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 8/16/21
Read on to learn more about the hormone that rises after ovulation.
We have many hormones that control our cycle. While it can get a little complicated, the better we understand our hormones, the better we can understand ourselves and our cycles!
The hormone which spikes right before ovulation to trigger the follicle to release an egg is more well known — luteinizing hormone is what traditional ovulation tests measure to help you find your fertile window. But how much do you know about the hormone which rises after ovulation? Let’s dive in!
Which hormone rises after ovulation?
No more beating around the bush: we’re talking about progesterone! After ovulation occurs, the empty follicle from which the egg was released is called the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum is the structure which produces progesterone during the second half of your cycle (the luteal phase).
Even though progesterone doesn’t get as much of the limelight, it’s actually very critical to conception and your overall cycle health. After ovulation, progesterone needs to rise to an adequate amount then remain adequately elevated for several days during your luteal phase.
Why? Because progesterone is the hormone responsible for supporting implantation. It ensures your uterine lining is “sticky” enough to allow an embryo to comfortably implant itself in your uterus. Basically, progesterone makes your uterine lining receptive to an embryo.
The time in which progesterone needs to be elevated in order to allow your uterus to be receptive is called the implantation window. The implantation window lasts roughly from day 7 to day 10 after peak fertility.
Sufficient progesterone production during this time is essential for allowing for a long enough implantation window because the newly fertilized embryo needs enough time to travel through the fallopian tubes and down into the uterus.
If your body does not produce enough progesterone for long enough after ovulation, your luteal phase and implantation window will be short. This means that the embryo may not have enough time to implant or the uterine lining won’t be receptive enough.
Additionally, this can cause your luteal phase to be shorter than the healthy length of 11 days. A shorter-than-normal luteal phase is referred to as a luteal phase defect which, according to Resolve, is associated with infertility and early miscarriage.
So needless to say that the hormone elevated after ovulation — our good friend progesterone — is pretty important!
If your body does not produce enough progesterone for long enough after ovulation, your luteal phase and implantation window will be short.
How do I test my progesterone levels?
We’re so glad you asked! Until recently, progesterone testing had been done exclusively via blood tests that needed to be ordered by your doctor.
But while a serum progesterone blood test can confirm whether or not you’ve ovulated, we’ve found that it falls short of assessing your luteal phase health for two reasons.
- Serum progesterone blood tests are only taken on a single day (typically cycle day 21). But, as we learned above, progesterone levels need to remain elevated throughout the whole implantation window to allow for the best possible chance at conception. It’s entirely possible to have great progesterone levels at the beginning of your implantation window, then have them drop at the end. Unless you were tested multiple times (which doesn’t typically happen), you would never know this critical information.
Studies have shown that serum progesterone levels fluctuate drastically — up to 8-fold in just a single 90-minute period! That means that testing levels at 8 am could give you very different results than if you were to test at 2 pm. The danger of this is that your serum test could make you think your levels are good, when you actually just caught them at a higher point in the day.
Due to these concerns, many doctors consider a single progesterone blood test to be non-diagnostic, meaning they can’t really say whether your levels are healthy or not based on a single blood draw.
So, is there a better way to measure progesterone?
While there’s not a better way to directly measure serum progesterone, you can measure something else to assess your luteal phase health: PdG! Pregnanediol Glucuronide (or PdG for short) is a urine marker of progesterone and is only present in urine when progesterone is also present in blood.
What happens is that after progesterone circulates through your bloodstream, it gets metabolized by your liver and is released from your body in urine as PdG. Since PdG is metabolized overnight, studies show that PdG levels in first morning urine correlate with the average of all your serum progesterone levels from the previous day. This means that PdG isn’t subject to the same fluctuations as progesterone and PdG can give you a much more accurate picture of your post-ovulation levels.
Even better, PdG is measured in urine which is non-invasive compared to a blood test. And we don’t know about you, but the less needles we come across, the better!
Studies also show that elevated PdG levels during the luteal phase increases the chances of successful pregnancy from just 19% all the way to 92%. Just like progesterone, PdG is a critical piece of the pregnancy puzzle.
Proov Confirm is the first and only FDA cleared PdG test kit to confirm successful ovulation at home.
With Proov Confirm, the first and only FDA cleared PdG test kit to confirm successful ovulation at home, you can ensure your post-ovulation levels are good to go. Successful ovulation refers to an ovulatory event in which an egg is released and PdG levels remain adequately elevated for long enough during the implantation window to allow for the best possible chance at conception.
We like to see 3-4 positive PdG tests during our patented 7-10 days past peak fertility testing window (with a positive on day 10 past peak) to confirm that successful ovulation did in fact occur. Anything less than 3 positives or not getting a positive on day 10 may be an indication of weak ovulation (low PdG levels) which could impact your chances of conception.
In that case, your PdG levels may need a little boost. Often natural remedies are a good place to start, although we always recommend consulting your doctor as well.
Understanding which hormone should be elevated after ovulation can help you better understand your chances at pregnancy and help you reach your fertility goals faster!