In the news today we hear the results of some research undertaken looking into how progesterone may prevent early miscarriage in some pregnancies. But did you know that progesterone can affect fertility?
The media headlines are as always quite sensationalised and misleading in some ways. I have seen headlines
8,000 miscarriages a year could be prevented with a £200 treatment,
and for those couples that is incredible news, but there are many miscarriages it may not prevent.
But, 250,000 miscarriages occur per year in the uk, Tommys UK. The reasons for are varied, some relate to the woman, some directly to the egg, some to the sperm, some a combination of the two.
In the research the progesterone was given to women bleeding in early pregnancy. We will find out in due course what the treatment criteria will be and what testing will be based on. Of course, some women who may miscarry due to low progesterone, may not bleed during the pregnancy, there may not be any warning signs to react to.
I will re-iterate what I always say and that is that Western modern medicine is an incredible thing, it has prolonged the life of members of my family and without it some of my friends wouldnt be here today, and perhaps I wouldn't.
And stepping in to address an issue when it has occurred is fantastic, but we fail to look back to see how what may have caused it and could this have armed us in preventing it. I talk alot about this down stream approach, and that we should be heading up stream to see what we can do.
So let's head up stream and take a look at progesterone, how it affects us and what we can do.
The progesterone test in Fertility
if you've had fertility blood hormone profiling, You may be familiar with the day 21 test. This is part of the routine hormine profile testing for fertility and it gives an indication of the strength of ovulation.
As progesterone is produced once ovulation has occurred, the test needs to be carried out 7 days after ovulation. The name day 21 was given based on a 28 day menstrual cycle where ovulation occurs at day 14. If you don't ovulate on day 14, then day 21 won't be the right day. If you ovulate on day 15, then day 22 is test day, if day 16 then day 23 and so on.
A Balancing act
Many of my clients demonstrate a short luteal phase (bear with me), this could be due to low progesterone , or oestrogen dominance. What's the difference?
Well, Oestrogen and Progesterone, 2 of the reproductive hormones that are present through out the cycle.
Oestrogen and Progesterone oppose each other, oestrogen higher in the first half of the cycle (follicular phase, Bleed-ovulation) Progesterone in the second half (Luteal Phase, after ovulation -bleed).
If the opposition is affected, i.e one hormone is in dominance, the effects of the other are in effect weakened.
When temperature charting manually, using an APP such as Fertility Friend or via Ovusense ovulation tracker, Ava or similar, we gain a lot of information about this hormonal balance, and of specific interest towhee working with many clients is what is happening in the second half.
Short Luteal Phase
Many of the clients I work with have a short luteal phase and I'm seeing this more and more.
The Luteal phase varies in length, most commonly 12-14 days, with many 11-17. But if real note here is that if it is less than 11 days, pregnancy is very unlikely.
Progesterone thickens the lining of the uterus, making implantation possible. But it doesn't end there, the progesterone supports the developing pregnancy until the placenta takes over around 8-13 weeks.
After ovulation a structure called the corpus luteum is left behind on the ovary and it is this that produces the progesterone
So we can see how important progesterone is to
- enable pregnancy
- to suport in the early weeks
How can you tell?
There are a couple of things to consider, are you oestrogen dominant or low in progesterone. Oestrogen dominance is on the increase, lifestyle choices, processed foods, poor sleep, stress, constant busyness, chemical exposure in every day items.
When we look at what depletes progesterone, well, one of the biggest factors is aa hormopne diversion, often called a steal. I n order to maintain the stress levels taht you are producing, and that doesnt mean that you are STRESSED as such, but every time they are realeased, you are late, you cant find your keys, something on social media triggered you, an argument, these hoemones are realeased and if regular eboughm then your body is on high alert as it believes you are in sdanger, you are surrounded bytigers, and this in itself can be the cause of depleted progesterone. The biggest tiger may be the fact that you are not getting pregnant.
Can you increase progesterone naturally
Yes, and this has been achieved with many of my clients. in fact one of my most memorable early clients was someone who had been told that her only hope of pregnancy was to use donor eggs. Her charting showed a short luteal phase and after 3 months of treatment and changes on her part she was pregnant naturally.
I work with my clients to:
- Improve nutrition, some key nutrients affect the production of progesterone, Vitamin c, Some of the B's (which become depleted through stress)
- Reduce stress response, mindfulness, relaxation techniques, self hypnosis/visualisation
- Address physical imbalance, including pelvic congestion
- Identify fear triggers and emotional responses
- Support you to hear your bodies cues, nudges, mighty shoves!!
- Move away from the all consuming focus of fertility and work towards health and balance
- Self care
- self massage
- castor oil packs
- accupressure points
Want to know more?
If you want to know more, find out how I can support you or are interested in working with me then please do get in touch,