By Dr Elenia Kolokotronis

Progesterone is a hormone belonging to a group of steroid hormones called the progestogens. A steroid hormone is a steroid that can be grouped into two categories namely corticosteroids and sex steroids. As these terms are already pointing you in the direction of what progesterone is vital for in the human body we can then know that progesterone is vital for the body and especially for the female body. When we look at the role this hormone plays for women in particular we see a plethora of necessities its function plays – in fertility, progesterone is needed for adequate thickening of the lining of the uterus where the endometrial lining is preened to receive and grow a fertilized egg. If progesterone levels are imbalanced then we see conception, pregnancy and even the regularity of menstrual cycles will be affected. Progesterone is also responsible for the enabling of glands in the breasts to commence milk production. For women with PCOS (Polycyctic Ovarian Syndrome) progesterone is especially important as more often than not women with this condition do show issues with progesterone as they are often at a higher risk of pregnancy complications as women diagnosed with PCOS show lower or insufficient progesterone levels.

Progesterone is also a hormone that aids a number of conditions such as abnormal menstrual cycles where the menstruation ceases all together (Amenorrhea) certain cancers and a number of conditions affected by nutrition factors such as sever weight loss.

A number of recent studies have shown astounding results in the affect low levels of progesterone have on the mental wellness of patients. The results showed an increase in and higher risk of anxiety and depression. This may be due to a person’s inability to conceive normally or feelings of lacking in the ability to easily fall pregnant causing them to feel depressed or anxious about their fertility or this may be due to a research findings that progesterone may have a depressing affect versus its happier counterpart, estrogen with its ability to increase serotonin – the brains happy hormone. Findings show that although progesterone has a vital feel good affect on brain function low levels of progesterone can cause depression, anxiety, insomnia and feelings of anger.

Another notch in the progesterone family is that a great trial has found that it is vital for treating early miscarriage in early pregnancy. Women who experienced bleeding early into their pregnancy found that treating them with progesterone assisted in eliminating the very possible chance of miscarriage.

Progesterone is also produced in the testes of men. Progesterone is needed for the production of testosterone and aiding sperm maturity.

Either way one looks at this very important hormone especially for women’s health it is very clear that progesterone when in balance is an absolute necessity for our physical and mental wellbeing.

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