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Taking Control of Low Progesterone: Strategies for Menopause Management

Low progesterone is often one of the primary culprits for producing the first set of symptoms that you may experience during perimenopause.

 

This is because the ovaries do not always ovulate, and you can't make progesterone without ovulation. So you end up as shown below, with your progesterone levels dropping.


hormone balance

Diagram from J.C. Prior "Perimenopause lost- reframing the end of menstruation"


Low progesterone can present with a variety of symptoms:

 

Spotting Mood swings

Heavy periods Depression

Irregular periods Anxiety

Low libido Weight Gain

Hot flashes PMS

Migraines Infertility

Acne Insomnia

 

Hormonal Balance and Symptoms

 

Although there are 'ideal' ranges published, getting fixated on specific values is not helpful. In most cases, addressing low progesterone involves restoring balance to various body systems rather than focusing on a single hormone.

 

Menopausal women may experience low progesterone symptoms because of:

- Low progesterone with low oestrogen

- Low progesterone with normal oestrogen

- Low progesterone with high oestrogen

 

Each pattern can lead to different symptoms and requires a distinct approach to management.

 

Causes of Low Progesterone


Other than anovulation, there are other causes for the appearance of low progesterone symptoms.


1. Stress

When your body is experiencing chronic stress, it will prioritise making cortisol over progesterone, potentially reducing progesterone production.

 

Cortisol can also block progesterone receptors, so the stuff you do have is less able to work.

 

2. Blood Sugar Balance

Blood sugar balance is critical when looking to restore hormone health. A roller coaster ride of blood sugar levels will affect hormones such as insulin and cortisol – vital for supporting your levels of oestrogen and progesterone.

 

3. Gut Health Issues

A healthy gut flora facilitates the proper breakdown and elimination of hormones, preventing imbalances.


Conversely, dysbiosis, or an imbalance in these microbial populations, can lead to increased oestrogen reabsorption from the gut, contributing to imbalances such as oestrogen dominance.

Constipation will give the body more time to reabsorb oestrogen metabolites.

 

4. Weight gain

Adipose tissue, or body fat, has the enzyme aromatase, which converts androgens to oestrogens. This increased oestrogen production can upset the delicate balance between oestrogen and progesterone, often leading to a relative progesterone deficiency.

 

5. Hypothyroidism

Thyroid hormones are essential for the proper functioning of the ovaries. When thyroid function is low, ovulation may be disrupted, decreasing progesterone production.

 

Additionally, hypothyroidism can slow down metabolism, affecting how the body utilises and clears hormones, potentially exacerbating low progesterone levels. Plus, pregnenolone, a building block for progesterone, needs adequate thyroid hormone levels for its synthesis. So, low thyroid levels can result in low progesterone levels.


 

Strategies for Management

 

Addressing low progesterone involves a holistic approach focusing on diet, lifestyle, and overall health:

  • Diet:

 

Emphasise whole foods and anti-inflammatory ingredients. Include healthy fats, fibre, and nutrient-dense foods that support hormonal health, such as magnesium, vitamin B6, zinc, and vitamin C.

 

Healthy fats are the building blocks for progesterone production. Sometimes evening primrose oil or borage oil, which have higher gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), can also be beneficial.

 

Plenty of fibre from veggies, legumes, nuts, and seeds will help oestrogen detoxification.

 

  • Gut Health:

 

Manage any gut dysbiosis or sensitivities, as these can affect oestrogen metabolism. If you have any issues with digestion, constipation, or diarrhoea, these all need to be resolved to produce happy hormones.

 

  • Stress Reduction:

 

Implement relaxation techniques and establish a regular sleep routine to manage cortisol levels.


 

  • Supplements:

 

Consider supplements like Vitex Agnus Castus to support hormonal balance. This can increase luteinising hormone, stimulating progesterone production. The hard evidence behind this is limited, but many women find it beneficial.

 

Do not take it if you're under 18, you're on the pill, you're pregnant, your periods have stopped, and you are post-menopausal. If you have any queries about this, message me.

 

  • Environmental Factors:

Limit exposure to xenoestrogens from plastics and processed foods as they can affect hormone imbalance.

 

  • Lifestyle:

 

Moderate alcohol and caffeine intake to support hormonal balance.

 

  • Weight and Exercise:


Maintain a healthy weight and balanced exercise regimen to optimise hormone production.

 

Conclusion

 

Managing low progesterone is not about targeting a single hormone but instead supporting the body's systems to restore balance. This approach's key components are lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments, and stress management.

 

Remember, every woman's journey through menopause is unique. It's about listening to your body, understanding its messages, and creating a tailored approach that supports hormonal balance and overall well-being.

 

 

Please schedule a complimentary call with me to discuss your experiences. This conversation is an opportunity to explore your symptoms and the possible ways to manage them with absolutely no obligation. Remember, understanding and then addressing your symptoms is vital to finding relief and improving your daily life.


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