Progesterone is essential for the normal functioning of your menstrual cycle and for maintaining a pregnancy. It is released after ovulation and gets the uterus ready to house a fertilized egg. If conception doesn’t happen, your progesterone levels will drop and menstruation will begin.

Incorrect levels of progesterone in your system can cause serious problems when it comes to menstrual bleeding. Women in this situation end up with what is called amenorrhea – a delay in bleeding or a missed menstrual period. Delays from hormone imbalances can be as long 70 days, which is far longer than the average 28-30 day cycle.

So what should you do?

The first step is to go to a doctor because there are actually many things that cause amenorrhea – pregnancy being one of them. Another cause could be polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is where ovulation and menstrual bleeding don’t occur regularly due to imbalances in your estrogen and progesterone levels.

Your doctor will run tests to see what your specific problem actually is. If you are suffering from an imbalance in hormones or issues with your progesterone levels, your doctor will prescribe suitable medication.

What does the medication do?

Medication to balance your progesterone levels usually includes something called medroxyprogesterone. This is basically a pill form of the hormone to increase the levels enough to encourage the body to move onto the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle – the thickening of the uterus lining.

With most of variations, you take the pills for five to ten days after your ovulation is due to happen. Your doctor will help you to work out the best timing for your body. The longer you take the pills for, the longer your cycle will be and the more time lining will have to build up.

Taking progesterone can help to regulate your cycle if you want to get pregnant. It can also assist with decreasing intense menstrual periods by decreasing the thickening that happens on the endometrium.

Remember to always talk to your doctor first. Taking progesterone without a proper prescription or diagnosis from your doctor can be dangerous to your health.

Readers’ questions:

How can I increase progesterone naturally?

For those who don’t want to take synthetic hormones there are certain things that you can eat that will increase your levels of progesterone naturally. Go for foods that have high amounts of Vitamins C, E and B6, as well as zinc, magnesium, sulfur and L-arginine.

How do I balance my progesterone levels?

The best way to balance progesterone and other hormone levels is through good eating habits and a healthy routine. A diet of organic food that is rich in fiber will help, as will maintaining a healthy weight. Avoid greasy food and sugary soft drinks.

How are progesterone levels tested?

The doctor will test your blood for progesterone levels. In order to get an accurate reading, you must fast for at least three hours before the blood is taken. Your doctor will also suggest that you stop taking certain medications that you may be on.

When should I take a progesterone test?

Your doctor will request this test if you find that you are having difficulty conceiving naturally. The results will help them to find appropriate treatment that will hopefully allow you to fall pregnant.