Symptoms of Low Progesterone
Progesterone is vital to pregnancy and a deficiency in progesterone can decrease fertility, prevent ovulation, and cause early miscarriage. A deficiency in progesterone can also unbalance the body's hormones, and cause dominance of estrogen, which can lead to PMS and other bothersome symptoms.
The Function of Progesterone
Progesterone is secreted by the corpus luteum when the egg is ovulated from it. The secreted progesterone prepares the uterus lining for implantation of the egg after fertilization by stimulating the thickening the endometrium, or lining of the uterus, with a rich blood supply. It also stimulates glands in the endometrium which nourish and lubricate the sperm and egg until fertilization is complete. Ten days after ovulation, if pregnancy does not occur, the level of progesterone drops. This causes the menstrual period to begin and the unfertilized egg to be expelled.
Low Progesterone and Menopause
In the course of menopause, the reproductive system is deteriorating with age. The ability of the ovaries to function normally progressively decreases. This includes ovulation and the production of progesterone by the corpus luteum. During menopause, the levels of both estrogen and progesterone fluctuate wildly as they diminish, causing symptoms of both excessive and deficient estrogen and excessive and deficient progesterone. The progesterone production seems to diminish faster, making low progesterone and high estrogen the more common problem.
Symptoms of Progesterone Deficiency
Besides infertility and early miscarriage, progesterone deficiency can also cause other symptoms. These include hot flashes, night sweats, breast tenderness, menstrual cramps, irregular periods, bloating and puffiness, water retention, carbohydrate cravings, and lowered body temperature. It can also cause ovarian cysts. Other seemingly unrelated conditions can result from progesterone deficiency, and these are obesity, low thyroid causing a drop in temperature in the hands and feet, heart palpitations, facial hair and incontinence. Some of the emotional symptoms of low progesterone are memory lapses, foggy thinking, depression and tearfulness. Perhaps the most destructive of all of the symptoms of progesterone deficiency is bone loss, or osteoporosis.
High Estrogen Levels
A drop in progesterone levels that occurs in menopause causes a hormonal imbalance that causes high estrogen levels and estrogen dominance. As early as 35 years old, women are showing signs of progesterone deficiency and the hormonal imbalance which causes estrogen dominance. One of the chief symptoms of estrogen dominance is PMS, or premenstrual syndrome. Many of the symptoms of high estrogen levels are shared by or confused with symptoms of low progesterone, hormonal imbalance, and menopause, as all of these conditions are related and usually occur together at the same time. Some symptoms that appear to be specifically due to high estrogen are uterine fibroids headaches, and fatigue, whereas facial hair, obesity and bone loss are more attributable to low progesterone.