Progesterone is a steroid hormone that has a variety of essential functions in the body.
PLEASE NOTE: ALL RESULTS AND INFORMATION PROVIDED BY HEALTH eLABS ARE INTENDED FOR GENERAL HEALTH INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. AS SUCH THEY ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR A MEDICAL EXAMINATION, AND SHOULD NOT BE USED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, PREVENT OR CURE ANY DISEASE, SYNDROME, OR CONDITION WITHOUT THE SUPERVISION OF A LICENSED PHYSICIAN.
This test can also be purchased as part of our Women’s Hormone panel.
PREPARATION: No fasting or other special preparation is needed for this test.
What does this test do?
This test determines the concentration of progesterone circulating in the bloodstream.
Why is this important?
Progesterone is a steroid hormone that is a precursor building block used in the production of many other types of steroid hormones, including estrogen. Progesterone also has a variety of essential functions throughout the body, and even plays an important role in brain function.
Progesterone is most widely known as a hormone intricately involved in the female menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and fetal growth. It is responsible for building up the thick supply of tissue and blood vessels in the uterus that are needed to implant a fertilized egg, and then nourish the embryo throughout fetal development.
What do the results mean?
The progesterone level will vary, based upon a woman’s age as well as the phase of the menstrual cycle in which the test is performed.
In women who haven’t reached menopause, the level of progesterone normally rises for a few days after ovulation then falls again, which leads to menstrual bleeding. Progesterone testing in this group is performed to evaluate the cause of irregular menstrual periods or infertility: levels that do not rise and fall as predicted indicate that a woman may have poorly functioning ovaries that are not ovulating normally.
Progesterone testing is also performed in cases where pregnancy occurs, but the fetus is miscarried. Progesterone is vital in maintaining pregnancy, so normally the level continues to rise until late pregnancy. Abnormally low levels of progesterone can lead to undernourishment of the developing fetus, and loss of the pregnancy.
In post-menopausal women who have low levels of progesterone, estrogen may become the dominant hormone and lead to a variety of symptoms including weight gain, a decreased sex drive, mood swings, and depression.
Increased progesterone levels can be caused by non-viable pregnancies known as molar pregnancies, as well as ovarian cysts or some types of ovarian cancer. Overproduction of progesterone by the adrenal glands in conditions such as adrenal cancer, or congenital adrenal hyperplasia can also lead to an abnormally high level.