Increase Progesterone to Boost Fertility
Do you have PMS symptoms of mood swings, anxiety, low energy, and insomnia? Maybe even one or two or even several days of spotting before your period actually starts? And are you reading this and saying, yeah I have all of these things and they are a pain, but it’s just my body? Maybe you’ve also had a conversation with your OB/gyn about this and she just said that it sounded normal.
Well, I am here to tell you that these symptoms are not normal and you don’t have to just live with them every month. These symptoms are our bodies way of telling us everything isn’t quite in balance. And, they may be an indication that your progesterone may be too low. On top of that, if you are trying to get pregnant, this could be a key reason why that is not happening.
Rhea was 39 year old woman who came to me for fertility advice. She had unsuccessfully been trying to get pregnant for two years. She had a very regular cycle which came every 25 days, with three days of spotting before her next period started. She complained that her libido was tanked and her PMS symptoms had been getting worse over the past six months. One of the first things we looked at was if her progesterone levels were sufficient. And not much of a surprise, but it came back low.
What is Progesterone?
Progesterone is a hormone primarily produced in the ovaries. The production of this hormone happens when a follicle bursts open to release an egg at ovulation. At this time, levels of progesterone begin to rise. This shuts off estrogen production and helps stabilize the uterine lining in preparation for embryo implantation.
Progesterone’s action (along with estrogen) is to produce this super comfy, thick shag carpet out of your uterine lining. This way, a fertilized egg traveling from the fallopian tubes and into the uterus sees it and thinks ‘oh wow, this looks like such a comfy place to settle in for awhile.’
If conception does occur, progesterone levels will rise and help to stabilize the fertilized egg as well. And if conception doesn’t occur, this shag carpet uterine lining is released and menstruation begins.
What are Some of the Signs That You May Have Low Progesterone?
When progesterone drops, the result is more than just what the effects of having low progesterone itself is. It also alters the delicate balance between progesterone and estrogen, essentially creating an environment of estrogen dominance. In addition, progesterone also stimulates GABA receptors in the brain, which is one of the main reasons that when it is low women may feel more mental-emotional symptoms.
Here is a list of some of the main low progesterone symptoms and signs:
Recurrent early miscarriages
Inability to lose weight
Increased weight around midline
Luteal phase defect and/or a luteal phase shorter than 12 days
Low sex drive
Progesterone & Fertility
Having adequate progesterone is hugely important when trying to conceive. As we talked about earlier, one of the main things progesterone does is to help maintain that lush shag carpet uterine lining so that a developing embryo will not only be able to attach but it also helps support the embryo.
If progesterone is low, it can cause issues with uterine lining development and also cause a shortened luteal phase. If progesterone is low, it can cause the uterine lining to fail to develop normally. This can prevent an embryo for implanting or prevent growth of an embryo, leading to an early miscarriage.
Fortunately, testing progesterone levels are for the most part straightforward. You can ask your doctor to run a serum progesterone test on you.
**The timing of a progesterone test is very important. Make sure to get the lab test done 7 days after ovulation. If you are unsure of the exact day of or if you are ovulating, purchase ovulation test strips to determine.
In general, progesterone should be over 10 ng/ml 7 days after ovulation.
Ways to Boost Progesterone
Remember my patient Rhea I told you about in the beginning of this article? Well, we worked on a few things simultaneously to increase her fertility. But one of the main things we focused on was to raise her progesterone levels. She began on Vitex, CoQ10, and some other lifestyle modifications. Within two cycles, her periods lengthened to 27 days and her PMS was greatly reduced. Within six cycles of working together, she was pregnant at 40 years of age and went on to have a healthy baby girl.
Here are a few of my targeted suggestions for raising progesterone naturally:
Take Vitex - Vitex has been shown to increase progesterone, decrease PMS symptoms, and increase fertility. Dosage is 500-1000mg daily. If you are trying to conceive, I suggest taking the product Fertility Blend for Women. It is a supplement containing vitex as well as some other nutrients important for conception. It is supported by a double blind placebo controlled study which found women taking the supplement increased their progesterone levels significantly and normalized the length of their menstrual cycles.
Vitamin C - Vitamin c has been shown to raise progesterone in women with both low progesterone and luteal phase defect. Doses in the study were 750mg/day & I usually recommend around 1000mg. Foods to eat which are high in Vitamin C are bell peppers, kiwi, strawberry, citrus, spinach, cabbage, oranges, broccoli, tomato, and kale.
Magnesium - What isn’t magnesium good for? Magnesium helps build hormones, including progesterone. Dosage is 150-300mg at night. You can also eat more foods containing magnesium such as spinach, almonds, avocado, kidney beans, black beans, cashews, seeds, and brown rice.
Ditch the coffee & the wine - I’m sorry to take away some of the fun stuff but caffeine and alcohol absolutely can have a negative effect on hormones. That burst of caffeine cause a rise in cortisol, potentially causing an impact on the production of progesterone. Caffeine has also been linked to PMS symptoms. Alcohol can also have an adverse affect on your hormones, and it has been linked to premenstrual anxiety, emotional swings and headaches.
Stress Management - Decreasing stress levels is also essential to balancing hormones. When stress is high, it increases cortisol levels which in turn tell the body to essentially make more cortisol and less of our other needed hormones, like progesterone. See my article here.
Are you a woman trying to get pregnant and looking for natural ways to increase your fertility and balance your hormones? Book a FREE Fertility Breakthrough call with Dr. Terzo here.