What Are the Causes of Low Progesterone?

Weight gain may cause low progesterone levels.
Taking certain medications may cause low progesterone levels.
Stress may cause low progesterone levels.
Low progesterone levels may be the result of inactivity.
In some cases, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is responsible for low progesterone levels.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 02 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Patients can experience low progesterone for a number of reasons, including natural physical changes, medications, and stress. An endocrinologist can order some tests to determine levels of estrogen and other hormones in the body. These tests can provide information about the causes for abnormalities and are also beneficial for monitoring response for treatment. Patients are usually concerned about low progesterone levels in connection with infertility.

Men typically have low levels of this hormone, and in women they are highest among those of reproductive age. The levels naturally fluctuate through the menstrual cycle, and when women get pregnant, they will start to rise to support the developing fetus. A doctor concerned about the causes of low progesterone levels can look for several possible culprits.

Abnormal estrogen levels are one of the causes of low progesterone levels. This hormone suppresses progesterone production and will keep levels down. It may be abnormally high because of medications, weight gain, or an underlying endocrine imbalance and could push progesterone down. Another potential cause is insulin resistance. Diabetes, associated with weight gain and insulin resistance, is another factor.

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Stress, diet, and inactivity can also be causes of low progesterone levels. Patients who are in a state of high stress, do not eat well, and exercise irregularly may experience abnormal hormone levels. In addition to progesterone, other hormones may get out of balance. Another potential cause is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition that brings about abnormal fluctuations in estrogen and other sex hormones. When other causes of low progesterone levels are ruled out and a patient is categorically not pregnant, aging is the most likely factor, as levels of this hormone can drop as women start to enter menopause. Usually other symptoms develop as well and can provide diagnostic clues for a doctor trying to get to the root of a patient's hormone imbalance.

In pregnancy, the causes of low progesterone levels can usually be traced back to the pregnancy itself. If levels of this hormone are lower than they should be, it may be a sign that the developing fetus is not viable. The body does not generate enough progesterone to support the fetus because it may be preparing for a spontaneous abortion of a fetus that is not developing properly. Pregnant women should not panic if screening shows low progesterone levels, but they are a cause for concern, and the doctor may need to perform some additional tests to find out more about the pregnancy.

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anon346459
Post 3

I have extremely low progesterone and have had it since puberty. I have been fired from jobs (dealing in customer service) because I would become irate and become a total witch when I'm on my period. I have severe insomnia (I sometimes go five days with three hours a night of sleep) and constipation (one bowel movement a week if I am lucky).

I know the minute my period starts and even the minute I start ovulating, because the pain becomes unbearable. I can't be on birth control because IUDs were worse than childbirth for me. I now have seizures every time I ovulate and menstruate. In the last three months, I have had six seizures, my heartbeat is horrifically irregular and my chest always hurts, I have a constant headache and I do mean constant for like, months at a time. I have breathing problems. Sometimes all I do is pass blood clots on my period, I have horrid neck pain and all over pains, and if I pick at my nails, the whole nail comes off. I have lost the hair on the sides of my head, I become dizzy up to 20 times a day and get night sweats. I get cysts almost constantly. I am tired all the time even when I just woke up. I have spotting, I get taser like shocks all over my body, and I can go on and on but those are the truly scary things that can happen with low progesterone.

My point is, if you have severely low progesterone, go to a doctor if you can and if you can't, eat healthy as possible and get some progesterone natural cream. You can, and more then likely will, have a stroke if you let it go too long. I just thought I wasn't woman enough to handle the changes when I was menstruating and never told anyone. Don't ever just think it's normal and not ask. I am trying to fix it myself (I have no insurance) but who knows if it will work or not? My period starts tomorrow so we will see.

myharley
Post 2

@bagley79 - I can definitely relate to what you are going through. When I was pregnant all I wanted to do was sleep. I think one reason is because your body has the highest amounts of progesterone when you are pregnant.

There is some kind of connection between progesterone and getting adequate amounts of sleep. If a woman has progesterone deficiency, it can affect a lot of other areas as well, and you can feel just plain miserable.

I had a blood test to help determine where some of my hormone levels were. I know some women have also had a saliva test done to give them some insight in to this as well.

Any kind of hormone imbalance can cause low progesterone. I am looking for some natural alternatives to keeping my hormones balanced.

Has anyone had good results using natural bioidentical hormone treatment?

bagley79
Post 1

How many other women have a hard time sleeping once they are in their 40's?

I never thought I would be one that would have a hard time getting a good night's sleep. Now, it is rare if I ever sleep through the night.

I know one of the symptoms of low progesterone is a hard time sleeping, so this must be a good indication that I am low on progesterone.

Since this hormone really starts decreasing in your body once you begin going through menopause, it all makes a lot of sense. I have also heard it described as having estrogen dominance symptoms.

This means there is too much estrogen in your body and not enough progesterone, and you need to somehow balance this out. I just know I would really love to be able to sleep through the night on a regular basis.

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