Health

How to increase progesterone levels and why is it important

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Progesterone plays several roles in a woman’s body. If it is off track, it can lead to several complications as well. To balance it, follow these tips.

Is your menstrual cycle out of whack? Do you wake up with a headache more often? Do you also feel cranky, angry, or maybe sad more often than usual? If so, your progesterone level could be the culprit behind these issues.

What is progesterone?

Progesterone is a female sex hormone. It is produced mainly in the ovaries following ovulation each month. It is a crucial part of the menstrual cycle and maintenance of pregnancy. But progesterone isn’t just a female sex hormone—it’s so much more! It’s vital to your health and a game changer in your menopause journey.

Progesterone Period mood swings may be because of low progesterone! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

You might wonder if apart from making pregnancy possible, is progesterone a big deal in our body? Absolutely! It performs other tasks on a daily basis, including:

  • Maintaining our menstrual cycles for regular monthly periods.
  • Keeping our reproductive organs healthy to better fight infections.
  • Firing up our metabolism to produce energy and prevent weight gain.
  • Strengthening our bones and preventing osteoporosis.
  • Regulating blood sugar levels to reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • Boosting our libido to prepare the body for intimacy
  • Stimulating the release of our happy hormones for a better mood.

Now we know that it’s a very important hormone for women’s health and well-being. At times it goes off track and has a detrimental impact on the body. That’s why it is important to be alert and watch out for some signs that indicate your progesterone levels are not in place!

What happens when levels of progesterone drop?

Dr Uma Vaidyanathan, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi, says, “Progesterone is needed to maintain normal balance during menses. It is secreted in the second half of the menstrual cycle. Low levels can interfere with menses, and the capacity to conceive.”

Look out for these signs of low progesterone:

  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Irregular or missed periods
  • Spotting and abdominal pain during pregnancy
  • Recurrent early miscarriage
  • Mood changes
  • Sleep disruption
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Headache or migraine

Since estrogen and progesterone work together to regulate fertility and the menstrual cycle, low progesterone levels may cause estrogen levels to rise. Someone with high estrogen may experience; high risks of gallstones, weight gain, fatigue, and sex drive related issues

Here’s how to fix low progesterone?

Dr Vaidyanathan suggests some ways to increase the low level of progesterone:

1. Maintaining ideal body weight

Maintaining an ideal body weight will keep your estrogen in check and will help in the estrogen-progesterone imbalance which triggers menstrual issues.

Progesterone Lose weight ASAP if you’re overweight! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Avoid excessive exercising and over dieting

Body needs a basic amount of fat tissue to keep its functions going. Too much weight loss again can trigger an increase in cortisol levels(to facilitate fighting the stress on the body) which will lead to low progesterone.

3. Decrease stressors in lifestyle

Chronic stress disturbs your hormones which may throw off your progesterone levels. To maintain its level and to keep your stress at bay, adopt meditation in your daily routine.

4. Follow a healthy diet

There are certain vitamins and minerals that are necessary for progesterone production.

  • Healthy fat: Consume healthy fat containing foods like fish, coconut oil to maintain a good balance of cholesterol which helps in progesterone production.
  • Zinc: Zinc is known to stimulate pituitary functions which helps in ovulation. Zinc rich foods like lean meat can be consumed. Also magnesium-rich foods like spinach, nuts, cereals help in the same.
  • Vitamins: Vitamin C and Vitamin E supplements too are helpful in select cases. Diet rich in fruits, nuts, fresh green leafy vegetables r advisable.
  • Avoid these foods: Avoid soya proteins, too much legumes, herbal supplements like black cohosh, liquorice which are rich in estrogen. This may trigger imbalance in susceptible women.
  • Improve fibre intake: to keep your progesterone level on track, focus on adequate fibre intake.

5. Regulate blood sugar

Blood sugar dysregulation creates hormonal chaos by disrupting ovarian follicle development and progesterone production. Keeping your blood sugar levels stable and your cells sensitive to insulin is an important part of maintaining hormonal balance.

So, whenever you find yourself out of track, follow these tips!

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