Before I tried to get pregnant, I didn’t have a clue as to what progesterone was. I didn’t realize how vital it was for fertility, how the levels naturally dip as I get older, and that I could potentially increase it naturally through diet & lifestyle without having to take a prescription.
According to WebMD, Progesterone is a female hormone produced by the ovaries during release of a mature egg from an ovary (ovulation). This is why they tested me on the 21st day of my cycle to see if I had ovulated properly. Progesterone also helps prepare the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to receive the egg if it becomes fertilized by a sperm. (link)
All verbiage aside, let’s just say it’s super important when you’re trying to get pregnant and more importantly when you are trying keep your pregnancy. It’s cushion to the implanted egg’s fall into the wonderful world in the uterus. If it’s too low, the embryo won’t have a comfortable place to grow.
When I went in for my exam the 2nd time I became pregnant (after my first miscarriage), they tested my hCG along with my progesterone levels and both were at a decline and then followed a miscarriage. My doctor said it’s like, “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” Either I had low progesterone to begin with and I couldn’t hold my pregnancy, or my miscarriage caused my progesterone to dip.
After doing IVF, I became educated on how important progesterone really is. In fact, every single visit to the fertility doctor involved a blood test, one of which would show my progesterone level. They would increase my dose synthetically with meds if it started to dip all the way until I was 11 weeks pregnant when the placenta starts to kick in.
But a couple problems with synthetic progesterone is that there aren’t enough studies on the long term effects of these replica hormones and the meds can be costly. I was charged once $800 for each refill of progesterone (Crinone), which my insurance did not cover. But recently, I was prescribed suppositories for $5 a refill (Prometrium). Brands truly matter, it’s crazy.
There are several blogs with tips on how to increase progesterone naturally and you can drive yourself crazy with all the details so I’ll put it simply.
- Start eating more foods with B6.
- Nuts, whole grains, red meat, seafood, eggs, chicken, bananas, dark leafy veggies like spinach or kale, potatoes, beans, pumpkin, watermelon, milk, and fortified cereals.
- Exercise to reduce fat which can store estrogen.
- Body fat produces excess estrogen which can create a hormonal imbalance
- Take at least 750mg of Vitamins C every day for 6 months before TTC.
- Studies have shown dramatic increases of progesterone (link) with the help of Vitamin C.
- Try to eliminate as much stress as possible.
- Cortisol, the stress hormone, stops progesterone from working properly
So was this the reason for my miscarriages in the past? Who really knows… but I know it’s definitely something I’ve had to keep an eye on and that it can be pretty mendable if I pay attention to what I put in my body. Currently, I am taking suppositories to help boost my progesterone because I didn’t prepare myself months in advance leading to where I am right now. So I’m glad the synthetic version is there for support. It’s really worth doing some research before forking over the cash, but also it doesn’t hurt to try to naturally increase progesterone when you know you’re trying to conceive.