If you read our last blog, you’ll know that the ‘hormonal’ feeling you might experience a few days to weeks before your period (A.K.A PMS), is often just the result of an imbalance between your two key sex hormones; oestrogen and progesterone.
In this blog, we’re diving into the other side of the equation: Progesterone.
First things first, what is progesterone?
Progesterone is a lovely calming, soothing hormone that balances the effects of oestrogen and supports pregnancy (hence the name, ‘pro-gestation’).
A few other amazing benefits of progesterone include:
- Supporting sleep & relaxation of the nervous system;
- Keeping the uterine lining in place should a fertilised embryo need a cosy home to grow;
- Boosting the metabolism and helping you use fat for energy;
- Generally helping you feel calm and balanced throughout the second half of your cycle.
Think of progesterone like a natural, ever so gentle relaxant. Mmmmmm… yummy.
Which is why low levels of progesterone can show up as..
- Feelings of anxiety, overwhelm and panic, but without really being able to pinpoint why;
- Short cycles, long cycles or irregular cycles—your monthly catches you off guard more often than not.
- Spotting either side of your period;
- Feeling like you’ve temporarily gained ‘water weight’ before each period;
- A tendency towards sore or swollen breasts;
- Pre-period or mid-cycle breakouts;
- Trouble falling pregnant;
- Low sex drive;
- Trouble falling or staying asleep;
- Your family, flatmates or significant other tip-toe on eggshells the week before your period (as a result of all of the above).
We recently crunched the numbers and saw that 54% of female Eve Hormone Balance test results show lower than optimal progesterone levels.
In our humble opinion, it’s likely the most common hormone imbalance affecting women in the modern world we live in.
We know what you’re thinking—if progesterone is so great, how can you get more of it? That’s the thing about hormones: you have to make them yourself.
The only way to make optimal levels of progesterone is to ovulate, which isn’t always easy to do.
Ovulation is the main event of the menstrual cycle which involves the release of an egg from its follicle, where it travels down the fallopian tube in the hope of crossing paths with an ever so charming sperm.
Once the egg is released, the follicle it came from develops a tiny gland called the corpus luteum which is where your progesterone gets released from. All being well, progesterone then becomes the dominant hormone for the remaining 14 or so days of the cycle.
So, no ovulation = no corpus luteum = no progesterone. At least not in the amounts you want in order to see you through the second half of your cycle without no hiccups.
This is what’s called an anovulatory cycle, and it’s more common than you might think. It can be tricky to tell as you can still get a period each month even when ovulation hasn’t occurred.
Not ovulating can be a result of:
- Over-exercising or under-eating;
- Not being fully nourished with the nutrients your body needs for ovulation (B vitamins, zinc, selenium, vitamin D, iodine, selenium and CoQ10 all play a key role in ovulation and progesterone production);
- High levels of stress and inflammation;
- Higher levels of testosterone, as is the case in PCOS.
An Eve Hormone Balance Test report can tell you where your progesterone levels are at, along with your other sex hormones and their metabolites.
Testing your hormones means you can find out for sure what’s going on, and receive guidance on the best way...
Ways to naturally support your body with ovulation, thus producing juicy amounts of progesterone, include:
Take action to reduce stress
Both cortisol (a stress hormone) and progesterone are made from the same precursor hormone, pregnenolone. If the body is constantly in a stressed state, the production of stress hormones will be prioritised over sex hormones.
This means upping all things #selfcare and saying no to things that don’t serve you. For more ideas, check out our blogs 5 Ways to Quieten Your Busy Mind & 7 Ways To Lower Stress In Your Body Right Now.
Exercising right for you
Aim to use exercise to balance your stress levels. If you’re already feeling stressed out from work, relationships, finances, sleep deprivation and so on; give the high intensity training a miss.
Lower intensity, restorative forms of exercise such as yoga, pilates and walking outside can be hugely beneficial in reducing stress levels in the body and supporting healthy progesterone levels.
Make sure you’re eating enough food
Restrictive diets - whether you’re heavily restricting one food group (e.g. carbs) or all foods (e.g. going low calorie), your brain can end up getting the message that food is sparse.
Your body is smart and geared for survival (and food is survival); so if it doesn’t feel safe, it will quite switch off all things reproduction for the time being (i.e. ovulation) to prioritise your health and safety.
While the keto diet can be great for some women who struggle with insulin resistance, many women simply need some quality carbs in their lives to feel nourished, satisfied and balanced. Listen to your body we say!
Ensure your nutrient stores are tip top
It takes a lot of lovely nutrients to ovulate. Of particular importance are Vitamins D, C & B6, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Supplementing with a quality multivitamin such as BePure One can make sure you’re getting enough nutrients daily.
Consider a specific herbal formula
When used correctly under the guidance of a health consultant, naturopath, or Eve Hormone Balance Test recommendations, herbal formulas such as BePure ProgestoRenew can have a powerful impact on hormone balance.
Just beware–experimenting with powerful herbs and supplements on a whim can also have the opposite effect if it’s not the right product for your unique hormone picture.
Remember, progesterone is a long game—but it's worth it
It takes around 100 days for your ovarian follicles (eggs) to mature for ovulation. This also means that it takes around 3 cycles of less stress and more nourishment to be rewarded with a juicy dose of progesterone.
After all, good things take time.
What can you do now?
Knowing where you’re at now, and where you want to go are two essential aspects of every journey. With most PMS-type symptoms it can be difficult to know whether it’s oestrogen, progesterone or both hormones at play.
Testing with the Eve Hormone Balance test helps you to get lay of the land, and removes the guesswork so that you can know for sure what’s going on with your hormones.
Looking for more information? Head over to our FAQs page where you can find out about Eve.