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PdG Test: Key Things To Know About Progesterone Tests

Progesterone or PdG tests give you a clearer picture of what is going on in your body.
Sometimes, these tests can show whether you might have a miscarriage or why you can’t get pregnant!

Many conditions that women face, like infertility, ovulation problems, and difficulty sustaining a pregnancy, are linked to progesterone. 

It’s funny how one hormone can cause friction in couples. The fantastic news is that you stand a chance to track the problem. 

In this article, you’ll grasp the if’s and but’s about PdG tests, including who needs them, how it’s done, and what the test results mean. 

What Is Progesterone?

Before we dive into progesterone, let’s talk about some basic facts.

First, every month your body releases an egg from the fluid-filled sac called a follicle. Now, this process is popularly known as ovulation.

Before ovulation, which is during the first half of your cycle, the hormone estrogen is secreted. Once it starts rising, the brain releases the Luteinizing hormone (LH)  to trigger ovulation. 

The surge in LH causes the mature follicle to release an egg. Then, the ruptured sac forms the corpus luteum which produces progesterone. 

Ok, so now that we know how progesterone is formed; let’s understand what progesterone is. 

Progesterone is the dominant hormone in the second half of your cycle which prepares the body for pregnancy. 

You can also see that apart from being produced by the ovaries after ovulation, progesterone is released during pregnancy.

Learn MoreThe Importance of Progesterone Production During Early Pregnancy

The Role Of Progesterone

  • Nourishes your uterine lining to create a nice and cozy environment for a fertilized egg.
  • Keeps you from having your period until the egg can get fertilized and implant on the uterine wall.
    In case your egg does not get fertilized by the sperm, the corpus luteum stops producing progesterone, the uterine lining sheds and you get your period.
  • If you become pregnant, progesterone will stay at a high level in your body, and continue to keep you from having your period. During pregnancy, progesterone levels rise to about ten times their average level!
  • Progesterone also stops uterine muscle contractions that could reject the fertilized egg, supports the growth of the baby in the uterus, & prepares your breasts for milk production in case you get pregnant.

    So, how can you measure your progesterone levels? Simple, just get a PdG test!

What Is A Progesterone Test?

A serum progesterone test is a blood test that measures the amount of progesterone in your body. This hormone is also measured by a urine test to detect the levels of progesterone in your urine. Progesterone must be present for pregnancy to happen. 

However, progesterone tests are not a guarantee that you will know what is wrong with you. But your doctor might recommend additional tests that may help. 

Some of these tests include:

  • Blood tests to check your fertility
  • An ultrasound scan
  • A pregnancy blood test to check for complications
 

When Do I Need A PdG Test?

Progesterone And Ovulation

If you’re trying to find out why you aren’t getting pregnant even after you’ve tried to conceive then you may need a PdG test.

Your doctor will certainly recommend a progesterone test if they suspect that you might not be ovulating due to a hormonal imbalance, PCOS, irregular cycles, or any other reason. 

A case where you don’t ovulate is called anovulation. In an anovulatory cycle, an egg is not released, so progesterone doesn’t get produced either. For pregnancy to happen, you don’t just need successful ovulation, but the sperm should also fertilize the egg and implant it in your womb.

Implantation happens 6-10 days after ovulation and progesterone is what supports it.

Hence, progesterone levels should not just rise after ovulation but remain elevated to allow for the best possible chance of getting pregnant.

Studies show that low values of progesterone after ovulation can reduce the chances of implantation and therefore pregnancy.
Hence, your doctor may check progesterone to know if it is sufficient to support a healthy pregnancy.

Your doctor may also monitor progesterone after you are pregnant to check your pregnancy health and prevent miscarriages. 

Some common uses of a progesterone test include:

  • Finding out why you are not having a successful conception
  • Checking the time you ovulate or if you ovulate
  • Detecting the chances of you having a miscarriage
  • Monitoring a pregnancy with complications
  • Diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy
 

How is a PdG test done?

A progesterone test is typically done as a blood test or as a urine test. The blood test is the most direct and accurate method. However, it is done in the lab, which makes it expensive and inconvenient.

There is a cheaper and more convenient way too. You can track progesterone levels at home using the Inito Fertility Monitor. It measures the levels of a progesterone metabolite known as PdG in your urine.

You can also get a chart of the actual values of your hormone that you can share with your doctor.

graph

 

Ovulation

PdG

Result interpretation

Successful

Strongly Positive

Ovulation occurred, and progesterone levels were high

Weak

Weakly positive 

Ovulation occurred, but progesterone levels were not high enough. This indicates a problem.

Absent

Negative

Ovulation did not occur

When to test for progesterone?

Traditionally, it was believed that your progesterone levels should be tested on Day 21 of your cycle. 

This is because progesterone can take up to 7 days to increase after the seventh day past ovulation. 

But, this holds true only if you have a 28-day cycle and your ovulation occurs on the 14th day of your cycle. 

Ovulation typically occurs 14 days prior to your next period. So, 7 days after ovulation means 7 days prior to your next period. 

You can take the progesterone test 7 days before your next period. However, a single 7 Days Past Ovulation test has its drawbacks. 

Studies show that progesterone levels fluctuate day by day or even hour by hour. So if you were to get a blood test in the morning, you could get different results than if you were to get a test in the afternoon. 

A single progesterone test will not show your levels over time. If you are testing progesterone to confirm ovulation, you can try between Day 2 to Day 7 after your ovulation day. A rise in progesterone in this timeframe confirms that you ovulated.

To know whether your progesterone levels are sufficient to support a healthy pregnancy, you will need to take additional tests. This is because progesterone needs to rise and remain elevated for 7DPO10DPO (days post ovulation).

Although there is no fixed level, progesterone levels of less than 7.9ng/ml in blood or 10 ug/ml of PdG in urine 7-10 days post ovulation is associated with lower successful pregnancies. 

So, if your levels are above that, you don’t have anything to worry about.

 

PdG Test Results

The unit for measuring your progesterone levels is nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). 

After taking the test, the lab will send it to your doctor to interpret it. Different factors like age, sex, menstrual cycle, and pregnancy status can affect your regular results. 

If you are still menstruating, your progesterone level will be low each time you begin your cycle. 

However, you should expect it to rise around 2-7 days after you ovulate. 

Subsequently, it will fall back to its original low level if the egg has not been fertilized.

Normal Results:

Typical progesterone blood test results for different groups of people include:

 

Men, women in their menopause, and women who just began menstruating

less than or equal to 1 ng/mL

Women who are halfway through their menstrual cycle

5 to 20 ng/mL

Women in the first trimester

11.2 to 90 ng/mL

Women in the second trimester 

25.6 to 89.4 ng/mL

Abnormal Results:

If your result falls outside the range for your category, then there may be a problem. 

But remember that your progesterone levels fluctuate multiple times in just a single day. So sometimes, a single abnormal test might be one of the fluctuations in progesterone.

However, when your test results are continuously abnormal, then it might signify a health issue.

Asides from pregnancy, your progesterone levels may be high because of:

  • Ovarian cancer: a growth of cells that starts in your ovaries 
  • Adrenal cancer: growth in the adrenal glands of your kidneys
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: a group of disorders that are caused by lack of an enzyme (21-hydroxylase) needed to make certain hormones 

Contrarily, your progesterone levels may be low because of:

  • Absence of menstruation
  • No ovulation
  • Ectopic Pregnancy: fetus formed outside the uterus
  • Miscarriage: death of an embryo before 2nd trimester

Conclusion

  • Progesterone blood tests are used to check the levels of progesterone in your body.
  • Most people who have a hard time staying or getting pregnant may need these tests.
  • Progesterone tests are used to detect other complications you may be experiencing. 
  • However, these tests are not enough to diagnose all your problems, hence, the need for additional tests.
  • Some of these tests include a home fertility monitor like the Inito monitor. It is designed to check your hormone levels at your convenience.

Was this helpful?

  1. Progesterone test: MedlinePlus medical test.
  2. Cable JK, Grider MH. Physiology, progesterone. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2021.
  3. What is Ovulation? American Pregnancy Association.
  4. Progesterone. Testing.com.
  5. Hormone Health Network – The Endocrine Society: “What Does Progesterone Do?”

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