When society talks about women’s hormones, they are mainly referring to estrogen. But many women wonder about the role of progesterone in a woman’s life cycle. So let’s devote some time talking about this amazing hormone and what it does.
Progesterone is responsible for getting your uterus ready for pregnancy. When ovulation occurs and an egg is released from the ovary, progesterone tells the lining of the uterus to build up nutrients so it will be able to protect and nurture the egg when it attaches and starts to grow. If the egg does become fertilized, progesterone continues to be produced in the ovaries until about the 12th week of pregnancy when production is taken over by the placenta. If the egg is not fertilized and pregnancy will not take place, progesterone levels fall. As levels fall, the lining of the uterus is shed, and menstruation takes place. Next month, the cycle starts again.
If a woman’s body does not produce enough progesterone, she may have irregular periods or spotting in between cycles. Her body may not be able to support pregnancy, or she may have a miscarriage. If a woman is having trouble becoming pregnant, a simple progesterone test is oftentimes a first place doctors will start.
Higher amounts of progesterone are only needed in the body during childbearing years. If ovulation is no longer occurring, progesterone has no reason to get the body ready for pregnancy, so levels taper off and stay on the low side. Very small amounts of progesterone are needed in menopausal ladies who still have a uterus; oftentimes these ladies will choose Hormone Replacement Therapy with both estrogen and progesterone. Women who are in menopause due to hysterectomy will not need progesterone because they no longer have a uterus.