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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2016-02-28 (EDT)

See Also Lab Tests

Progesterone is a steroid hormone whose main role is to help prepare a women's body for pregnancy. It works in conjunction with several other female hormones.[1]


  • Progesterone is a precursor to all androgens and is a physiologic modulator of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) production.
  • Progesterone has a number of functions including reducing cholesterol, inhibiting coronary vasospasms, diuretic, enhancing thyroid hormone activity, anti-depressant, promoting osteoblasts, promoting cell differentiation and promoting normal cell death (apoptosis).
  • On a monthly basis, estrogen causes the lining of the uterus to grow and replenish itself, while a surge in Luteinizing hormone (LH) leads to the release of an egg from one of the two ovaries. A corpus lutem then forms inthe ovary at the site where the egg was released and begins to produce progesterone. This progesterone, supplemented by small amounts produced by the adrenal glands, stops endometrial growth and readies the uterus for the possible implantation of a fertilized egg.
  • If fertilization does not occur, the corpus luteum degenerates, progesterone levels drop, and menstrual bleeding begins.
  • If a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus, the corpus lutem continues to produce progesterone. After several weeks, the placenta replaces the corpus luteum as the main source of progesterone, creating relatively large amounts of the hormone throughout the rest of a normal pregnancy.
  • Symptoms of Progesterone deficiency vary and can include: luteal phase defects, anovulation or infertility, breast and uterine cancers, breast tenderness, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, fibrocystic breasts, PMS, mood swings, PCOS, headaches, poor concentration, depression, anxiety, fatigue, water retention, bloating, weight gain, cold body temperature and abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Measuring Progesterone is beneficial in that it helps:
  • determine the cause of infertility
  • track ovulation
  • diagnose an ectopic or failing pregnancy
  • monitor the health of a pregnancy

Patient Preparation

  • No fasting required.
  • Progesterone can be measured in blood or saliva

Clinical Implications

High levels indicate:

  • some Ovarian Cysts
  • non-viable pregnancies known as molar pregnancies
  • a rare form of Ovarian Cancer
  • overproduction of progesterone by the adrenal glands
  • congential adrenal hyperplasia

Low levels indicate:

  • toxemia late in pregnancy
  • decreased function of the ovaries
  • amenorrhea

Associated Tests


  1. Pagana Kathleen D, Pagana Timothy J (2006) Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, Mosby.