THE IMPORTANCE OF PROGESTERONE
The menstrual cycle can be divided into two phases; the follicular phase and the luteal phase – the first day of the follicular phase is day one of the menstrual bleed and the end of this phase and the beginning of the luteal phase is marked by ovulation, which occurs over one day in between the two.
Progesterone is an essential hormone in the process of reproduction. It is involved in the menstrual cycle, implantation and is essential for pregnancy maintenance. Progesterone is also our soothing and anti-inflammatory hormone, it helps with reducing anxiety, supports the thyroid, allows lighter periods, is anti-aging, assists with sleep and supports healthy hair and skin.
The only way to make progesterone is to ovulate – just after ovulation, one of your ovaries releases a surge of progesterone with the help of a little gland called the corpus luteum. You can have menstrual cycles where you don’t ovulate and therefore you don’t make progesterone – this is called an anovulatory cycle and this can cause PMS, heavy bleeding, premenstrual spotting or a longer period bleed – remember, just because you have your period, doesn’t necessarily mean you ovulated.
In order to make progesterone, you need to be healthy in every way. Underlying causes as to why you’re not ovulating and not making progesterone can be issues relating to the stress, PCOS, coming off the oral contraceptive, thyroid disorders, insulin resistance, nutrient deficiencies and chronic inflammation. You also need to ensure that you’re eating enough – this is where low carb diets can impact women and ovulation.
An easy and inexpensive way to see if you’re ovulating each month is to track your basal body temperature – a lack in temperature rise in your luteal phase (second half of your menstrual cycle) can be a clear indicator that you did not ovulate! Also, if you’re taking the oral contraceptive, then you definitely did not ovulate and therefore did not make any beneficial progesterone.
Are you someone who needs help with understanding your menstrual cycle? Feel free to contact me in order to set up an appointment where I can educate and support you on your journey towards better health! Visit my website here Written by Jacqueline Lovett (BHSc Naturopathy)
**This post is for educational purposes only. Always check in with your health practitioner before making any changes to your diet, or introduce any new supplements or herbal remedies. This is especially important if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have any other health conditions**