The female body normally produces progesterone during the month. At the beginning of the month, this hormone is released to help the uterus prepare for pregnancy. If the woman becomes pregnant, progesterone levels will continue to increase. Women who have low progesterone levels may find it difficult to conceive and can make the woman at a higher risk of having a miscarriage. Learning why low progesterone levels happen can help you learn ways to increase your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy.
How Can Progesterone Levels in Early Pregnancy Affect You?
Progesterone is normally needed to regulate your menstrual cycle and prepare the uterine lining for the implantation of the egg. Because of progesterone, your body ends up having a higher temperature from the end of ovulation through the start of menstruation. If you do become pregnant, progesterone helps to thicken the lining of the uterus so that you have a healthy pregnancy. It stimulates the flow of glycogen and arterial blood to the uterine lining so that the baby gets enough nutrients. In addition, progesterone works to thicken the cervix and make a mucous plug so that bacteria cannot enter the uterus. It also works to prevent uterine contractions from happening.
What Are the Normal Levels for Progesterone in Early Pregnancy?
Week One and Two
For the first two weeks, your body produces progesterone levels of 1 to 1.5 ng/ml. You are actually not technically pregnant at this point. Your pregnancy is calculated from the first day of your last menstrual cycle, so you will not actually be pregnant until the end of the second week or later. During this time, your body still makes progesterone in preparation for pregnancy. If you do become pregnant, it will normally be in the last two weeks of the cycle.
Week Tree and Four
Once ovulation happens, the endocrines within your ovaries will ramp up production of progesterone. At this point, your progesterone levels are at 2ng/ml or more. This helps to stimulate your uterine walls to thicken in preparation for the egg’s implantation. Around the third week, the egg will become fertilized. Every day after this, your progesterone levels in early pregnancy will increase by about 1 to 2 ng/ml a day. At its peak, you could reach 10 to 29 ng/ml.
Week Five and Six
During this stage of pregnancy, it is normal to have progesterone levels ranging from 10 to 29 ng/ml. Doctors expect at least 6 to 10 ng/ml for this part of the pregnancy. Progesterone is needed to help nourish the embryo, develop the placenta and stimulate blood vessel growth. Because of the increased levels of progesterone, you may develop the “pregnancy glow.” Other than making your skin glow, higher progesterone levels could cause a rash or itchy skin.
Week 7 to 14
At this stage of the pregnancy, the placenta will start to produce progesterone instead of the ovaries. As a result, progesterone levels will plateau during weeks 7 to 14. It is fairly common to see progesterone levels reach about 15 to 60 ng/ml, but you may have higher progesterone levels if you have a multiple pregnancy. At this point, progesterone will help your body’s muscles to relax and expand for the growing baby. It will work to prevent contractions, but high levels of progesterone can cause indigestion, hemorrhoids, heartburn and constipation.
For each trimester, you can expect the progesterone levels that follow:
First Trimester: 9 to 47 ng/ml
Second Trimester: 17 to 147 ng/ml
Third Trimester: 55 to 200 ng/ml
What Can Cause Low Progesterone Levels in Early Pregnancy?
A low progesterone level places you at a higher risk for an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage. If your progesterone levels are lower than 6 to 10 ng/ml by the sixth week of gestation, it normally means that the pregnancy is not viable. Individuals who are worried that they may not have adequate progesterone levels can ask their doctor to have a blood test. Results from this test are typically available within a day. Women who have had three or more miscarriages within 20 weeks may need to have progesterone treatments to prevent another miscarriage from happening.
Signs and Symptoms of Low Progesterone
A low level of progesterone in early pregnancy is one of the most common causes of a miscarriage. Women who are experiencing a miscarriage will often experience light bleeding or spotting as the uterine lining starts to shed. At the same time, the woman may experience severe cramping and her pregnancy symptoms may start to go away.
If any of these symptoms happen, you need to go to the doctor immediately. Your doctor can test your progesterone levels and check the viability of your pregnancy. Spotting is not always a sign of a miscarriage, but it is a sign that you need to get checked out by a doctor.
Treating Low Progesterone Levels
If your doctor determines that you have low progesterone levels, they may recommend a microized oral pill, injection, cream or vaginal suppository to boost your progesterone levels. You should not use an over-the-counter remedy because they are less effective. In addition, it is important that you only use medication and supplements recommended by your doctor while you are pregnant.