Progesterone is an important hormone not only for fertility, but also for the general well-being of the female body. When this hormone is too low it can lead to menstrual irregularities, infertility problems.
The menstrual cycle
Let's start by looking at how progesterone production varies (or should vary) during the menstrual cycle.
The first half of the cycle (ie starting from the first day of menstruation until ovulation) is called the follicular phase because during this period a follicle matures in the ovaries . About halfway through the cycle the follicle releases an egg: it is ovulation . Up to now, progesterone levels are extremely low. Once ovulation has taken place, the follicle transforms into a structure called the corpus luteum , which for the entire second half of the cycle (called the luteal phase) will produce progesterone in significant quantities .
The function of Progesterone basso sintomi is to prepare the body for a possible pregnancy : in particular, this hormone stimulates changes in the uterus which are essential for implantation of the fertilized egg. If fertilization has taken place, progesterone levels will remain very high for the duration of the pregnancy, guaranteeing its success. If, on the other hand, fertilization has not occurred, the corpus luteum disappears and the progesterone levels drop abruptly : this is the signal that starts the new menstruation. And the cycle begins again.
Low progesterone: causes and consequences
So, if all goes as it should, progesterone is very low during the follicular phase of the cycle, and increases in the luteal phase . But if ovulation does not occur and therefore the corpus luteum does not form, or if it forms but does not produce adequate quantities of hormones, progesterone levels will remain low even in the second half of the cycle.
There are therefore basically two situations in which one has low progesterone:
An anovulatory cycle , i.e. in which ovulation does not occur. This in turn can have several causes. Among younger women, the most common is polycystic ovary syndrome , while after the age of 40 it is often physiological hormonal changes that precede menopause .
A corpus luteum that is not functioning properly ( luteal insufficiency ). The causes of this condition are not fully known, but an excess of free radicals in the ovaries is thought to play a role.
Low progesterone levels can cause difficulties in getting pregnant and / or miscarriages . But recent findings indicate that this hormone's effects go far beyond reproductive functions, since it plays a beneficial role on the cardiovascular system, bones, skin and even the nervous system . So keeping your hormone system in balance is important even if you don't plan on having children.
Low progesterone: could this be the case?
Without the regulatory action of progesterone , the uterine mucosa thickens more than it should ; when it falls apart during menstruation, the flow could be particularly abundant.
Presence of fertile mucus also in the second half of the cycle.
Looking at the vaginal discharge, it can be seen that it changes throughout the month . Immediately after menstruation they are absent or scarce, with a pasty consistency. On the other hand, near ovulation they become abundant, transparent, fluid and filamentous, similar to egg white: it is the so-called fertile mucus, which favors the survival of spermatozoa and therefore conception. In the second half of the cycle, thanks to the action of progesterone, the losses become scarcer, thicker and white . If this change does not occur, it is possible that too little progesterone is to blame.
Basal temperature that does not rise or rises little during the second half of the cycle. One of the effects of progesterone is to raise your body temperature: if you measure it at the same time every day, for example in the morning before you get up, you should see an increase of about half a degree after ovulation . But if the progesterone does not rise, the temperature will also remain low.
Progesterone is a fundamental hormone for female fertility, and a deficiency can make it difficult to get pregnant but also interfere with general well-being .