Progesterone Levels During Perimenopause

Written by: Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm successful ovulation at home.

Written on: 12/28/21

progesterone levels during perimenopause

Progesterone is important for anyone with a cycle!

If you’ve been around Proov for a while, you’ve probably heard us talk about the importance of progesterone when trying to conceive. After all, progesterone is necessary for a successful pregnancy!

However, we also recognize not all of us are currently trying for a baby. Maybe you’re taking a break, are done trying for kids, or maybe kids aren’t in your cards at all. Regardless, progesterone is still important for anyone with a cycle! Keep reading to learn more about progesterone levels during perimenopause.

What is progesterone and why is it important?

Progesterone is one of  the two main female reproductive hormones and, together with estrogen, it helps regulate your cycle.

During the first half of your cycle, the follicular phase, progesterone is low and estrogen is the star. After ovulation occurs, the empty follicle from which the egg was released forms a structure called the corpus luteum.

The corpus luteum produces progesterone during the luteal phase, the second half of your cycle. Progesterone needs to remain elevated to a high enough level during the implantation window to allow for the best possible chance at implantation and pregnancy.

But, as we know, progesterone does not only play a role in reproduction and pregnancy. As any other hormone, we need the right amount of progesterone at the right time during our cycle (i.e. the luteal phase) to maintain a healthy hormonal balance.

As we mentioned, progesterone helps regulate your cycle. A drop in progesterone at the end of your cycle signals to your body that it’s time for your period to begin. Healthy progesterone production supports a healthy luteal phase and cycle.

Even if you’re not TTC, insufficient progesterone production during the luteal phase can impact your cycles and quality of life. With low progesterone levels, you may experience irregular periods, spotting before your period, or your period might arrive earlier than expected each month. You may also have symptoms of PMS or mood swings.

Additionally, progesterone plays roles in cognitive function (i.e. brain function), bone health, and protection against breast cancer.

progesterone levels during perimenopause

Even if you’re not TTC, insufficient progesterone production during the luteal phase can impact your cycles and quality of life.

What is perimenopause?

Perimenopause is a transitional period occuring before we reach menopause, as our egg supply slowly decreases. It’s characterized by hormonal changes and cycle irregularities, but is a completely normal process as we age.

Typically, perimenopause occurs in your early to mid 40s, although some of us may begin experiencing perimenopausal changes as early as our late 30s. It lasts a different amount of time from person to person and can stretch anywhere from 2 to 10 years.

As the amount of eggs left in our ovaries (our ovarian reserve) starts to decrease, it becomes more difficult for our ovaries to function properly. Since our ovaries are responsible for producing the hormones which regulate our cycle, suboptimal ovarian function can lead to suboptimal hormone production.

Because of this, our hormones — including progesterone — can be all over the place during perimenopause. This can cause many of the unwanted symptoms we usually hear about, such as:

  • Irregular periods caused by occasional anovulatory cycles (a cycle in which ovulation does not occur).
  • Hot flashes, caused by elevated FSH spikes, as the ovary struggles to produce an egg each cycle.
  • Vaginal elasticity and lack of cervical mucus, caused by lower estrogen levels. They may make intercourse painful and also increase the risk of vaginal infections.
  • Lack of libido, another side effect of low estrogen.
  • Subfertility caused by unpredictable ovulation, diminished ovarian reserve, and lower egg quality due to age.
  • Mood swings caused by overall hormonal imbalance.

Perimenopause ends when menopause starts. Menopause is declared once you have gone 12 full months without a period, on top of the aforementioned symptoms. You can also get a hormone test to confirm menopause.

What happens to progesterone levels during perimenopause?

We already know that progesterone production is triggered by ovulation. Without the release of an egg, there is no corpus luteum to produce progesterone, meaning there will be no progesterone production.

But even when you ovulate during perimenopause,  your ovary may not be strong enough to support the formation of the corpus luteum or adequate progesterone production. As we get older, our progesterone levels decrease as well.

If you are above the age of 35 and experience irregular cycles, short luteal phases, or other symptoms, it might be a good idea to get your progesterone levels tested (more on this later!). It is common to have a progesterone deficiency during perimenopause.

However, it’s important to note that even though you may experience irregular periods and hormone imbalance you can still absolutely conceive as long as you are ovulating. Many women have surprise pregnancies in the years preceding menopause, especially since cycle tracking becomes more difficult. In fact, we have heard of Proovers getting pregnant during perimenopause!

If you aren’t trying to conceive, your doctor may recommend birth control until you reach a declared menopause state, meaning you’re no longer ovulating.

progesterone levels during perimenopause

If you aren’t trying to conceive, your doctor may recommend birth control until you reach a declared menopause state, meaning you’re no longer ovulating.

How can I track my progesterone levels during perimenopause?

For non-invasive and inexpensive hormone tracking during the luteal phase, we recommend measuring PdG — progesterone marker — levels in urine with an at-home test like Proov Confirm. Proov Confirm is the first and only FDA cleared PdG test to confirm ovulation and ovulation quality at home.

With Proov, you can understand if you are in fact ovulating during your perimenopausal transition and if your PdG levels are remaining elevated for long enough during your luteal phase to allow for a healthy cycle.

With the data Proov Confirm and the Proov Insight app provide, you can work with your healthcare provider to explore ways to balance your hormones. After all, balanced hormones lead to a balanced life!

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“Hormone balance plays a huge role in fertility, and understanding what’s going on with your hormones doesn’t have to be such a mystery.

It’s actually way easier than most people realize.” 

— Amy Beckley, Proov Founder