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.
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.
So, how can you measure your progesterone levels? Simple, just get a PdG 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:
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:
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.
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 7DPO–10DPO (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.
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.
Typical progesterone blood test results for different groups of people include:
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:
Contrarily, your progesterone levels may be low because of: