Functions of Progesterone
Progesterone has several other important functions within the body including:
- Regulates the thyroid gland and moderates the negative effects of estrogen dominance on the functioning of the thyroid, thereby preventing symptoms of hypothyroidism
- Helps with immunity
- Reduces swelling and inflammation
- Keeps blood clotting levels stable
- Stimulates collagen production which increases skin elasticity
- Keeps bones and skeletal muscles strong
- Helps to maintain nerve functioning and protect against deterioration
Causes of Low Progesterone
Menopause: During Menopause the body undergoes numerous changes including a decrease in hormone levels including progesterone. Lower levels of both progesterone and estrogen are responsible for many of the symptoms of menopause such as what appears to be weight gain caused to water retention.
Smoking: Cigarette smoking is believed to shut down progesterone receptors in the body. Smoking has also been shown to trigger premature menopause and increase infertility in younger women.
Side effects of Progesterone
Side Effects of Progesterone During Pregnancy
- Shortness of Breath (i.e. "In the first few weeks of pregnancy, a normal increase in the hormone progesterone cause a shortness of breath.")
- Acid Reflux and Heartburn
- Lower Back Pain
Side Effects of Artificial Progesterone
- High Blood Pressure (i.e. "Artificial progesterone can lead to high blood pressure, blood clots, and even heart attacks.")
- Facial Rashes
Foods to Raise Progesterone Levels
Turmeric, found in curry, is known to help increase the body's progesterone levels. Other herbs such as thyme and oregano are thought to have the same properties. Adding one of these ingredients in each meal may help to maintain hormonal balance.
Foods rich in vitamin B-6 including walnuts, whole grains, fortified cereals, and soy milk can also help maintain estrogen-progesterone balance. Also, try to only eat hormone-free meats, poultry and dairy which can disrupt hormonal balance.
Natural Remedies for Increasing Progesterone
More and more women are opting for a more natural approach to increase progesterone levels. Because synthetic progestins are not exact replicas of the body’s natural progesterone, they have a long list of unwanted side effects. Natural treatments such as herbal and homeopathic remedies, on the other hand, are a natural and effective alternative.
Herbs such as Vitex agnus-castus (Chasteberry) improve progesterone levels as well as promoting hormonal balance and health. A traditional Chinese herb, Cimicifuga racemosa (Black Cohosh), also has a beneficial effect on hormone functioning and may help to prevent miscarriage.
In addition, Eleutherococcus senticosis (Siberian Ginseng) promotes overall systemic functioning of the female reproductive system, acting as a tonic for female health and fertility. There are a number of plant based natural progesterone creams which can also be very useful in women with low progesterone levels.