There are many factors that can affect fertility. Everything from age to weight to health issues can determine whether it is possible for you to conceive. One in particular that can be especially detrimental to your chances to conceive are your hormones. Hormones are usually referenced when discussing mood swings, but reproductive hormones work together to stimulate ovulation and menstruation in women and sperm production in men. Progesterone is a progestogen steroid hormone, secreted by the corpus luteum, an integral part of a woman’s reproductive system. It is a reproductive hormone produced in a woman’s body after ovulation and during the second half of her menstruation cycle.
What Does It Do?
Progesterone prepares the endometrium, the mucous membrane lining the inside of the uterus, for the possibility of a pregnancy after a woman has ovulated. The hormone triggers the uterine lining to thicken, which will allow a fertilized egg to attach and develop. In addition to that, it also prevents the muscle contractions that would cause the body to reject an egg. High levels of progesterone, however, prevent a woman from ovulating.
During a pregnancy, this hormone stops a woman’s immune system from rejecting the fetus as a foreign body. Itcontinues to stimulate the body and blood vessels in the endometrium that will nourish the growing fetus. Once the placenta forms, it too begins to secrete progesterone, causing the levels to remain elevated throughout the pregnancy so that the body cannot release more eggs.
Testing for Progesterone
Both a lack or an overabundance of this hormone in your body could cause complications when trying to conceive. Some symptoms of too much progesterone include but are not limited to:
- Allergy symptoms (Hives, Asthma)
- Breast tenderness
- Depression and anxiety
- Dry eyes
- Polycystic ovaries
- Irregular periods
Signs of a lack of progesterone include:
- No period
- No ovulation
- Blood clotting
- Loss of libido
- Facial hair
- Hot flashes
- Memory lapses
Testing for hormone levels can be done by a medical professional or at home. There are multiple tests used to gauge the level of progesterone in the body.
Luteal Phase Testing
The luteal phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle occurs after ovulation and before the period begins. If the date of ovulation is fewer than 11 days before the start of the period, this could signify a luteal phase defect and a lack of progesterone.
A person’s basal body temperature is their body temperature when they are completely at rest. It is used as a method of natural family planning. Ovulation could cause a slight rise in a person’s BBT. As BBT rises, so does progesterone. Tracking BBT could also help to provide information on progesterone levels.
Blood Hormonal Testing
Testing hormone levels through blood tests could be especially beneficial because it can give your doctor a full view of all hormone levels. A full profile of your hormone levels will allow your doctor to better assess your particular situation, and provide specialized feedback on how to treat it.
When is the Best Time to Test?
The right time to test for progesterone depends on the individual and the length of their menstrual cycle. The average ideal time is the mid-luteal phase, either seven days after ovulation or seven days before menses is expected to occur.
Hormones play an essential role in everything from menstruation, ovulation, conception, and pregnancy. The level of progesterone in your body while trying to conceive could mean the difference between success and failure.
Talk to your doctor determine the right time in your cycle to test for the hormone progesterone. If you are interested in learning more about improving fertility or in exploring your conception options, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for our newsletter below.