If your progesterone levels are low, you can use injections or creams to boost hormones and prevent a possible miscarriage. Be sure to keep your doctor in the loop if you explore progesterone treatments.

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  1. Alves C, Rapp A. Spontaneous abortion. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022.
  2. Dugas C, Slane VH. Miscarriage. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022.
  3. Michels TC, Tiu AY. Second-trimester pregnancy loss. Am Fam Physician. 2007;76(9):1341-1346.
  4. Duckitt K, Qureshi A. Recurrent miscarriage. BMJ Clin Evid. 2011;2011:1409. 

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