Category Archives: Progesterone

What Causes Low Progesterone?

what causes low progesterone

Progesterone plays many roles within our intricate bodies. It supports bone strength, helps maintain normal cholesterol levels, soothes the nervous system, helps us cope with stress, builds muscle and supports healthy sleep. It also plays a critical role in regulating the menstrual cycle and early phases of pregnancy.

On the flip side, low progesterone can really throw your body out of whack, leading to fatigue, depression, anxiety, lack of libido and fertility issues—just to name a few of the complications.

By having a firm grasp on what causes low progesterone, you can be better equipped to navigate any progesterone imbalance you may have. But before we go into the causes, we need to understand what low progesterone means—and how does it differ from estrogen dominance?

Low Progesterone or Estrogen Dominance?

Actually, low progesterone and estrogen dominance go hand in hand, because estrogen dominance is only relative to the amount of progesterone and other hormones in the body.

Estrogen dominance can mean one of two things: that you have too much estrogen (but an adequate amount of progesterone), or that you do not have enough progesterone (but do have an adequate amount of estrogen). In both scenarios you will have more estrogen than progesterone—thus, Estrogen Dominance.

Estrogen dominance can lead to endometriosis, fibroids, headaches, PMS, headaches and water retention, to name but a few of the issues that can arise.
Now, what we want is Progesterone Dominance. That’s because while estrogen is essential to a healthy functioning body (including being essential for bone health, mood and providing women with hips breast and thighs), when there is more estrogen than progesterone, we can begin to feel off kilter. Progesterone is a feel-good hormone that sooths estrogens sharp edges.

What Causes Estrogen Dominance?

Well, it can be caused by excessive stress, xenoestrogens in the environment, and poor gut and/or liver health. However, for the purpose of this article, we’re concerned with another reason for estrogen dominance: low progesterone.

While estrogen dominance and low progesterone are often terms that are used together, estrogen dominance does not necessarily imply low progesterone. However, if you have low progesterone, you will by implication also have estrogen dominance.

When a person has low progesterone, it can be truly life altering to remedy the situation with supplements such as progesterone cream and natural, progesterone-enhancing lifestyle changes.

What causes low progesterone?

Low progesterone can be caused from a number of imbalances in lifestyle and/or within the body. It’s typically caused by what’s called anovulatory cycles in women.

Anovulatory Cycle

An anovulatory cycle is when you do not ovulate for that particular cycle—though you still bleed. All menstruating women experience an anovulatory cycle here and there, but if they happen regularly, there is reason for concern.

The thing to note is that when you don’t ovulate, your body doesn’t develop the corpus luteum which makes progesterone. And that can lead to low progesterone.

So, when we’re asking what is causing low progesterone in a woman, we’re really asking, why isn’t she ovulating? What’s causing her to have anovulatory cycles?

There are a variety of issues that could explain why you’re having anovulatory cycles—including those listed below:

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is the most common cause of anovulatory cycles, affecting roughly 10% of women. It causes the body to produce excess androgen (or male) hormones such as testosterone. This can lead to irregular periods, ovarian cysts, and hirsutism—as well as anovulation.

PCOS can cause acne, hair loss, excessive facial and body hair, weight gain and infertility.

Hyperprolactinemia: A Prolactin Disorder

Another fairly common condition, hyperprolactinemia is a prolactin disorder. It is characterized by too much prolactin in the blood of a non-pregnant woman or a man.

Prolactin is a hormone made by the pituitary gland. It is the hormone responsible for developing breasts in women and affects sperm production in men. It has a role in the menstrual cycle as well, though its primary role is to stimulate lactation after childbirth.

Too much prolactin can cause infertility in both men and women. It can lead to disrupted menstrual cycles, including lack of ovulation—and thus low progesterone.

A few of the causes of hyperprolactinemia include stress and hypothyroidism.


Hypothyroidism is when the body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone—which leads to imbalances in other hormones in the body. This is because the thyroid hormone is responsible for regulating the entire endocrine system, the network of glands that produce hormones throughout the body.

If the endocrine system is off kilter, you may stop ovulating, and as we know, lack of ovulation leads to lowered levels of progesterone. 

Stress-Induced Anovulation (SIA)

Stress-Induced Anovulation, or SIA, is exactly what it sounds like—a body dealing with chronic stress and high cortisol levels will cease to ovulate. Another term for SIA is functional hypothalamic amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is the absence of menstrual periods. So, SIA leads to both a lack of ovulations and a lack of menstruation.

What’s happening?

Well, cortisol is a stress hormone and chronic stress leads to chronically high cortisol levels in the body.

How are cortisol levels tied into progesterone levels?

Progesterone is a precursor to cortisol. That means that the body converts progesterone to cortisol when needed. When under lots of stress, the body will need to convert more and more progesterone into cortisol, leaving the body stripped of necessary progesterone.

This lack of progesterone then leads to a lack of ovulation and menstruation.

What can cause chronic stress?

Some of the things the body can interpret as stress include things we wouldn’t think of. For example: over-exercising, not getting enough sleep, food sensitivities –even too much estrogen!—can be stresses to the body and lead to SIA.

Body Weight: Too High or Too Low

Both obesity and low body fat can lead to a lack of ovulation and thus low progesterone.

Too much body fat leads to a dysregulation of all hormones, including an excess of estrogen, which is produced by and stored in fat. It’s also worth noting that obesity-induced high estrogen and low progesterone is a risk factor for breast cancer and endometrial cancer, the latter of which studies indicate supplementing with progesterone can be effective in curing.

On the flip side, not enough body fat inhibits the body’s ability to perform many basic functions, including balanced hormone production.
It’s important to maintain a healthy diet and an appropriate amount of exercise (not too much or too little) so the body can do its job to produce and regulate hormone production.


As we age, our hormonal balance shifts too. Men and women can become low in progesterone with age. Women begin to produce less estrogen and progesterone in their 30’s. Then, during the menopausal transition years, a woman may have shorter menstrual cycles and anovulatory cycles, which will diminish progesterone production.

At this point she may find progesterone treatments, such as progesterone cream, to be helpful in mitigating uncomfortable symptoms of menopause.

How to Supplement with Progesterone Cream

Once you know the underlying cause of your low progesterone, you can begin to adjust any deficiency and maintain healthy progesterone levels. Natural progesterone cream such as Progest Zen can help.

using progesterone cream

Why progesterone cream?

Progesterone cream is a convenient way to get your dose of progesterone, since progesterone absorbs nicely into the body through your skin and into the subcutaneous fat layer. Progesterone is very fat soluble, so from the fat layer, it will enter the blood stream quickly.

What kind of progesterone cream should I get?

When deciding what type of progesterone cream to get, go for bioidentical or natural progesterone.

Bioidentical hormone therapy is structurally identical to human hormones, making it very safe for your body. As a bonus, they’re derived from plant sterols, such as Wild Yam, which is what Progest Zen uses, making them all natural.
How do I apply progesterone cream?

Simply rub the cream anywhere on your body. Some like to rub it on the soft skin bits—such as abdomen, behind your knee, inner thighs or inner elbow, but it will absorb anywhere. It can also be rubbed into breasts to reduce breast pain.

How often do I apply progesterone cream?

The frequency of application will depend on the reasons behind your progesterone deficiency. For most menstruating women, you will apply the cream for the 14 days leading up to your period (the luteal phase). For menopausal women, you may apply it for 25 days on, 3 days off. Men may apply it every day.

Lifestyle Changes to Support Progesterone Supplementation

Taking natural progesterone is a fantastic option for progesterone deficiency, as it will compensate for the missing progesterone. However, it will not increase production of progesterone within your body. You’ll want to follow life changes to do that. For example, lower any stress and eat a balanced diet

Progesterone supplementation along with lifestyle changes can be a great help if you’re suffering from low progesterone. It’s relatively simple, but really important to recovering hormone balance.

How to Increase Progesterone?

how to increase progesterone

Wondering how to increase progesterone naturally? You’ve come to the right place.

Progesterone is a hormone that is essential for a number of important body functions—including healthy pregnancy—and many women want to know how to increase progesterone to get pregnant. Increasing progesterone can also ensure a woman feels her best during her entire reproductive cycle, including balancing mood and energy levels.

If you think you might have low levels of progesterone, read on.

What is Progesterone?

Progesterone is a steroid hormone that is primarily secreted in the ovaries in women and the testes in men. However, it is also secreted in other parts of the body, including in the brain and adrenal glands.

To get into a little bit of science details: the body uses cholesterol to make pregnenolone, and then converts pregnenolone into progesterone. But the process doesn’t stop there, because progesterone is a precursor to other hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, among others.

In other words, progesterone is itself a building block to essential hormones in the human body—and is critical to both males and females.

In fact, progesterone plays a part in a great many functions within our bodies. It helps regulate blood sugar, build bones and maintain healthy brain activity. Of course, it is most well-known for its role in the female reproductive cycle.

Let’s go a little deeper into the role progesterone plays in pregnancy.

Progesterone to Get Pregnant

Progesterone is an essential hormone for the reproductive process. It is the hormone that tells the body to prepare for possible pregnancy and is critical for building up the walls of the uterus to support a fertilized egg to grow into a child.

Progesterone is released after ovulation in preparation for implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterus. If no egg is fertilized and implanted in the nutrient rich uterine lining within 14 days, progesterone levels decline and the lining will shed—also known as menstruation.

If the egg is fertilized, and pregnancy takes place, progesterone levels will continue to increase, as it has several important roles in the baby-growing process. For example, progesterone stimulates the growth of blood vessels to supply the womb with food for the fetus and it strengthens the uterus to prepare for labor.

So, if a woman’s body isn’t producing enough progesterone, the uterus won’t be able to support an embryo—if it is even able to implant. If low progesterone (or an estrogen/progesterone imbalance, which we’ll talk about below) is the cause for infertility, a woman will likely want to know how to increase progesterone to get pregnant.

increase progesterone naturally

How to Increase Progesterone Naturally?

There are several considerations when planning how to increase progesterone naturally. Lifestyle changes are perhaps the biggest factor, although they can be harder to implement and take longer to feel the effects. For example, reducing stress is important for overall health, including maintaining healthy progesterone levels.

Natural progesterone supplements can help support you in these lifestyle shifts—but more on that later. First let’s examine what you can do to assist your body in achieving and maintaining long term health—including, of course, healthy progesterone levels.

Reduce Stress

When you’re stressed out, your body will use its resources to produce more adrenalin and cortisol to handle the stress. The problem is that the building materials used to make adrenalin and cortisol are the same as those used to make progesterone. And if all the resources are being used to make stress hormones, there will be none left for essential progesterone production.

To reduce stress try spending more time in nature, meditating or taking time to simply do nothing—just sit and watch the world. If possible, it’s also valuable to remove the primary sources of stress.

Progesterone and Diet

Diet is paramount when it comes to naturally increasing progesterone. While no foods contain progesterone, the building blocks for this hormone can be found in the nutrients of a balanced diet. By considering your diet, you can be sure you’re getting enough of the critical nutrients your body needs to produce sufficient amounts of progesterone.

Some of the essential nutrients for progesterone production include:

  • Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral that supports and directs the pineal gland in the production of Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH). FSH causes the production of the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone and is essential for ovulation. Without magnesium, the pineal gland can’t produce FSH and ovulation may cease to take place—which leads to less progesterone being produced. Find magnesium in spinach, fish, avocado and dark chocolate (over 70%), among other foods.
  • This is another mineral which tells the pineal gland what to do and is critical for FSH production (and thus progesterone). And Zinc deficiencies are incredibly wide spread. Make sure you’re getting enough by eating shellfish, mushrooms, pumpkin and sesame seeds, potatoes, peas and green beans.
  • B6: Studies have indicated that Vitamin B6 increases progesterone levels in women and decreases chances of miscarriage. Get enough B6 in your diet by eating sunflower seeds, sweet potato, turkey, fish, milk and eggs.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C has also been shown in studies to lead to increased levels of progesterone in women. Get Vitamin C by eating bell peppers, fruit (especially citrus), broccoli and tomatoes.
  • L-Arginine: L-Arginine is an amino acid which supports healthy blood circulation. This in turn supports a healthy corpus luteum. And we already know that a healthy corpus luteum will lead to healthy progesterone levels. Find L-Arginine in high protein foods such as lentils, salmon and chicken.
  • Reduce Estrogen
    When thinking about progesterone, we usually also need to consider estrogen. The two hormones work together and in relation to one another. When estrogen levels are much higher than progesterone, it’s called estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance can lead to a laundry list of uncomfortable symptoms, such as breast tenderness, poor sleep, PMS, weight gain and fatigue. To avoid excess estrogen, there are few things you can do. Maintain Healthy Weight: Weight gain leads to estrogen production because fat cells produce estrogen. Thus, being overweight can lead to fertility issues.
  • Avoid Xenoestrogens: Xenoestrogens are manmade estrogens that can be found in plastics, skin products, etc. They act like estrogen in the body, filling receptors, and can lead to estrogen dominance. The goal is to minimize the amount of exposure to xenoestrogens as much as possible. You can do so by avoiding any products with synthetic fragrance or phthalates, avoiding plastics (especially heating and eating out of plastics), and avoiding foods that have been sprayed by pesticides and chemicals (think organic). Also, when choosing meats, be sure to get hormone free.
    Remember, a balance of hormones is what we’re going for. Lowering excess estrogen will give progesterone a greater influence within the body.

Right! So we’ve covered three things that can address root causes for hormone imbalance and make significant long term shifts in the progesterone balance in your body: reduce stress, manage your diet, and reduce estrogen. But what else can you do to really drive change in your progesterone levels? Read on.

progesterone increase

How to naturally Increase Progesterone with Supplementation

Ok: so you’re wondering how to naturally increase progesterone with greater efficiency beyond the lifestyle changes mentioned above? Supplementation might be right for you.

Supplementing with a cream, gel or capsules will have a great immediate impact, bringing your hormones into balance more quickly. Then you can use the lifestyle shifts to maintain your hormonal balance moving into the future.

First, a caution: When supplementing you’ll want to be sure you’re supplementing with progesterone and NOT progestin. Progestin is a synthetic form of progesterone—and though it will fit into the same receptors as progesterone, it can have serious negative consequences. And if you came here to find out how to increase progesterone to get pregnant, you definitely want to avoid progestin. It is not safe for pregnancy and can cause birth defects.

Ok—now that that’s out of the way! What do you want to look for in a progesterone supplement?

Bioidentical progesterone is a good place to start. This means it is identical to the progesterone naturally found within our human bodies—and thus totally safe.

Then, look at the ingredients. Do you recognize the words on the label—or are they easy to look up and translate into herbs and plants you recognize? Or are they foreign and synthetic sounding?

Progest Zen for example has an ingredient list you can see right here –and it is all natural ingredients. It includes things like Aloe, Avocado Oil, Wild Yam, Milk Thistle and Rosemary.

Now consider strength: the strength of the progesterone cream you choose will be dependent on how out of balance your hormones are. If you have extreme estrogen dominance, a 10% progesterone cream might be right for you. If it’s a minor imbalance, the 2% strength is probably better.

If you’re unsure, get a hormone test to find out what your levels are and speak to a doctor.

Hopefully this article has answered some of your questions about how to naturally increase progesterone. Combining supplementation with lifestyle changes will set you onto a path of healthy progesterone levels and balanced hormone regulation. And remember, you can always talk to a doctor or health professional for personalized advice.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.

Does Progesterone Cream Work?

Best Natural Progesterone Cream - Progest Zen

Progesterone is critical to good health. Just consider for a moment that it is the oldest hormone on the planet—vital for all vertebrates (that includes fish, reptiles, birds and mammals), including, of course, human beings!

While typically used as a supplement to treat menstrual or fertility problems in women, natural progesterone—in the form of progesterone cream or injections – is becoming more and more common for the treatment of a wide range of health issues in both men and women.

But does progesterone work? We’ll get into the particulars, but first let’s review some basics.

What is Progesterone?

Progesterone is a steroid hormone that is primarily secreted in the ovaries in women and the testes in men. However, it is also secreted in other parts of the body, including in the brain and adrenal glands. Essentially, the body uses cholesterol to make pregnenolone, and then converts pregnenolone into progesterone.

But the process doesn’t stop there, because progesterone is a precursor to other hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, among others. In other words, progesterone is itself a building block to essential hormones in the human body.

In fact, progesterone plays a part in a great many functions within the our bodies. It helps regulate blood sugar, build bones and maintain healthy brain activity. Of course, it is most well-known for its role in the female reproductive cycle.

Progesterone is the hormone that stimulates the uterus to prepare the way for a baby during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. It is critical for building up the walls to support a fertilized egg to grow into a child. If the egg is not fertilized, progesterone levels drop again, signaling menstruation to begin.

If the egg is fertilized, and pregnancy takes place, progesterone levels will continue to increase, as it has several important roles in the baby-growing process. For example, progesterone stimulates the growth of blood vessels to supply the womb with food for the fetus and it strengthens the uterus to prepare for labor.

To sum it up in a nutshell, progesterone is a hormone and is the essential building block for making other hormones—and is critical to both males and females (although it is most well-known for its role in the female reproductive organs).

OK then—but what’s natural progesterone?

Glad you asked.

What’s Natural Progesterone?

Natural progesterone is a way of describing progesterone when taken as a supplement and further serves to differentiate it from progestin.

Progestin is a synthetic, lab-developed alternative to progesterone.  While chemically quite similar, it can also cause a number of health problems. It can be much stronger than natural progesterone and has been linked to cardiovascular issues as well as cancer (when combined with estrogen supplements).

Progesterone is safer (and can even help with cardiovascular issues!). When taking progesterone, it is better to take a natural progesterone, such as natural progesterone cream like Progest Zen.

Why Take Progesterone?

People take progesterone to treat a wide range of symptoms including:

  • Menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes
  • Menstrual cycle issues, such as PMS, heavy bleeding, heavy cramping, irregular periods, dysmenorrhea and more
  • Fertility issues
  • Endometriosis
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Depression
  • Sleep issues
  • Lack of libido
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Myopathy
  • Migraines
  • Prevent loss of bone density

As you can see, there are lots of reasons why a person might take progesterone—and this list is by no means exhaustive.

Does Progesterone Work When Taken As a Supplement?

There is ample anecdotal evidence that progesterone works to relieve all of the symptoms listed above and more. For example, many women report relief from severe PMS and heavy menstrual cycles. Others report relief from menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and insomnia.

In addition to using a cream or other supplement, you can also eat a diet that supports natural progesterone production within your body. Some foods that can help increase progesterone include cabbage, kale, beans, and spinach.

The Best Natural Progesterone Cream

While progesterone can be supplemented in the form of capsules or injection, gels and creams tend to be the most common method of supplementation.  When taken as a cream, progesterone works by absorbing into the skin, thus bypassing the liver, and going directly to receptor sites throughout the body where progesterone is needed. 

If you’re considering taking progesterone and want to make sure you’re using a quality cream, consider the following suggestions.

Tips on choosing the best natural progesterone cream:

  • Skip the yam: Yam actually contains diosgenin which can be made into progesterone in a lab, but not within the human body, where it is impossible to convert. Therefore, yam or soy will not succeed in increasing your progesterone levels.
  • Avoid Progestins: Progestins are synthetic progesterone. They combine to some of the progesterone receptors in the body, but not all. Progestins are much stronger than progesterone. They can cause increased facial hair growth in women, have a negative effective on the cardiovascular system, and when combined with estrogen, will increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
  • Look for bioidentical hormones: It’s important when choosing the best natural progesterone cream to pick one that is made with bioidentical hormones to the hormones in your body. This simply means that they have the same biological molecular structure to your own hormones –unlike progestins or natural yam alternatives.

One of the best natural progesterone creams is Progest Zen. Progest Zen is a bio-identical hormone cream that can offer you support if you’re suffering from low progesterone.

If you’re unsure if you need progesterone, you can always get a test to find out what your levels are. Talk to your doctor about options. And remember, in addition to supplements, always be sure to eat a healthy diet, get exercise and avoid stress.