Progesterone is an important hormone that both men and women produce. Women rely more on progesterone, especially to do things like protect an ongoing pregnancy and to keep menstrual cycles regular. When women do not have enough of this hormone they may experience low progesterone symptoms, which can be extremely varied and affect many systems in the body.
Low progesterone symptoms can manifest as directly related to menstrual cycle, fertility and reproductive issues. Some common symptoms include irregularity of the menstrual cycle, strong cramps during menstruation, higher incidence of PMS, and greater presence of blood clots during periods. When progesterone levels are very low, infertility may occur because ovulation is not occurring. Another affected aspect can be sex drive or libido, which may be reduced.
These low progesterone symptoms aren’t always dangerous. A female body's production of progesterone naturally decreases 10 to 12 days after ovulation occurs, unless a woman becomes pregnant. This decrease triggers the start of menstruation and can lead to some of the normal symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle, like cramping and PMS. When periods are irregular, however, it may suggest greater imbalance of progesterone levels or other important hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle.
It’s also valuable to understand that menopause causes reduction in progesterone and this may be responsible for certain menopausal symptoms like moods swings, hot flashes, decreased libido, and insomnia. Other low progesterone symptoms may affect women before and after menopause occurs. People may feel fatigue, have dry skin, experience insomnia, have depression, and be likely to put on weight.
Sometimes low progesterone symptoms can be more dangerous. Chronic depression or anxiety, for instance, could lead to risk to suicidal behavior. Low progesterone levels can create dysfunction of the thyroid gland, and most seriously, certain forms of cancer may be more likely, including uterine cancer.
Another possible set of symptoms associated with low progesterone are those affecting memory. People may experience memory loss or lack of mental acuity when levels of this hormone are well below normal. These symptoms may be directly related to lower thyroid hormone. If low progesterone causes hypothyroidism, this in turn can result in difficulty with memory and concentration. Alternately, both hormones aid in mental acuity and lack of both makes decline in mental sharpness more severe.
If you think you have low progesterone levels, you should see your doctor. Many women have a few of these symptoms but never check because their low progesterone symptoms are not too bothersome. Occasionally, slightly reduced levels of progesterone create small concern, but some women find help if they take additional progesterone hormone. There are some over the counter natural progesterone creams you can purchase, but if you really feel your body needs supplementation with this hormone, you should consult a doctor first.