If you have read about pregnancy, menstrual health and conditions like PCOS, you are bound to have come across the term progesterone. And other web searches will also show you how an imbalance of it can lead to problems conceiving, irregular periods and more.
But what is progesterone? How does its imbalance affect us? The good news is, there are plenty of progesterone foods one can eat to address the issue. Here’s a look at what progesterone is, foods for progesterone and how to incorporate progesterone foods into your diet.
What Is Progesterone?
Progesterone is a sex hormone, the defining hormone that separates women from men. It is one of the primary hormones the ovary produces, the other being estrogen. (The adrenal glands also produce a small amount of progesterone).
In women, progesterone targets and affects organs such as the uterus, vagina, cervix, breasts, brain, blood vessels and bones. It also plays an important role in regulating the menstrual cycle and in maintaining the early stages of pregnancy.
Some women may take pills to deal with progesterone imbalances, but the issue can be addressed with diet.
What Does Progesterone Do?
It does a variety of things, but related to conception and pregnancy, progesterone does the following:
- Prepares the endometrium for the possible implantation of a fertilised egg
- Supports early pregnancy stages
- Develops the mammary glands for lactation when pregnant
When progesterone levels are too high, ovulation may not occur.
It’s important to monitor and understand where you stand with your progesterone levels. What the symptoms of low progesterone? What are signs of increased progesterone?
Women will have lower progesterone levels prior to ovulation during the menstrual cycle, and higher progesterone levels after ovulation. Progesterone levels peak during the luteal phase, when the egg is waiting to be fertilised.
(Progesterone helps to thicken the uterine lining in preparation for a fertilized egg.) When fertilisation does not occur, the lining breaks down 9-10 days after ovulation, causing periods.
Women with PCOS have low progesterone levels and thus experience a luteal phase defect. Progesterone also plays an important role in early pregnancy as it helps maintain the embryo. This is why women with PCOS and low progesterone levels are more prone to miscarriages.
Women with low progesterone levels will experience irregular periods, low libido, anxiety, waking up at night, bone loss and fibrocystic breast (painful, lumpy breasts). To address low levels, it’s important to eat foods that increase progesterone.
Women with increased or higher levels of progesterone (which generally happens during the last stage of the menstrual cycle), will experience breast tenderness, sensitivity around the nipple area, bloating, food cravings as well as headaches and muscle aches.
How Can I Increase My Progesterone Levels Naturally?
Here’s how to increase progesterone naturally.
Manage stress levels: Chronic stress increases the production of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, while dipping progesterone levels. Look for stress management techniques that can help calm you down and leave you feeling more relaxed.
Exercise: Exercise is important for everyone and it can also increase progesterone naturally. But what’s key is not not go overboard and find low-intensity exercises. (Intense workouts can keep progesterone levels low.). Gentle exercise like going on a walk, cycling, swimming, yoga, pilates are a great way to boost progesterone naturally.
Get enough sleep: Sleeping enough, and sleeping at a regular time, can go a long way in regulating production of progesterone and maintaining levels. Sleep between 9-11 pm and aim to wake up between 6-8 am, with 8 hours of sleep.
Liver detox: Our liver is the organ that metabolises hormones. To ensure the right levels of estrogen and progesterone, you need to support and cleanse the liver on an ongoing basis. Speak to your nutritionist about some natural remedies like herbal water etc.
Diet: In addition, eating a good diet is important. There are a range of natural progesterone foods to choose from, which we have listed below.
Which Foods Are High In Progesterone?
There are plenty of sources of plant-based progesterone you can turn to instead of taking supplements. Some progesterone-rich foods include:
It is a good source of magnesium, which is involved in the production of the progesterone hormone. Magnesium is also known to regulate the pituitary gland, which in turn regulates the production of hormones that in turn regulate the production of progesterone.
It is a source of selenium, which has the potential to increase progesterone levels in the body.
3. Okra (Ladies’ Finger)
Okra or aka bhindi is a rich source of magnesium and zinc, which are essential nutrients for balancing progesterone hormones. Magnesium is required to ensure healthy ovulation, as without ovulation your body is likely to produce less progesterone than normal.
4. Pumpkin seeds
It comes loaded with zinc, which is needed for the body to utilize available progesterone. Zinc increases Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which supports healthy ovulation, which in turn triggers the ovaries to produce progesterone. In fact, in men, it is found to be excellent for sperm motility and health.
Nothing spells Vitamin E like Almonds. Vitamin E acts as the progesterone-sparing agent, as it safeguards progesterone against the toxic effects of estrogen. It basically balances the harmful effects of estrogen.
Whether you are thinking of a planned pregnancy or have been trying to conceive for a while, your diet can make your dream of motherhood come true. To know more click here.
What is progesterone?
Progesterone is the hormone that separates women from men and is the main hormone produced by the ovaries, though it is also produced in small amount by the adrenal glands. It plays a crucial role in regulating the menstrual cycle and fertility.
When should I take progesterone?
You should take progesterone rich foods when your levels are running low. Consult your doctor and nutritionist.
What herbs increase progesterone?
Some natural herbs for progesterone include ashwagandha, rhodiola, chasteberry, evening primrose oil and schisandra.
Does low progesterone cause hair loss?
Yes, it can occur. When progesterone levels are very low, it can cause a condition of estrogen dominance which can trigger excessive hair shedding and lead to hair fall/loss.
Can low progesterone cause facial hair?
Yes, low levels of progesterone associated with PCOS can cause more hair to grow on the body and face. Progesterone is provides anti-androgen effects (androgens are the male hormone) and a lack of progesterone generally means increased levels of androgens, which cause hirsutism.