Problems with Progesterone Production?

problems with progesterone production

What do hair loss, crappy sleep and PMS all have in common? No, not you – although right now, you reckon it’s not a far off description… They’re actually all indicative of a possible progesterone deficiency.

Progesterone, the calming hormone – kinda like the (Archbishop) Desmond Tutu of the hormones. It’s all about promoting smiles, serenity and sleep.

It has a pretty dope status because not only is it glorious for hair and skin but it also boosts your thyroid (& metabolism) and has anti-inflammatory & anti-ageing properties too.

So if you’re not making enough of it, you (and everyone else) will most likely know about it.

But how do you make progesterone?

As Dr Lara Briden explains on her healthy hormone blog, once that egg gets its Queen on and breaks free (aka ovulation), the empty egg sac (or ovarian follicle) it was in then does something bloody marvellous: in just 24 hours, it transforms from practically nothing into a 2 – 5cm gland called the corpus luteum (CL). And this little guy is responsible for pumping out that progesterone. So no ovulation = no CL = no progesterone.

Now although it sounds pretty straightforward, it’s a blimmen energy-intense process – one that requires numerous nutrients including selenium, iodine, magnesium, zinc, vitamin D, B-vitamins, CoQ10 and cholesterol. (Yes… the CL is kinda high maintenance.)

Dr Briden also highlights that a healthy immune system is a pre-requisite for CL formation as well. So if we’re dealing with any chronic inflammation, chances are this’ll interfere with ovulation with the knock-on effect on the corpus luteum, and of course progesterone production. Insulin issues (such as insulin resistance) and thyroid disease may also make matters complicated when it comes to ovulation.

She also states that another thing to factor in are those follicles (the things that the corpus luteum is formed from). They take 100 days to mature, ready for ovulation. But they need a healthy environment throughout this time. So any blips in ovulation, and possible progesterone deficiency, may actually tell a tale of issues going on three months earlier.

Once progesterone is made then it’s all smooth sailing from there on out then?

Not so fast. You see progesterone is part of the steroid hormone gang (a group of hormones derived from cholesterol) and it’s also the precursor to cortisol – a stress hormone that’s part of that same cholesterol-derived crowd. But when we’re dealing with chronic stress, then the adrenal glands pinch progesterone to produce cortisol.

So then what’s considered enough progesterone?

Well, we need to take timing into consideration: these sex hormones all rise and fall throughout the cycle. So once ovulation has happened, progesterone will start to peak, with its highest being about a week prior to the flow (aka your period). Here, we’re looking out for figures between 25 – 30nmol/L but the higher, the better baby!

What’s a babe to do to better progesterone production then?

Say a sweet farewell to stress

Mediation is so helpful here and I hands down recommend Headspace. But also have some fun in your day and your life – go for walks, meet with friends, swim in the sea, watch the sunrise, get yourself to the theatre if that’s your thing, grow some plants, build a fort, light some candles & take long baths (especially with epsom salts), be a kid whilst playing with the kids. Just figure out simple things that make your heart come alive and do them. We’ve literally got here and now – and the sooner we realise that, the less stress will grip our existence.

Take a step back from the toxins.

Here we talking about doing away with those pesky pesticides, plastics and certain household products.

Eat well!

An intake of a wide variety of single-ingredient foods is a fab place to start: plenty of fresh, locally-grown veg & some fruit, which’ll bring in those vitamins and minerals, as well as including all macronutrients so that’s the fats, proteins & carbohydrates.

Be done with inflammation.

Digestive issues & insulin resistance usually have an underlying element of inflammation that needs addressing (which yes, can be impacting on Period Health). From a dietary perspective – get in that wild caught oily fish, turmeric milk & those bone broths. Depending on what’s going on with the inflammation, certain supplements can be really helpful here too.

Give yourself (and your bod) some taaaime.

Don’t do this for two weeks and decide it’s not working. We’re talking at least 3 months. (Remember as Dr Briden explains – those follicles take 100 days to get to maturation.)

And hola!

If you’ve tried it all but reckon you still have problems with progesterone, or period health, my door’s open – let’s chat.

pcos nutritionist lara rickard
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