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Monitoring progesterone levels may be quite useful among women who wish to conceive. The physician may commonly order tests to determine this level in women who may be experiencing the symptoms of low progesterone, as an assesment of the patients fertility, or to detect other problems within the reproductive system. Low progesterone levels can have various effects and recognizing the symptoms can often assist in accurate diagnosis and the prevention of the problems associated with having low progesterone.
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What Is Progesterone?
Progesterone is a hormone made and released by the ovaries during ovulation that plays a significant role in fertility and menses. It helps to prepare the body by assisting the endometrium, (part of the uterus lining) receive and maintain fertilized ovum. When fertilization does not occur, the levels of progesterone decrease and menses begin. During pregnancy, progesterone significantly increases to maintain the uterus until birth. If the placenta fails to create enough of this hormone, miscarriage ensues. Women who have unusually low levels of progesterone throughout their monthly cycle are at an increased risk for infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and other abnormalities.
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What Are The Symptoms of Low Progesterone?
Symptoms of low progesterone may be numerous in some women, while others may hardly have any symptoms at all. Irregular menses, including breakthrough bleeding, spotting, and amenorrhea (lack of menses) can all occur. Abdominal pain may also be present. Pregnant women may suffer from toxemia, in addition to the abdominal pain and spotting. Increased irritability is often present in those with low progesterone levels because the hormone is closely related to other hormones that help fight off stress. Those suffering from low progesterone may also experience some of the symptoms associated with menopause, such as the mood swings, weight gain, and hot flashes.
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How Is Low Progesterone Diagnosed?
If the physician believes that the patient is indeed suffering from symptoms of low progesterone, he or she may order a progesterone test. This test is most commonly performed by a simple, outpatient blood test. Various factors can affect this type of test, such as the stage of cycle, birth control pills, and even the time of day that the test is performed. Depending on the individual and the circumstance, additional tests may be ordered. This can often include tests for various hormones such as the hCG, FSH, LH, and thyroid tests.
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Symptoms of low progesterone should not be ignored. Women suffering from this condition are at a higher risk of infertility and can suffer from a variety of reproductive conditions and those that may be pregnant have a higher risk of miscarriage. Those that are diagnosed with low levels of this hormone early on can significantly reduce these risks.
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Progesterone. Lab Tests Online. Updated 26, January 2010. Viewed 30, January 2010. http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/progesterone/test.html.
Female Infertility. Mayo Clinic. Updated 12, January 2010. Viewed 30, January 2010. http://mayoclinic.com/health/female-infertility/DS01053/DSECTION=symptoms.