7 Signs You May Have Low Progesterone
If you are suffering from fatigue, irregular periods, skin trouble, or weight gain, your progesterone (or lack thereof!) may be to blame. While these symptoms can be triggered by other causes like low iron, hypothyroidism, low vitamin D, cortisol imbalance, just to name a few, progesterone might certainly be to blame.
There are many reasons why I am seeing more progesterone deficiencies in my naturopathic medical practice than every before. Here are just a few:
We are exposed to more xenoestrogens (chemicals that mimic estrogen) in our environment and in our foods than we have ever have in the past. These xenoestrogens cause your body to perceive higher estrogen levels in our systems and the relative progesterone levels pale in comparison. We are exposed to xenoestrogens in plastics, synthetic hormones, and animal products.
You. Are. Stressed.
Stress is a major cause of progesterone deficiency for many of us. Chemically speaking, when cortisol, our stress hormone, spikes, it blocks progesterone receptors and limits the activity of progesterone. So we feel stressed out, tired, and our progesterone levels suffer. This is one of the many reasons why it is so crucial for a women to reduce stress when planning for a pregnancy.
Exercise: Find the Balance
Excess exercise can actually dampen our progesterone levels. For most of us, this isn’t a problem, but more and more I am seeing women (and men) who are working out extremely hard, competing at high levels, even just for recreation, and their hormonal systems get out of whack as a result. For optimal hormone function and progesterone balance, moderate exercise is the key. Not too much, not too little, just enough. About four to fives times weekly at 30-60 minutes is great.
So how do you know if your progesterone is low?
Read on to see if you recognize any of these symptoms. While this list isn’t exhaustive, it’s certainly a starting point for a discussion between you and your primary care physician (ND or MD).
Here are the top 7 symptoms of progesterone deficiency:
1. Menstrual irregularities – long cycles, irregular cycles, short luteal phase (if the time from ovulation to your period is less than 10 days), a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome, menstrual cramping, spotting mid cycle or before your full period flow begins.
2. Infertility – progesterone is one of the primary hormones involved in achieving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy. It prepares the lining of the uterus for an embryo to implant. If you are having difficulty conceiving or have suffered from a miscarriage, it is worth having your progesterone levels checked as they may be low. Since fertility concerns can cause so much heartache, save yourself some trouble and just get checked.
3. Acne, brittle nails, dry cracked skin – If you are suffering from adult onset acne, if your nails are cracking, splitting, peeling, or the skin of your heels and hands are cracking, you might be low in progesterone.
4. Depression, anxiety, mood swings – as we age, many women attribute a shift in estrogen for their mood symptoms. But actually after age 30, most of us experience a drop in progesterone and one of the first signs of this lowered level is a shift in mood. Progesterone is responsible for stabilizing our mood so if you are experiencing uncomfortable shift in mood lately, please check your levels.
5. Low libido, fatigue, foggy thinking – most often women come in to our clinic complaining of these symptoms post-partum but many women in their 30s and 40s, regardless of their child-bearing status, will start to experience an energy, sex drive, and mental shift with a drop in progesterone. Less than keen on sex? Feel like having an afternoon nap? Can’t remember names or words as well as you once did? Please ask your doctor to test your progesterone in your next check-up.
6. Slow metabolism, weight gain around the midsection, sugar cravings – with the rise in diabetes all over North America, most people blame sugar and insulin for their metabolic dysfunctions. But as we age and progesterone drops, it sure can slow down our ability to burn fat.
7. Migraines, headaches, also joint pain and allergy symptoms – pain and allergy syndromes seem least likely to be caused by hormones but time and time again, I see hormones at the root of these frustrating conditions. I recommend considering food allergies, overall inflammation, and checking in on your female hormone balance if you suffer from any of these conditions.
I want to hear from you – are you dealing with any of the above symptoms? Have you had your progesterone levels checked.
There is so much relief that can come from seeing your ND for proper diagnosis and treatment of hormone imbalances and we can always learn from each other. Please share your experience in the reply area below.