During pregnancy, the maintenance and ovulation of the process is handled by a vital hormone that we often call progesterone. This belongs to the steroidal class where the hormone itself is produced by the female ovary during the early stages of incurring pregnancy. As the placenta in the system develops with time and forms an appropriate size, the production of the progesterone during pregnancy hormone is taken over by it. The progressive nature of the levels of this hormone increases for the next nine months and in the end triggers the labor contractions and the delivery process. Post to that the levels go back down.
Progesterone During Pregnancy – The Usual Functions
There is often a connection amongst pregnancy, babies and the hormone progesterone which many find difficult to relate to. If you learn a little about the functions and working mechanisms of the progesterone during pregnancy, maybe you can relate to it a bit better.
- 1. Prepare for Conception
The egg attached to the ovary starts ovulating and the tissue which goes by the name corpus luteum that holds the egg to the placenta now starts producing the progesterone during pregnancy. It starts by thickening the lining to the uterus so that the implantation of the egg is easy. Once the embryo implants itself the conception process starts. The ovary after that continues to produce the progesterone for the few initial weeks of pregnancy mainly to sustain. If malfunction occurs during the implantation process, the progesterone along with the estrogen level drops breaking down the endometrium causing menstruation to occur.
- 2. Support Pregnancy
- With the placenta growing, the levels of progesterone increases too. Within the following 8 weeks, the placenta substitutes the ovary in production of progesterone. Ever since then the progesterone production is strictly limited to the placenta which relaxes the uterine muscles and prevents premature contractions. This also aid in stretching the walls to accommodate the growing fetus inside.
- The progesterone also helps them other’s immune system go through a physiological change so that the baby starting to grow within is not destroyed or attacked by the immune system.
- Progesterone during pregnancy also increases glycogen and arterial blood in the uterine linings so that the baby gets ample nutrition.
- To prevent bacteria from encroaching on the uterus, it thickens the cervix and creates a mucous plug.
- 3. Prevent Preterm Labor
FDA in the year 2011 approved the usage of injecting progesterone to the body to avoid preterm labor possibilities. This was applicable for women who had already suffered one preterm labor where it had to be injected 16-20 weeks from the labor. However, if you are bearing more than one fetus, it is probably not a good idea to inject yourself with progesterone. Even if you have never delivered before and is at a risk of preterm labor, the same case applies.
Progesterone during pregnancy- Level check
Even though progesterone is extremely important a hormone required by the body of pregnant women, the women should always conform to certain levels of progesterone throughout the entire pregnancy term to ensure they have a smooth delivery process and a normal baby.
The levels are as follows:
- One to two weeks: For the first two weeks into pregnancy, your ovary would normally produce about 1-1.5ng/ml of progesterone during pregnancy. The pregnancy process is a go ever since the first day of your last period.
- Three to four weeks: Once the ovulation process starts the production of progesterone by the ovary increases to 2ng/ml. the fertilization process starts by the third week when the progesterone levels experience a spike of 1- 3ng/ml on a daily basis. The maximum level of progesterone at this time should be around 10-29ng/ml.
- Five to six weeks: By this time the normal or usual level of progesterone is 10-29ng/ml. the expected range for this would be 6-10ng/ml. owing to the progesterone at around this time the pregnancy hormone uses the nutritional supply by increasing the supply of blood to the placenta.
- Seven to fourteen weeks: by the seventh week the production of progesterone has been shifted to the placenta. The level stays stagnant and then experiences a spike during the end of the first trimester. The usual range right now is 15-60g/ml and it may be higher if you are bearing more than one fetus.
Progesterone during pregnancy levels- Menstrual cycle and pregnancy levels.
- During menstrual cycle:
Day 1-14 — 1 to 1.5ng/ml
Day 15-28 — 2-28 ng/ml
- During pregnancy:
First Trimester — 9-47 ng/ml
Second Trimester — 17-147 ng/ml
Third Trimester — 55-200 ng/ml
Progesterone during pregnancy- why does it lower?
If you are experiencing slight bleeding or spotting during the pregnancy term it would indicate low levels of progesterone which instantly increases the risk of miscarriage. With low progesterone levels, the symptoms leading to the loss of pregnancy along with intense sessions of cramps may also be experienced. Some causes for lowering of progesterone during pregnancy are:
- 1. Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy can be termed as one of the reasons why lowering of progesterone levels may occur. However, this is quite a rare occasion. The condition mainly occurs in the event of a misplaced blastocyst in the fallopian tube.
Some of the risk factors to the ectopic pregnancy can be- pelvic inflammatory diseases, constricted fallopian tube, dizziness from blood loss, vaginal bleeding, scar tissues, endometriosis, lower back pain etc.
This is rather harmful for the patients and therefore quick medical or surgical assistance is advised at the speediest rate possible.
- Other causes
- Spike in the estrogen levels
- Resistance to insulin
- Starving or improper balanced diet
- Spike in the level of cortisol which is a stress hormone
Progesterone during pregnancy levels- how to deal with the lowering levels
To ensure secured pregnancy a normal level of progesterone during pregnancy is required. This allows the uterine lining to remain intact to avoid pregnancy loss. Regular check-ups with the doctor along with a nutritional healthy diet are of necessity. In many cases, supplements pertaining to progesterone needs to be ingested prior or post pregnancy.
- Before pregnancy:
The progesterone thickens the uterine lining thereby aiding the process of implantation. Substituting the progesterone levels produced by the ovary before conception is one way.
- After pregnancy:
To help sustain the endometrium until the point of time when the placenta, which is developed enough now, can take over the production of the hormone is another way to go.
One can opt for progesterone supplements as well.
- Vaginal products
- Vaginal gel: One each day every day. This is the sole FDA-approved progesterone during pregnancy substitute that replaces the donor egg recipients and aids the transfer of frozen embryos.
- Vaginal suppositories: This should usually have a wax base and should be used for at least twice or thrice in a day, daily. However, the FDA does not approve it even though it is quite commonly used.
- Vaginal inserts: this is especially helpful for women under 25. FDA has approved this as a usage to supplement to progesterone but in no way should it replace the progesterone. This too is to be used at least twice or thrice in a day.
- Progesterone oral capsules: these are not FDA specified or approved or concocted with assistance from the FDA. This is scheduled to be used at least thrice in a day and can also be used vaginally instead of orally.
- 3. Injections:These are oil based and used in the general state. This is to be injected preferably on the bottom at least once in a day. This is one of the oldest and most established methods of progesterone giving.
Progesterone during pregnancy- precautions required
If you want to know about the full extent of progesterone during pregnancy, it comes with a set of precautions that one should definitely be aware about. While this is essential, spikes in the level of progesterone in an unusual manner may cause complications during pregnancy. These would usually include:
- Constipation: apart from relaxing the muscles of the uterus wall, the progesterone also tends to smoothen the muscles pertaining to the intestines thereby slowing down or controlling your bowel movements and preventing constipation.
- Headaches: This is mainly caused by vasodilation of the vessels that supply blood to the brain.
- Moodiness/depression: this would usually occur during pregnancy due to an imbalance or spike in the hormones.
- Congested nose: this helps you release nose congestion by relaxation the nostril muscles.
- Tiredness: High levels of progesterone during pregnancy hormone at around this time would depress the central nervous system that we call the CNS causing fatigue and lethargy.
- Tenderness in breast