Two of the most important hormones affecting women’s bodies are estrogen and progesterone. These two hormones work hand in hand. And in this post, I want to share with you how to boost progesterone because low progesterone levels can be one of the main reasons why your period is irregular or missed altogether.
Causes of low progesterone:
- Estrogen dominance
NOTE: I’m not a doctor or a specialist! In this post, I just share MY experience and different ways that helped me to improve my progesterone levels and to get my period back. Please check out my full health disclaimer here before you continue reading this article.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that I have PCOS. And I’ve been struggling with irregular periods since puberty. Sometimes I only had my period once in 6 months (!). But the most annoying thing was that my blood tests never showed significant disbalance in my hormones. That’s why it was very difficult to treat my condition because all doctors kept telling me that my hormones are within normal ranges and there was nothing to worry about. They could not find the reason behind my PCOS symptoms.
But what is interesting – my progesterone and estrogen levels were always low (yes, within normal ranges, but still in the lower part). That’s what made me thinking and continue researching for more information. And the more I read the more convinced I became that my low progesterone is the cause of my problems. And when I fixed that (using the methods that I share below + following other tips for managing PCOS) I finally got my period back and now it is REGULAR!
So if your blood tests look similar (please make it done before trying any methods!), if your progesterone is low and you experience the following symptoms:
- Insomnia or sleep disturbance
- Low libido
- Mood changes, anxiety, and irritability
- Breast tenderness
- Headaches and migraines
- Irregular or missed periods
- Mid-cycle spotting
then keep reading because this post provides you with the best information on how to boost progesterone levels naturally.
Q&A Low progesterone PCOS
Does low progesterone cause weight gain?
Yes, it can. When both estrogen and progesterone are unbalanced, it can lead to weight gain. For instance, if the amount of estrogen in your body more than the amount of progesterone, estrogen dominance occurs. It creates a lot of unpleasant symptoms such as water retention, painful periods and weight gain. Progesterone, on the other hand, aids the thyroid in maintaining your metabolism which helps your body use fat for energy. When you have too low of progesterone, fat has a higher probability of being stored rather than being burned off. Another thing to note is that when progesterone is released following ovulation, there is an increase in appetite. Therefore, you are more likely to crave more food. That, combined with a decreased metabolism and increased salt and fluid retention may lead you to see the numbers on the scale start to rise.
Does low progesterone cause miscarriage?
Yes, not producing enough progesterone may lead to trouble getting pregnant or carrying the fetus to term. Without a sufficient amount of progesterone, the uterine wall becomes less viable and the egg will not be able to attach. Low progesterone can also lead to missed or irregular periods, making it more difficult to conceive. Progesterone is just as important after conception. The hormone is essential in enforcing the uterus and carrying the fetus to term. It is also essential in the development of the fetus and strengthening the pelvic wall muscles. It is what causes pregnancy symptoms like nausea and breast tenderness. Progesterone is essential in keeping the uterus healthy and strong during the development of the fetus throughout the pregnancy. Because it is the main hormone that supports pregnancy, low progesterone may lead to a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
Does low progesterone cause missed periods?
Yes, low progesterone can cause missed or delayed periods. Progesterone is essential in ensuring a healthy and regular menstrual cycle. This hormone is also responsible for preparing your uterus for conception. It does this by thickening the uterine lining in order for a fertilized egg to attach. However, if the egg enters the uterus unfertilized, then progesterone helps trigger the shedding of the uterine lining which leads to a period. But if your progesterone level doesn’t rise as it should during your cycle (meaning, progesterone remains to be low), it can prevent the uterine lining from thickening, and your period just doesn’t come.
Although symptoms such as spotting or irregular periods may not be a direct indicator of low progesterone levels, if it happens often enough it may be something to look into and speak to a doctor about.
Low progesterone and estrogen
Understanding the implications of low progesterone means understanding its relationship alongside another important female hormone: estrogen. As I’ve mentioned before, estrogen and progesterone work hand in hand, maintaining balance in your body. So when one of them is out of balance, it affects another one as well.
Estrogen is produced by the endocrine system and its role is promoting growth. There are different types of estrogen that emerge during unique times in a woman’s life. It is needed particularly during puberty and pregnancy and is involved in the menstrual cycle.
Progesterone is produced by the ovaries, placenta and adrenal glands. The hormone is secreted by the female reproductive system to regulate the inner lining (endometrium) of the uterus. It plays a key role in regulating the menstrual cycle and developing and maintaining the early stages of pregnancy.
When working in harmony, the two hormones are able to balance out one another’s negative aspects, however, low progesterone and higher estrogen levels can lead to some serious health concerns.
Estrogen dominance occurs when we have too much estrogen in the body in the relation to other sex hormones, such as progesterone. Estrogen dominance can affect a woman’s body in many ways, including abnormal menstruation (heavy/painful periods), PMS, headaches, decreased sex drive, bloating, mood swings, fatigue, anxiety & depression, breast tenderness, endometriosis, fibroids, and hormonal weight gain.
There are 2 cases of estrogen dominance: first is when your estrogen levels are too high, so your body produce too much of this hormone; and the second is when your estrogen levels are slightly high or even normal, but your progesterone is too low which creative estrogen dominance over progesterone.
So, in order to balance your hormones and get back your period you have to boost your progesterone levels.
How to boost progesterone
Studies suggest that improving insulin sensitivity can dramatically increase progesterone levels in those with luteal phase defects, or with other disorders when the body does not produce enough progesterone.
One of the best ways to manage insulin is to follow a healthy low-carb diet. The key takeaway is that by lowering your consumption of carbs and sugars you help your body to avoid insulin spikes and high blood sugar levels.
A low carb diet looks different for everyone depending on your age, sex, current fitness level, etc. To start, audit your current diet. Consider swapping certain foods for healthier alternatives. You do not have to do a complete food overhaul right away, just be more mindful about the foods you consume on a regular basis.
You can also check my post with the best PCOS supplements for weight loss and overall health, where I share what I use on a daily basis to treat my PCOS and improve insulin resistance.
Stress tends to be one of the biggest causes for irregular or missed periods in women. When the body is overly stressed it goes into protection mode and pauses some bodily functions like your period. Your brain is also responsible for telling your reproductive organs when it’s time to reproduce.
So, in order to boost progesterone start thinking of ways you can practice mindfulness. Whether it’s meditating, journaling, or binging tv shows, figure out what helps you destress and carve out some time for it every day.
I’ve noticed that 1-2 weeks before my expected period date, my body is very sensitive to any kind of stress. So during this time, I try my best to avoid stressors, even small ones such as intensive workouts. I really slow down, take in easy, choose yoga and stretching instead of going to the gym. I add additional hour of sleep, treat myself to a warm bath with magnesium salt every evening. And take even more of Adrenal support supplement to make me feel relaxed and peaceful. And that’s what makes a big difference!
It’s also a good idea to reduce caffeine during this phase. Caffeine can trigger a stress response throughout the body. So, by reducing the amount of coffee you consume you are allowing your body to reduce inflammation and increase progesterone levels naturally.
Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste tree berry)
Vitex has been shown to reduce prolactin secretion while increasing progesterone levels. It has also been shown to be beneficial for PMS.
I’ve been using this EU Natural Conceive supplement with Vitex and I love it so far! The formula is amazing as it contains inositol for balancing insulin levels and Ashwagandha for managing stress, as well as other essential vitamins and minerals.
Vitex has been shown to reduce prolactin secretion while increasing progesterone levels. It boosts dopamine and lowers hormones that inhibit ovulation, thus becoming an effective treatment for PCOS. This herbal medicine is typically taken first thing in the morning. In addition to helping women with PCOS, Vitex has been shown to be beneficial for PMS, breast pain, irregular periods, and much more. Although the medicine is known to have numerous benefits, it is important to take a 5-day break from it every month to avoid lessening its effect on the body. Additionally, it is recommended to only take Vitex for 3-6 months. Vitex should also not be used right after going off birth control, in combination with IVF or other fertility drugs, nor should it be given to people under 18 years of age. So before taking it, please consult your doctor as Vitax should be used only if you don’t have contraindications.
Zinc is a vital mineral that helps your body in many different ways. One of those ways is boosting progesterone levels. Adding more zinc to your diet is a natural way to help balance your hormones.
Vitamin B6 aids your reproductive system and taking it not only improves cognitive development and protein metabolism, but it will help increase the amount of progesterone and lowers the amount of estrogen your body creates.
Much like Zinc, Magnesium is another way that your body can naturally produce more progesterone. Studies found that the mineral lowered estrogen levels in the body, thus increasing progesterone.
Vitamin C not only helps boost your immune system, but it is another way of naturally boosting the amount of progesterone in your body. Adding the vitamin to your diet is a healthy way to balance your progesterone levels.
EVENING PRIMROSE OIL
Evening primrose is a plant full of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids that is a healthy way to boost progesterone levels naturally due to its healthy composition.
Healthy fats, or unsaturated fats, such as those from avocados, fish, and olive oil are full of nutrients and linked to increases in progesterone.
TRY SEED CYCLING
Seed cycling is the practice of consuming certain seeds during specific times of your cycle. This will help regulate and balance your cycle due to the nutrients the different seeds provide. You do this by consuming “1 Tbsp each of ground flax and pumpkin seeds in the first half of your cycle (day 1 until ovulation) and 1 Tbsp each of sunflower and sesame seeds in the second half of your cycle (ovulation until your next period).”
I really hope this post was helpful for you and these methods will help you to boost progesterone and get your period back! Please let me know if you have any questions, or share your experience. And if you find this post useful, share it using the social media links below.