Low progesterone is a common hormone imbalance, yet few women realize it. We often think of estrogen dominance, while it's technically the same imbalance. If estrogen is too high, then progesterone could be low.
These two sister hormones are in a seesaw effect throughout your monthly cycle and are the hormones that drive your four monthly phases.
Estrogen peaks at ovulation and then lowers soon after. Progesterone steadily rises after you ovulate and either stays high because you're pregnant, or drops signaling the start of your period.
But sometimes it can drop too quickly or you don't have enough to start with, which is when many women will feel something is off.
Here are 6 signs you could be struggling with low progesterone:
1.Irregular, absent, or delayed period
Progesterone is needed for a healthy cycle and to be able to have a regulated period. If you notice your period is more unpredictable, absent or delayed, it can be a sign your progesterone is too low.
2. Short luteal phase
A healthy luteal phase is 10-14 days. For fertility the ideal range is 12-16 days to ensure enough progesterone is present to thicken the lining of your uterus for egg implantation.
If your luteal phase is shorter than these ranges, it can mean your progesterone is low.
3. Feeling depressed, anxious and other mood changes before your period
Not having enough progesterone can lower serotonin and Gaba, two hormones you need to feel relaxed and happy before your period. Progesterone is a very calming hormone, so when we don't have enough it can damage our mood and make us feel very irritable.
I've personally had a history of low progesterone and it lead me to experience PMDD, a more intense version of PMS (you can read more of my PMDD story here). Because my progesterone was so low I felt extremely depressed and anxious exactly three days before my period would start. I didn't feel like myself and felt like something was wrong.
Increasing progesterone before your period can make you feel calm and avoid those mood changes!
4. Bloating before period
With an imbalance of progesterone, which you're learning is very important the one to two week time period before you start menstruating, it can also make you retain more fluid. Progesterone is very helpful for reducing water retention so you don't feel bloated before your period.
5. Migraines or headaches
Estrogen and progesterone drop even further before your period starts. It's this drop that signals your period. With the dip, some women can experience migraines or headaches.
In my own experience, I found increasing progesterone (when needed) helped me avoid hormonal headaches all together.
6. Difficulty conceiving or frequent miscarriages
Progesterone is crucial in order to get pregnant and maintain a healthy pregnancy, especially during the first trimester.
Progesterone thickens the lining of your uterus for egg implantation. Then progesterone needs to remain high as your body works through the early building blocks of the fetus and creating the placenta. After the first trimester, the placenta has formed and it takes over hormonal production for your growing baby.
If you don't have enough progesterone while trying to conceive, you may find you have a harder time getting pregnant. And without enough progesterone, your body may not be able to maintain a healthy pregnancy, causing miscarriage.
Low progesterone made it hard for me to conceive.
When my husband and I started trying to conceive in 2019, my luteal phase was 10 days long, which was enough for a healthy and regular period and I had no bloating or PMS. But when trying to conceive, 10 days wasn't enough for me to create enough progesterone to get pregnant. I worked on lengthening my luteal phase to 12-13 days and my husband and I got pregnant on the second try.
We did sadly miscarry this pregnancy (you can listen to my story here), and become pregnant with our son soon afterwards (low progesterone did not cause the miscarriage).
When we became pregnant again, I had a feeling my progesterone was too low and had it checked with my naturopath at six weeks pregnant. Sure enough, it was too low for pregnancy (my hormones levels dropped considerably post miscarriage, which is something to keep in mind if you do experience one) and I did supplement with progesterone (as prescribed by my doctor) during the first trimester.
You may be struggling with low progesterone, and I'm here to tell you that you can fix it! Understanding your hormones and when/why they're off is key.
Naturally increasing my progesterone, and supplementing when needed, helped me fix my period, get rid of PMS symptoms and give birth to my happy and healthy baby boy in December 2020.
What can you do next?
To get started, get your progesterone tested with your doctor or at home with LetsGetChecked. It's an easy way to see how your body is doing. You can also save 20% off your purchase with the code BOMBSHELL
As a LetsGetChecked affiliate, Balanced Bombshells, LLC may receive compensation from LetsGetChecked if you purchase products or services through the links provided, at no additional cost to you.
Next, sign up for my mini course - 8 Steps to Naturally Increase Progesterone - where I guide you through the steps I took to find balance. It includes a bonus video training and science backed food, fitness, supplements and herbs to naturally increase progesterone!