As we age, our bodies go through a lot of changes. For women, this can mean dealing with perimenopause and all the joy that comes along with it – hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain… the list goes on. One symptom that is often overlooked is low progesterone levels. This can cause a whole host of problems, from irregular periods to anxiety and depression. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help achieve optimal progesterone levels.
Laboratory testing is a confirmatory method to find out about low progesterone levels. For some though, you may or may not know that you already have it. In this blog post, I will tell you what the top four most common symptoms are of low progesterone and also what you can do about it. I find that women seem to kind of move their way through perimenopause and often experience hormone related symptoms. They relate to other women as well and seem to just have to put up with it and manage it somehow. Know now that there are natural solutions at hand.
- Mood Imbalances
Moodiness is a tricky thing to deal with. It can often come and go as moods change, but the symptoms typically increase in frequency before women’s periods which may be an indication that they have low levels of progesterone hormone – not just general sadness or anxiety either!
- Migraine Headaches
This sometimes can happen mid cycle, meaning, two weeks before your period, and even up to your period days. Headaches ultimately happen closer to when you’re going to get your period a few days or a week before. I work with someone who has experienced this. It becomes very debilitating. She has to lie in bed and needs to turn off all the lights. She feels nauseous, dizzy, and can’t focus or do anything. If this is happening to you every couple of weeks within the month, this is going to greatly exhaust you.
- Having Low Energy and Brain Fog
Having low energy is another commonly overlooked symptom. This may feel like someone just pulled the plug out of the wall on their energy and they’ve just got nothing, especially right after ovulation. This can get so tiresome and women will feel lonely. Some can barely get out of bed and function and get to work or do their daily tasks of life.
Additionally, brain fog goes along with having low energy. You can’t focus, can’t concentrate and have no energy. If you feel like this is something that happens to you, especially in a regular monthly fashion, it’s quite likely that you have low progesterone.
These symptoms can happen to women as they transition through perimenopause and into menopausal stages. During this time, your estrogen levels may be lowering along with progesterone. This could lead you having an increase in mood swings or fatigue amongst other things I spoke about such low energy levels coupled by brain fog in the last half of our cycle’s duration
- Insomnia or Trouble Sleeping
The other thing that often goes along with that feeling drained and fatigued is insomnia. Sometimes we think we’re low in energy just because we’re not sleeping. If your progesterone levels are low, you might notice this as you are getting closer again to your periods. It could be that it is the low progesterone that’s actually causing you to wake up more often in the night, versus just having more chronic insomnia.
You want to be looking for patterns of symptoms often getting worse in that two week period just before your menstrual cycle. That is particularly applicable if you are still having regular cycles. Expectedly, we want to be thinking about what is the solution. I will tell you what some of the most common quick fix solutions are. I work with women when they come to me, they’d try these things.
There are solutions. But first . . .
Acquiring some form of progesterone can be a fix. There is one available in IUD form. This means, it is inserted vaginally and stays in the uterus. Some of them will use bioidentical progesterone in either a cream or pill form. Sometimes this can be helpful for women, but sometimes not. There are several reasons why this could go wrong.
When your inflammation is high and you’re not digesting well, it can trigger the release of extra hormones. These extra chemicals in turn affect how our body breaks down food into nutrients for use by cells throughout ourselves – including those responsible for mood regulation!
When taking extra progesterone hormones to try and help the low levels, it can backfire. For some women this works well. However, others who have tried acquiring hormones synthetically without success are not really keen on adding more artificial substances into their body.
One of the main things is just to recognize the root cause of why the progesterone couldn’t go in the first place. It is because of the ever-present stress. When you are stressed, your body releases cortisol which blocks the production of estrogen. This can lead to lower than normal levels for many women in their 40s and 50’s
What happens when we are under stress, especially if we’re under chronic stress (which I find is so common in the world we live in today, especially as women) is that cortisol levels get really high. Our body is continuing to ask for more cortisol production because the stress is constant.
It’s not necessarily natural for our bodies to continue producing cortisol all the time. It’s really meant to be there when needed. However, if we require it consistently, what happens is that your body will run out and then you can’t produce any more of these stress hormones because they’re just being used up!
Now, what our body cleverly does is it communicates with the brain and it starts to steal one of our sex hormones to make cortisol. When we have our progesterone getting stolen to make cortisol, it’s going to get lower than it should be. That’s where the symptoms start to come in.
Here’re the fixes.
One of the solutions for us is to start addressing our stress. The most apparent way to do that is to start lowering our stress. Sometimes this isn’t always possible. We also want to look at stress resilience strategies. For you, that’s going to be unique to you in your situation. For instance, I personally use meditation.
Some women will resort to doing yoga. Some find moments of peace in prayer. There’s just different things that work for different people, and it might be a combination of techniques. Some will definitely use breathing techniques for stressful situations at the moment. These are all things that you can use to address quite quickly.
The first step really is to identify what is happening. Sometimes you need to do lab testing to discover exactly what’s happening with your progesterone and your cortisol levels. As a functional medicine practitioner, I administer these types of lab tests all the time. If you are interested in learning more about that, you can feel free to connect with me.
One way to optimize your progesterone levels is through diet. There are certain foods that will help regulate the hormone and even increase it slightly! If you feel you have symptoms, look at some dietary issues. There are some foods that you can include in meals that actually help you to regulate the progesterone levels and even increase it slightly.
The list of foods that are healthy fats and high in fiber is endless. Some examples include avocados, flax seeds (or their oil), chia seeds, pumpkin seeds- the healthier you eat them the better they work for your body! Sometimes people will use canned pureed pumpkins as well to add more variety into their diet.
Other ways that sometimes can be helpful to add in progesterone would be more in supplement form such as those that contain borage or Evening Primrose Oil. Either of these two but I wouldn’t suggest both at the same time.
If you are perimenopausal or know someone who is, please share this article with them. It’s important to have this information and to know that there are natural solutions at hand. And if you want more help managing your hormones, don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule a discovery call. We would be happy to chat with you about your specific situation and see how we can help. Thanks for reading!
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DISCLAIMER: The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional