Progesterone is one of the two major hormones involved in the menstrual cycle, and tends to dominate the female body just after ovulation. An increase in this hormone makes sure that the uterine lining stays thick, capable of allowing an embryo to implant. Conversely, a drop in progesterone signals to the body to start shedding the uterine lining, resulting in menstruation instead of a healthy pregnancy. Therefore, hormones like progesterone affect pregnancy greatly, as the proper amount of this substance allows pregnancy to occur in the first place, and then flourish for the next nine months. Fortunately, progesterone levels can be monitored and adjusted if needed.
Not only does progesterone affect pregnancy once it occurs, but it also plays a role in conception. Women who have had a few miscarriages very early on, before the eighth week, may find that their progesterone levels are too low to support pregnancy. In many cases, their egg was fertilized and tried to implant, but the period arrived anyway, flushing out the embryo after the body started producing hCG, but before the embryo could safely attach to the uterine wall. A uterine lining that sheds despite the presence of an embryo usually points to low levels of progesterone, resulting in a positive pregnancy test early on, followed by a miscarriage. Women who believe that their levels are low can go to a doctor and get tested shortly after ovulation to determine if they need treatment.
The normal amount of progesterone production after ovulation is about 15 to 30 mg daily, and this number should double, or even triple, after conception. The correct levels of progesterone affect pregnancy by ensuring that all the common symptoms of early pregnancy are observed, such as nausea, breast tenderness, cervical changes, and an increase of blood vessels, to name a few. In the third trimester, the levels should increase to at least 300 mg daily to make sure that the fetus has everything he needs in the womb. Normal levels of progesterone affect pregnancy by ensuring that the uterus does not contract prematurely, as well, as that could lead to preterm labor.
Women who notice low levels of this hormone can use supplements to increase their progesterone. Doctors can prescribe pills that should be taken just after ovulation occurs. Additionally, there are many natural progesterone creams on the market that can be purchased over-the-counter and rubbed on the body. Pregnant women who are worried about how hormones like progesterone affect pregnancy should be aware that the placenta takes over the production of this hormone after the first trimester, which means that artificial treatments can be stopped at that point.