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Progesterone deficiency: causes, symptoms and treatment

22 Jan, 2023

Progesterone deficiency: causes, symptoms and treatment

The hormone progesterone plays a decisive role in the course of the female cycle. A progesterone deficiency can have various causes and can manifest itself in symptoms such as spotting and a shortened cycle.

The most important facts about progesterone deficiency at a glance

  • The hormone progesterone ensures that the lining of the uterus is built up after ovulation.
  • A progesterone deficiency can be caused by a weakness of the corpus luteum, among other things.
  • The lack of progesterone makes pregnancy much less likely in affected women.
  • Symptoms of a progesterone deficiency include, for example, pronounced PMS symptoms, sleep problems and muscle pain.
  • Women should contact their gynaecologist if they have any symptoms of progesterone deficiency.
  • Hormone supplements are usually used to correct a progesterone deficiency.

period knickers

What is progesterone?

Progesterone is a female sex hormone. It has a decisive influence on the menstrual cycle. The main function of the hormone is to build up the lining of the uterus after ovulation.

If the egg is not fertilised, the progesterone level drops again and the period begins. Progesterone is therefore indispensable for getting pregnant. For this reason, it is sometimes called the pregnancy hormone.

Causes: how does a progesterone deficiency develop?

A progesterone deficiency can have various causes. In older women, there is inevitably a reduced production of the hormone due to the menopause. Apart from this, functional disorders of the ovaries such as ovarian insufficiency can also lead to a lack of progesterone.

In addition, temporary disturbances of the hormone balance can occur, for example, after discontinuation of the contraceptive pill. In this case, it can sometimes take several months for the hormone level to return to normal.

Progesterone deficiency due to a weakness of the corpus luteum

The corpus luteum forms after ovulation from the ruptured egg vesicle. It produces progesterone, which leads to an increase in progesterone levels in the second half of the cycle.

If there is a weakness of the corpus luteum, for example, due to ovarian insufficiency, this results in a lack of progesterone. This means that the lining of the uterus is not built up properly after ovulation. Luteal insufficiency and the lack of progesterone associated with it thus make it much less likely to get pregnant.

Symptoms: how does a progesterone deficiency manifest itself?

A lack of progesterone can manifest itself through a whole range of symptoms. The second half of the menstrual cycle may be shorter and spotting may occur.teen period pants

If the lining of the uterus has not been built up due to the lack of progesterone, menstruation may not occur. In addition, particularly pronounced PMS symptoms can also indicate a deficiency.

Other possible symptoms of a progesterone deficiency include:

  • Sweating 
  • Sleeping problems 
  • Painful joints 
  • Muscle pain 
  • Swollen fingers 
  • Cold feet 
  • Mood swings 
  • Depression 
  • Cardiac arrhythmias 
  • Weak bladder

Diagnosis of progesterone deficiency

If you experience possible symptoms of a progesterone deficiency, you should definitely contact your gynaecologist. After all, besides harmless fluctuations in hormone levels, serious diseases can also be responsible.

The gynaecologist will first ask you about your symptoms and carry out general gynaecological examinations. She will also measure your progesterone levels in the second half of the cycle to check whether you are actually deficient.

Treatment of progesterone deficiency

Progesterone deficiency can be treated with hormone therapy. There are different preparations that can be used for this purpose. Apart from this, it may be that further treatment measures are necessary due to the underlying disease responsible for the deficiency.

Side effects of progesterone deficiency treatment

Hormone therapy usually works well. However, it can have some side effects. For example, it can cause tiredness, headaches and nausea. Some women also get spotting.

Your gynaecologist will of course tell you about the risks and side effects when you start treatment for your progesterone deficiency, so that you can make the right decision together.