What causes low levels of progesterone?

June 29, 2020

The leading causes of low levels of progesterone in women are menopause, ovarian issues, or a miscarriage. There are several different ovarian issues, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, which can cause irregular ovulation, leading to low progesterone levels. Additionally, women that go through menopause suffer from low levels of progesterone. Recent studies are significantly highlighting the benefits of progesterone therapy after menopause. At the same time, menopause can also considerably increase the risk of individuals suffering from osteoporosis conditions.

While low levels of progesterone can cause a miscarriage, it also functions the other way around. A miscarriage that occurs for other reasons may eventually lead to low progesterone levels in the woman. In the case of men, it works slightly different. A decrease in the level of progesterone for men goes hand in hand with their age. As they grow older, they’ll experience a significant reduction in their progesterone levels.


Progesterone is a hormone that the female body produces. It is predominantly a reproductive hormone and is produced within the ovaries. After the monthly ovulation is done, the process of progesterone development begins. Since it controls the female menstrual cycle and prepares the uterus for pregnancy, progesterone is one of the most significant female sex hormones.

Progesterone acts to thicken the lining of your uterus following ovulation. To help egg fertilization, this thickness prepares the uterus. The egg is inserted in the uterus wall if fertilization occurs. The amount of progesterone increases during pregnancy to maintain the thickness of the uterine wall. Progesterone levels, however, start to drop if no fertilization occurs. It signals the beginning of menstruation.

Testosterone, a hormone that stimulates the development of adrenal hormones, also interacts with this hormone, thereby aiding adrenal functioning. For sperm production, some quantities of progesterone are also required by men.
The Poor Effects of Progesterone

Progesterone performs some significant female body roles, other than controlling the menstrual reproductive cycle in females. For breast development and for breastfeeding, its presence is important. A female body's progesterone levels decide the level of another significant sex hormone, estrogen. The higher your level of progesterone, the lower your body's estrogen ratio and vice versa.

Due to the broad variety of functions it performs in the body, maintaining a stable progesterone level is very important. During pregnancy, lower levels of progesterone are very dangerous. A lack of progesterone impacts the monthly female cycle and therefore contributes to a variety of other problems.

It's also necessary to check for the signs in your body that indicate a lack of progesterone. Before it's too late, you must recognise this deficiency and cure it. There are symptoms of low progesterone given below that you must look out for!

Irregularities in the Menstrual Cycle or missing cycles

A normal menstrual cycle lasts roughly 28 days. When your progesterone levels are lower than average, the length of your cycle is seriously affected. With a delay in menstruation, women with low progesterone levels can experience longer cycles. Your cycle duration can also be inconsistent, accompanied by an unexpectedly short cycle that is normally long. You could have low progesterone levels if you have PCOS and have heavy cramps. Mid-cycle flickering is another symptom to be wary about.

Fertility Concerns

The levels of progesterone have a lot to do with pregnancy, as mentioned above. If you are unable to conceive without any apparent complications or have a miscarriage, you must get your progesterone levels tested. There is a risk that because of a thin lining caused by low progesterone, the uterus is unable to host the fertilized egg. Women with low progesterone must first try to increase the levels of the hormone and then try to get pregnant.


Your skin is also indirectly affected by low progesterone levels. You could have low progesterone if you notice that your normally clear skin has broken out. Your nails are also affected by low progesterone levels, leaving them dull and brittle. If you're low on progesterone, you can also feel your hands and heels developing cracks and your hair becoming dull and brittle.

Gaining Excess Weight

Lower levels of progesterone slow the metabolism of your body, too. This often imbalances hormone levels in the body. These two variables then result in a great deal of weight gain. In such a scenario, while eating well and exercising, you're likely to gain some extra pounds.

Headaches or Migraines

Lower progesterone contributes to higher estrogen that in turn allows the body to retain water and vasodilate. These two factors may cause severe headaches. Women experience more of these migraines and headaches before or after menstruation.

Unexplained Swings in Mood

Women undergo a change attributable to hormonal imbalances in their mental functioning. Among such imbalances, a low level of progesterone that makes women experience abrupt changes in their moods is the most common. You can find yourself constantly moving between happy and sad if you have low progesterone.

Low Sex Drive

Low levels of progesterone also impact one's desire for energy and sex. Over time, women with lower progesterone levels are likely to begin having a lower libido. Lower levels of progesterone also affect the sexual performance and can contribute to a lack of interest in sexual activity overall.

Moods - Relating to Depression

The activity of different neurotransmitters, such as GABA, is impaired by lower progesterone levels. This causes many women to feel sad, experience anxiety, and easily become annoyed. In addition, women with lower levels of progesterone are likely to suffer from insomnia, irrespective of their age, which also starts to affect cognitive ability.


In your body, hormonal imbalances can cause hot flashes. You're likely to experience hot flashes with lower progesterone and more estrogen in your body - especially during the night or when you're asleep.

Problems of the Gall Bladder

When encouraged to do so by cholecystokinin, the gall bladder is intended to clear itself. However, when there is a hormonal imbalance produced due to low levels of progesterone, this does not happen. This can cause your bladder to develop stones and cysts, which can worsen if not treated in time.

Symptoms of Low Progesterone in Pregnancy

Up to this point, irrespective of her child-bearing status, we addressed symptoms that any woman might go through. Lower progesterone and higher levels of estrogen can however, have some significant consequences for pregnant women in particular. Some low progesterone symptoms that are normal in pregnant women are shown below. If you encounter any of the above, you must look out for these and take the necessary steps.

Low Sugar Levels in the Blood

Lower levels of progesterone mean that the body becomes more responsive to insulin. This results in poorer control of the levels of sugar in your body. Under such a condition, you are likely to experience lower blood sugar levels during pregnancy.


Higher progesterone levels also have an effect on your ability to sleep. For pregnant women, this has serious consequences. It can impact her mental health if an expectant mother does not get the sleep she needs or is stressed all the time. Such a condition results in extreme exhaustion in pregnant women, which is not safe for both the expectant mother and the infant.

Abdominal soreness

Since the wall of your uterus has to provide energy and nutrients for the fetus, it must be quite powerful. This resilience can not be guaranteed under low progesterone concentrations, and the lining becomes very thin. The weak lining can also lead to extreme abdominal pain and cramps in pregnant women.


Your hormone levels are affected by lower progesterone levels, which can lead to spotting when pregnant. This spotting may often be too intense to sound like a real menstrual discharge. It could be associated with cramps, so call your OB/GYN if you experience these symptoms.

Lower levels of progesterone indicate the lining of a thin uterus. In rare cases, it may also mean no lining of the uterus at all. If your level of progesterone decreases to an extreme level halfway through your pregnancy, your lining is likely to weaken. A weaker endometrial or uterus lining means that little or no nutrition is received by the developing fetus. This can lead to an abortion or in some situations, a stillbirth.

Other than these, some complications that pregnant women with low progesterone levels face are pre-term deliveries, post-partum depression, anxiety, and hair loss.


Progesterone is a major female hormone that the body requires. Any modification in its development or presence will contribute to an overall hormonal imbalance that can affect your body. There are different signs of lower progesterone levels that you can keep a watch for. By doing so you will be able to spot low levels of progesterone easily and may then pursue successful care.