Progesterone is a female sex hormone that is primarily produced in the corpus luteum in normally menstruating women. The main role of progesterone is to prepare the body for pregnancy (1).
For more information about progesterone, see our previous article “What is progesterone?“
What are normal progesterone levels?
Progesterone levels fluctuate during each menstrual cycle. They are low (<0.5 ng/mL) during the follicular phase, with a rapid rise following the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge at ovulation to 10-25 ng/mL. If no conception occurs, progesterone levels decline, and menstruation beings. If an egg is fertilized, the corpus luteum maintains progesterone levels until around week six. The placenta produces progesterone for the remainder of the pregnancy, with levels increasing up to 45 ng/mL in the first trimester, and 230 ng/mL in the third trimester (2).
Estrogen is the other main female hormone, and the balance of progesterone and estrogen is very important for female health. Although an excess of estrogen (known as estrogen dominance) is more common, some women are instead affected by excess progesterone.
What can cause high progesterone?
An excess of progesterone (in relation to estrogen) can be caused by various factors, including:
- Menstrual cycle changes, such as an extended luteal phase when progesterone levels are higher
- Reduced estrogen
- Excess supplementation with progesterone or progesterone precursors
- Adrenal-related problems
What are the signs of high progesterone?
There is a wide range of symptoms associated with high progesterone, including:
- Weight changes, usually weight gain
- Low mood
- Dizziness or spinning sensation
- Bloating and water retention
- Reduced sex drive
How can I measure my progesterone levels?
Measuring the levels of progesterone in your blood is very simple and only requires a tiny blood sample from a self-collected finger-prick. See our Progesterone test for more information.
Since the balance between progesterone and estrogen is very important, it is generally recommended that you also measure your estrogen levels at the same time. We offer a test for Estradiol, which is the predominant form of estrogen.
Alternatively, you may wish to select our Women’s Health Hormone Panel, which measures your levels of progesterone and estradiol alongside 10 other important biomarkers.
Are there treatment options for high progesterone?
The treatment options for high progesterone are targeted at the underlying cause, so it is important to determine what could be causing high progesterone.
If high progesterone is associated with taking a progesterone supplement (such as to treat estrogen dominance or other issues around menopause), the dosage of the supplement may need to be reduced.
Birth control pills (which contain a synthetic form of progesterone) can also trick the body into thinking it has too much progesterone and causes some of the common high progesterone symptoms. Hence, it may be necessary to come off birth control pills or switch to a different option.
Adrenal fatigue can cause increased progesterone (3), often accompanied by high cortisol (another hormone analyzed in our Women’s Health Hormone Panel). High cortisol is a sign of stress, so taking measures to reduce stress can be beneficial.
Sometimes thyroid abnormalities can also affect the production of other hormones, so it may be necessary to check your thyroid function and treat any abnormalities. We also offer several thyroid health tests, including our Thyroid Health, Complete Panel.
1. Weigel NL, & Rowan BG. (2001). Estrogen and progesterone action. In L. J. DeGroot, & J. L. Jameson, Endocrinology (Vol. 3, 2053-2060). Philadelphia: WB Saunders Co.
2. Pagana KD, Pagana TJ, Pagana TN. Mosby’s Diagnostic & Laboratory Test Reference. 14th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Elsevier; 2019.
3. Herrera AY, Nielsen SE, Mather M. (2016) Stress-induced increases in progesterone and cortisol in naturally cycling women. Neurobiol Stress. 3:96-104.