If you have been following our blog posts, you’ve probably noticed we love progesterone. It’s no wonder we love progesterone though, since it is the hormone that confirms ovulation and is needed for conception!
What causes a low progesterone?
Low progesterone can be caused by many things, including stress, age, menopause, pollution, diet, and excessive exercise. Each of these causes can lead to a hormone imbalance, meaning the amount of progesterone your body produces is unequal to the amount of estrogen being produced.
But what should you do if you fear your progesterone is low? To start, you can try one of these five natural tactics for increasing progesterone.
A simple way to increase progesterone levels is through your diet. While food doesn’t contain progesterone itself, some foods can promote progesterone production, including:
You can also try eating food with vitamin B-6 and zinc. Vitamin B-6 has a role in keeping hormones balanced and regulated, while zinc helps your ovaries create more progesterone and estrogen.
One of the most common herbs used to treat low progesterone is chaste tree berry, or vitex angus-castus. Vitex stimulates the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) from the brain, which stimulates the ovaries to produce progesterone.
Red raspberry leaf has also proved effective for regulating progesterone to support hormone balance. It is most commonly consumed as tea and can be found in many fertility teas.
Maca is a “hormonal adaptogen,” meaning it will adapt to your bodies needs and help to naturally produce your hormones. Studies have shown that women who take a maca supplement will experience a progesterone increase over time.
Stress triggers the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. If you are super stressed and your body needs more cortisol, the adrenal gland will steal other, less vital hormones to make more cortisol. Since progesterone is not a hormone needed to survive, it is one of the first to be converted into cortisol.
Reducing stress is easier said than done, right? Start by taking a little time out of your day to do something for yourself, such as doing yoga, going for a walk, or reading. Activities such as these help quite the cognitive part of the mind, which can slow the overproduction of stress hormones.
Normal, moderate exercise is good for overall health and won’t hurt progesterone levels. When we’re talking about overexercising, we mean a lot of intense and strenuous exercise--think competitive CrossFit and marathoners.
Excessive exercise can cause increased cortisol levels in the body and, as we learned in the previous section, your adrenal gland can’t produce enough cortisol on its own. It will “steal” progesterone from your reproductive system to make the amount of cortisol it needs to support strenuous exercise.
Abnormally low or abnormally high fat levels can affect the production of progesterone and your overall hormone balance.
Low fat levels can cause your body to think you are in famine. So, instead of giving nutrients to the reproductive system to make your hormones, it instead uses those nutrients for survival.
On the other hand, high fat levels can cause a hormone imbalance. Fat cells produce estrogen, meaning that the more fat cells there are in the body, the more estrogen you will produce. While this doesn’t directly affect progesterone production, it does cause for a hormone imbalance since estrogen levels will increase and progesterone production just can’t keep up.
If you want to better understand your progesterone levels and your body, you can use Proov, the first in-home urine progesterone test that gives you results in five minutes. Even better, you can test progesterone seven times with just one pack vs. a one time blood test at the doctor’s office. If your Proov tests indicate that you have low progesterone, some of the above tips may help balance it. But if you suspect you have a significant deficiency and it’s keeping you from conceiving, you can take the information provided by Proov tests to your doctor, who can prescribe a progesterone supplement. And if your progesterone levels are fine, you are still one step closer to knowing your body and uncovering what might be preventing conception.