Why are My Progesterone Levels Low?
| Cecilia Kitic
Low libido? Migraines or headaches? Menstrual cycle irregularity or experiencing premenstrual syndrome? These may indicate that your progesterone levels might need some rebalancing.
If progesterone levels are low, it may indicate disruption of your luteal phase. The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle follows ovulation. Once an egg has been released from the developing follicle at ovulation, the remnant of the follicle becomes the corpus luteum. Secreting steroid hormones, the corpus luteum is a key site for the release of progesterone.
Progesterone is essential for the transformation of the endometrium that enables implantation and supports early-stage pregnancy. Disruptions in this luteal phase, and the secretion of progesterone, is associated with greater pre-menstrual symptoms  and is one of the main reasons for implantation failure  or failure to sustain an ongoing pregnancy.
The corpus luteum lifespan is ~12 days and any time this is shortened, progesterone levels will be lowered. Low luteal phase progesterone is often seen in PCOS and endometriosis.
What Lowers Luteal Progesterone?
There are intricate pathways of communication that influence the secretion of progesterone from the corpus luteum. Two of these that may disrupt levels of progesterone are:
Advanced Glycation End Products of AGEs naturally exist in uncooked animal foods . With heating of these foods through roasting, grilling or frying the amount of AGEs increases. These AGEs ahve negative impacts upon fertility, leading to inflammation and insulin resistance.
In animal studies chronic exposure to AGEs leads to changes in the gut microbiome and increased metabolic inflammation .
In males and females with metabolic disturbance, prebiotic supplementation reduces markers of absorption of AGEs, dampens inflammation and increases total antioxidant capacity to offer greater fertility protection [5, 6].
Increased LPS: The corpus luteum is very sensitive to LPS. LPS, or lipopolysaccharide, is found in the cell wall of some bacteria. When our gut microbiota are disrupted, there is an increase in gut permeability which allows LPS to cross over into the blood stream.
Higher levels of LPS have been shown to shorten the lifespan of the corpus luteum, which reduces progesterone concentrations. Low progesterone can contribute to an increase in menstrual symptoms, or if conception has taken place these low levels make it difficult to support a pregnancy.
Reinforcing the strength of our intestinal barrier reduces the translocation of damaging LPS into circulation and this means better hormone balance across your cycle.
How Do I Lower the Impacts of AGE and LPS to Support Progesterone Secretion?
Nurturing beneficial microbiota with proven prebiotics will strengthen the intestinal barrier to reduce the inflammatory impacts of AGEs, and lower the translocation of LPS.
Promoting the growth of beneficial species:
🌱reduces AGE induced metabolic disturbance
🌱enhances the tight junctions in the gut
🌱limits LPS (endotoxin) translocation
These all lead to healthy ovulation, a functioning corpus luteum to support progesterone balance and optimal reproductive health!
With an increase in progesterone:
🌱our gut barrier strengthens
🌱the transport of immune stimulating LPS from our gut to our blood stream is reduced
🌱inflammation is reduced
🌱premenstrual symptoms are reduced
🌱implantation and pregnancy are supported
Is your menstrual cycle on track?
- 1. Roomruangwong, C., et al., The menstrual cycle may not be limited to the endometrium but also may impact gut permeability. Acta Neuropsychiatr, 2019. 31(6): p. 294-304.
- 2. Shah, D. and N. Nagarajan, Luteal insufficiency in first trimester. Indian J Endocrinol Metab, 2013. 17(1): p. 44-9.
- 3. Lin, P.H., et al., Dietary Glycotoxins, Advanced Glycation End Products, Inhibit Cell Proliferation and Progesterone Secretion in Ovarian Granulosa Cells and Mimic PCOS-like Symptoms. Biomolecules, 2019. 9(8).
- 4. Mastrocola, R., et al., Effects of Exogenous Dietary Advanced Glycation End Products on the Cross-Talk Mechanisms Linking Microbiota to Metabolic Inflammation. Nutrients, 2020. 12(9).
- 5. Farhangi, M.A., P. Dehghan, and N. Namazi, Prebiotic supplementation modulates advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), soluble receptor for AGEs (sRAGE), and cardiometabolic risk factors through improving metabolic endotoxemia: a randomized-controlled clinical trial. Eur J Nutr, 2020. 59(7): p. 3009-3021.
- 6. Kellow, N.J., et al., Effect of dietary prebiotic supplementation on advanced glycation, insulin resistance and inflammatory biomarkers in adults with pre-diabetes: a study protocol for a double-blind placebo-controlled randomised crossover clinical trial. BMC Endocr Disord, 2014. 14: p. 55.