Hormones – Progesterone

This post will be part of a series on Hormones

Understanding the way our biological chemistry works during the perinatal stages is an incredible part of reducing the fear of birth.  It is one of my favorite parts of birth education.  This series will touch on the hormones and how they work with us through the perinatal stages.

Hormone: Progesterone

What better way to start off this series than to talk about the hormone that really starts it all.  What came first, the chicken or the egg?  Well, you be the judge, but this hormone has a profound function throughout the reproductive cycle and without its function, pregnancy will not occur or continue.

Conception

  • Produced by the ovaries (corpus luteum) and adrenal gland
  • Aids in maintaining a healthy uterine lining to nourish an implanted egg
  • Increases the body's internal temperature
  • Increases during ovulation and falls if conception does not occur
  • Responsible for "PMS" symptoms - emotionally & physically

Progesterone typically peaks after ovulation and will fall if the egg is not fertilized and then menstruation will begin.

Prenatal

  • Produced by the ovaries, adrenal gland, & placenta - increasingly by the placenta as the pregnancy continues
  • Maintains the pregnancy & increases with each trimester
  • Responsible for "mood swings"
  • Suppresses milk secretion
  • Influences breast tissue growth and alveoli production ("sacs" that will store milk during lactation)

Labor/Birth

  • Decreases upon birth of the placenta to allow milk secretion

Postpartum

  • Low levels increase depression symptoms by inhibiting the production of cortisol

Nutrition & Lifestyle

  • Nutrition and a healthy activity level (as well as adequate sleep) will help the body maintain a healthy hormonal balance.  With any health concerns, one should always look at nutrition and lifestyle as a priority for their well-being both physically and emotionally.
  • Stress causes progesterone to be used to produce cortisol vs. nourishing the uterine lining (reducing fertility & prenatal health)
  • Low progesterone levels may increase the risks of breast and ovarian cancer (and one reason why pregnancies reduce these risks)

 

 

Sources:
The Female Brain by Dr. Dr Louann Brizendine
http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/P/Progesterone.html
http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/progesterone
http://www.livestrong.com/article/319391-the-effects-of-progesterone-on-the-breasts/
http://www.cbn.com/health/nutrition/DrLen_051507.aspx
http://www.livestrong.com/article/470270-low-progesterone-and-depression/
http://www.livestrong.com/article/319391-the-effects-of-progesterone-on-the-breasts/