Ovulation is what makes progesterone

If you have been told you have low progesterone, you may not be ovulating, or they may be testing you at the wrong time of your cycle.

Symptoms of low progesterone include:

  • irregular periods
  • spotting between periods
  • vaginal dryness
  • sore breasts
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • lack of sleep/insomnia

Women regularly tell me that they have low or no progesterone, based on this they have been told they aren’t ovulating. Well, this may be true, but it also may not be the entire story.

To understand this, you have to understand when most medical tests for progesterone. The typical day for this is day 21 of your cycle. This is based on assuming you have a 28-day cycle. If you have a 28-day cycle you would ovulate sometime around day 14, so about a week later is day 21, and is the typical testing time.

Now, what does that mean for you?

Do you have a longer cycle? Longer than 35 days? Well, if they test a day 21 level, it will be 0 or very low, because either you haven’t ovulated yet or you may have just ovulated and not enough time for levels to increase.

So, what do I need to do?

Figure out when you are ovulating, request a “21-day progesterone level” and then go in 7 days after ovulation.

You may have low progesterone. You may not be ovulating, but if they told you that based on a 21-day progesterone, they may have just tested the wrong day.

Low progesterone is something that is common in PCOS. And arguably we could be talking about low progesterone because with PCOS you may just never ovulate or we could be talking about it because they tested the wrong time, or it is legitimately low after ovulation (which should then be addressed). It should be addressed whether you are trying to get pregnant or not because progesterone is so much more than a pregnancy-saving hormone, it promotes bone health, mental health, sleep quality, mood, and so much more.