Progesterone levels usually rise after ovulation. If you have high progesterone levels, it indicates that you have ovulated. If the egg does not get fertilized, then your progesterone levels drop resulting in the start of your menstrual cycle.
However, some women experience low levels of progesterone which may lead to difficulty with getting or staying pregnant.
A recent study says that 48% of women with low progesterone levels are at high risks of miscarriages.
So, how can you check the level of your progesterone? In this article, you will find out about this pregnancy hormone and ways to detect when something goes wrong.
Progesterone is a kind of steroid hormone that is produced after ovulation and during pregnancy. It is secreted by the adrenal cortex and the ovaries.
Your ovaries contain multiple follicles which start growing during the first half of your menstrual cycle.
Of these only one follicle grows to maturation and releases an egg. Once the egg is released, the ruptured follicle forms the corpus luteum. The cells of the corpus luteum help to secrete progesterone.
Surprisingly, this female hormone is also secreted from the testes of a man. However, it is produced in little amounts that go unnoticed. Progesterone helps with sperm production in men.
During ovulation, an egg is released from the ovary and into the fallopian tube. The progesterone level is low because high levels stop ovulation and prepares the body for pregnancy or menstruation.
A 2015 study records that a progesterone level greater than or equal to 5ng/ml confirms ovulation. Generally a level above 3 shows that ovulation has occurred and a level about 10 points out that your body’s getting ready for pregnancy.
Despite these facts, progesterone levels may be higher than 10 and show no sign of pregnancy or lower than 5 and you’ll be completely normal.
It is essential to know the level of the pregnancy hormone especially if you want to get pregnant. Progesterone also helps confirm ovulation..
Generally, your progesterone remains low (< 0.89) at the beginning of your menstrual cycle. It remains that way throughout the pre-ovulation stage.
Once ovulation occurs, the progesterone levels increase and your body starts preparing for pregnancy.
After ovulation, progesterone levels rise and peak 5-9 days after ovulation. At the middle of your luteal cycle, your progesterone levels begin to fall if fertilization does not take place.
If your progesterone level is high during your luteal cycle then it means you have ovulated. If your progesterone level is low then it may mean that you did not ovulate.
Progesterone levels are measured through a blood test. It is expected for your progesterone levels to fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle.
Hence, the figures vary at different times of the month. Your doctor may ask you to come for blood tests if your menstrual cycle is irregular.
Progesterone levels are typically weighed in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The chart below shows the levels of progesterone in different phases of your menstrual cycle or pregnancy.
The pregnancy hormone, progesterone, is vital especially in a woman’s child-bearing years. You may want to pay more attention to your body if you are hoping to get pregnant soon.
Low progesterone levels can lead to abnormal uterine bleeding or irregular periods in women who are not pregnant. In pregnant women, low progesterone levels could lead to miscarriages.
In some cases, low progesterone levels during pregnancy can show an ectopic pregnancy.
An ectopic pregnancy means that the fertilized egg is growing outside of the uterus. You should see your doctor immediately if you have an ectopic pregnancy as it can be fatal without immediate care.
Learn More: Low Progesterone: All you need to know
Progesterone helps to prepare the uterus for pregnancy.
After ovulation, the follicle from which the egg was released starts secreting progesterone that the uterus needs for growth and nutrition. This hormone causes the uterine lining to get thicker. A thick uterine lining helps to provide a good environment for the fertilized egg.
Having a balance in the pregnancy hormone is important. Increasing progesterone levels help in providing nutrition to the growing fetus during pregnancy.
Usually, your progesterone levels should be tested 7 DPO (days after you ovulate).This is because it can take up to seven days for progesterone to increase after ovulation.
However, this method has its drawbacks. Studies show that progesterone levels fluctuate day by day, even hour by hour. So if you were to get a blood test in the morning, you could get very different results than the afternoon. A single progesterone test is not sufficient enough to give you maximum results.
If you are testing Progesterone only to confirm ovulation, you can test between day 2 and day 7 after your ovulation day. A rise in progesterone confirms that you ovulated. You may need to take more tests if you want to find out whether your progesterone levels are sufficient to support a healthy pregnancy.
If your doctor recommends progesterone medications for you to boost the hormonal level, then you should begin 2–4 days after ovulation. They would tell you how to use the pills. It is advisable to continue your medications until a pregnancy test which is two weeks after your ovulation.
Normally, progesterone delays period so ensure you don’t miss your pregnancy test. If your test is positive then continue the pills till your 10th week of pregnancy. If not, then stop the progesterone drugs to allow your period to start in about 2-7 days.
If you have noticed symptoms of low progesterone level then you may want to run a test and find out the reason.
Your doctor will run several blood tests to determine your highest progesterone level after ovulation. However, this method is usually stressful.
Another method is using fertility monitors, like Inito. This home testing system can check your progesterone, estrogen and luteinizing hormone levels. Checking the three results helps you understand what happens during ovulation.
The different results you may see are:
1. High fertility – This means your estrogen level is high and you are approaching ovulation. Now is the best time to conceive.
2. Peak fertility – Both Estrogen and LH levels are high enough for ovulation to occur within the next 24-36 hours.
3. Ovulation confirmed – Your progesterone level has increased and ovulation has occurred.
Fertility monitors like Inito are more convenient to use than visiting your doctor for blood tests. You can test your urine and get your results quickly. Inito is also more accurate than other monitors which only test for one or two reproductive hormones.