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Low Progesterone: What Is It And What Can You Do About It?

22 November, 2022

Many women have low progesterone, and if you’re one of them you probably feel like your hormones are out of control. PMS, anxiety, sore boobs, bloating, heavy periods and spotting are just some of the many symptoms that low progesterone can be the cause of. 

What Is progesterone? 

Progesterone is an important hormone that is made in:

  • The adrenal glands

  • The corpus luteum — a mass of cells that forms in the ovary after ovulation. It produces progesterone during early pregnancy as well

  • In the placenta during later pregnancy

Progesterone (when in balance with oestrogen) supports:

  • Brain health

  • Nervous system

  • Improved sleep quality

  • Bone health/density

  • Skin health

  • Prevention of miscarriage and early labour

Low progesterone symptoms

Suspected low progesterone usually occurs if you’re suffering from:

  • Tricky PMS

  • Acne

  • Spotting before your period starts

  • Heavy periods

  • Mood changes

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Having a short time between ovulating

  • Having your period (less than 10 days long)

What causes low progesterone?

Unfortunately, there are many things that can cause low progesterone, from stress to age. Lots of things can stop us from ovulating or interfere with progesterone production. We can still have periods without ovulating every cycle, but if we don’t ovulate we don’t produce progesterone.

Causes of low progesterone include:

  • Stress

  • Thyroid problems

  • PCOS, diabetes and blood sugar problems

  • Gut health problems

  • Over-exercising

  • Age


It's not a good time to get pregnant when you’re in fight or flight, so if you’re too stressed, the body stops you from ovulating. Secondly, the body steals from progesterone to make cortisol. So we can actually deplete our own progesterone levels to keep burning the candle at both ends.

Thyroid problems

Thyroid problems can stop us from ovulating and producing progesterone. Conversely, giving back progesterone makes the thyroid function more effectively.

PCOS, diabetes and blood sugar problems

These conditions can lead to raised insulin. This can interfere with luteinising hormone production, which is needed for us to ovulate.

Gut health problems and subsequent poor absorption of nutrients 

This can stop us from ovulating. Another way that gut health can contribute to a relative progesterone insufficiency is through gut bacteria that modulate oestrogen levels (the estrobolome).

Over-exercising or over-training

This can deplete cortisol levels, and then we steal from progesterone to make cortisol.  Being underweight causes the body to think it’s in hibernation mode. For more information, please read our article on the 5 amazing ways progesterone helps weight loss.


Progesterone levels decline years before we are actually in perimenopause. Rather shockingly early actually. Progesterone levels can begin declining in your late 20s, decrease after 30, and are nearly nonexistent by menopause.

Low progesterone treatment

Since progesterone is a hormone, there are no foods which contain it, so you can’t just eat yams, for example. 

But there’s a foundation you can put in place to give yourself the best chance of hormone balance and here are some things that help:

  1. Fibre. As we’ve already stated, oestrogen and progesterone work in relation to one another. Fibre can help reduce oestrogen levels which, in turn, can help progesterone work more effectively. Your body absorbs oestrogen from certain foods — therefore the longer these foods take to get through your digestive system, the more oestrogen is absorbed. Fibre helps improve your bowel movements and makes sure there is less time for oestrogen to be absorbed into your system. Foods which are high in fibre include oats, flaxseed and quinoa.

  2. Nutrient-dense foods. With a focus on leafy green veggies, cruciferous veggies, complex carbs and high-quality protein and fat. This includes eating enough so your body doesn’t feel like it’s in starvation mode.

  3. Blood sugar stabilisation. This is the most important thing you can do. Dysregulated blood sugars make us feel moody and lousy and wreak havoc with our insulin and cortisol levels and can disrupt progesterone.

  4. Avoid constipation. the health of your gut will have a system-wide effect. It even determines oestrogen levels because it plays a role in the breakdown and excretion of oestrogen.

  5. Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep is a stressor that your ovaries don’t take kindly to.

Get in touch With Hormones Plus You

If you suspect you suffer from low progesterone and wonder if you could benefit from treatment, please get in touch with one of our experienced medical professionals at Hormones And You, or browse our range of natural bioidentical testosterone creams. 

For more information, please read our article on ‘what to take to boost your progesterone levels’. 

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