Originally published: 17.FEB.2020
Last updated: 11.DEC.2023

Often referred to as the pregnancy hormone, progesterone plays a crucial role in the female reproductive system. This is why, when levels of progesterone dip, it can bring with it a whole host of symptoms and questions, the most popular being: what causes low progesterone levels in women?

Learn what you need to know about low progesterone levels in women including the primary causes and how you can get insights into your hormone health and progesterone levels.

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What is the Function of Progesterone in Women?

Why should we care if our progesterone levels have dipped? Progesterone is a steroid hormone that, alongside estrogen, regulates the menstrual cycle. It is particularly crucial during the second half of the menstrual cycle, known as the luteal phase. During this phase, progesterone prepares the uterine lining for a potential pregnancy by making it thick and receptive to a fertilized egg.

In short, progesterone plays a significant role in the body, responsible for:

  • Regulating the menstrual cycle
  • Preparing the uterus for pregnancy
  • Maintaining a healthy pregnancy

Related article: Low Progesterone Symptoms: Your Quick Guide

What Causes Low Progesterone in Women?

A small change in your progesterone levels can understandably trigger significant responses in your body including irregular periods, mood changes, and weight changes. Which is why it’s important to know the potential reasons behind it.

These are just three of the primary causes of low progesterone:

#1 Age

As women age hormonal fluctuations become more obvious. This is especially true when women are approaching perimenopause when ovarian function can decline, leading to a decrease in progesterone production [1]. During menopause, it’s common for several hormones to be thrown off balance, including progesterone. This drop in hormones can often translate into physical symptoms which include mood changes, breast tenderness, weight gain, insomnia, and thyroid issues [3].

This natural aging process can result in low progesterone levels and various associated symptoms.

#2 Stress

Chronic stress refers to an extended period when the mind or body is overwhelmed. Chronic stress can have a profound impact on hormonal balance, including progesterone levels. When you experience chronic stress, your body works hard to cope with it and as a result, the production of cortisol - a stress hormone, increases. As progesterone is the precursor to cortisol when cortisol levels increase, progesterone levels decrease [2].

#3 Ovary/Ovulation issues

If you’re experiencing issues with ovulation or have a condition that affects the function of your ovaries such as polycystic ovary syndrome, you’re more likely to experience low progesterone. Low progesterone may also interchangeably lead to issues with ovulation which is why a progesterone test is often used to measure ovulation function.

Should I Check My Progesterone Levels?

A progesterone test may be recommended to you during pregnancy to monitor the growth of the placenta, during menopause to explain certain symptoms, or as part of an overall health screen.

If you are concerned about your progesterone levels, you can get tested by your doctor. You can also test with LetsGetChecked’s Progesterone testing option. Online results will be available within 2-5 days and our dedicated medical team will be available to answer any questions you may have regarding your results or recommended next steps.

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  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. Menopause. Online: Mayoclinic.org, 2017

  2. Body Logic. Bioidentical Hormones: Progesterone. Online: Bodylogicmd.com, 2017

  3. Mayo Clinic Staff. Menopause. Online: Mayoclinic.org, 2017