Using a combination of natural strategies and supplements, you may be able to boost your progesterone levels to help you get pregnant and stay pregnant.
Progesterone is one of the star hormones in reproductive function and fertility. It helps your menstrual cycle run smoothly and, if you get pregnant, creates the necessary, welcoming environment in your uterus for a growing fetus.
Progesterone also plays a role in getting pregnant. If you’re trying to conceive, a little boost in progesterone levels may help get you to pregnancy.
So if you’re wondering how to increase progesterone, there are some strategies that may be able to increase progesterone levels naturally. Other cases of low progesterone may require a bit more assistance – in this case, your doctor can help figure out what will get you the extra push you need.
Here’s an explanation of how this hormone can help you conceive, and how to increase progesterone to get pregnant.
What is progesterone and what does it do?
Before you learn how to increase progesterone, it’s good to have an understanding of what it is—so you know why you should increase it. Progesterone is a central fertility hormone. It plays a key role in menstruation and ovulation, and is crucial to maintaining pregnancy.
In people who ovulate,
progesterone levels rise after ovulation, during the second half of the menstrual cycle (also called the luteal phase).
ovulation, an egg is released from your ovaries and travels down the fallopian tube. The follicle that released the egg becomes a structure called a corpus luteum, which then starts releasing progesterone and estrogen. The rise in these two hormones tells your uterine lining (or endometrium) to thicken in order to prepare your body for a potential pregnancy.
If the egg hanging out in your fallopian tube isn’t fertilized by sperm, the corpus luteum deteriorates. In that case, progesterone and estrogen go back down to pre-ovulation levels, and you shed the thickened uterine lining as your period. Then, your menstrual cycle starts over again.
If the egg is fertilized, it slowly transforms into an embryo, implants in the thickened uterine lining, and you become pregnant. The corpus luteum sticks around for a little while and continues to secrete progesterone. Later, around the tenth week of pregnancy, the job of progesterone production
transfers from the corpus luteum to the placenta.
Progesterone is often referred to as the “pregnancy hormone” because of its vitally important role in pregnancy. During pregnancy, progesterone continues to support the uterine lining, creating the ideal environment for the growing fetus and ensuring that it keeps developing properly.
Progesterone is also necessary for maintaining pregnancy. It keeps your uterus from contracting, which is part of what prevents miscarriage. How progesterone helps you get and stay pregnant
Progesterone is necessary for conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy.
So, how can increasing progesterone levels help you get pregnant? Most importantly, progesterone enables pregnancy in the first place. Without it, a fertilized egg won’t be able to implant in the uterine lining because that lining won’t be thick enough to enable implantation and development.
Once you’re pregnant, how can progesterone help you stay pregnant? By helping to support the healthy development of the fetus and by
lowering the chances of miscarriage.
On the flip side, if you have
low progesterone levels during your cycle or during pregnancy, you’re at higher risk for problems like:
Some people may not have low enough progesterone levels to be at risk for more serious health conditions, but they may still be interested in learning how to increase progesterone to get pregnant. If you’re looking to boost your fertility, there are strategies you can try in the hopes of naturally increasing your progesterone and optimizing your chances of conceiving.
If, however, you’re concerned about your progesterone (or general hormone levels), your fertility, or potential irregularities in your menstrual cycle, you should speak with your doctor. They will be able to run hormone and fertility tests to figure out if more advanced measures are necessary.
How to increase progesterone 1. Eat a diet rich in progesterone-friendly foods
Progesterone is produced by your body, so it’s not naturally present in foods. However, eating foods rich in certain vitamins and nutrients may help increase your body’s production of progesterone.
Take vitamin B6, for example.
Vitamin B6 can help support progesterone’s role in the menstrual cycle, in part by alleviating irregular periods. This, in turn, regulates normal cycle function. Foods high in vitamin B6 include carrots, walnuts, and poultry like chicken and turkey. Vitamin C has also been associated with increases in progesterone levels. Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, bell peppers, and strawberries.
Here are some more foods that may help boost your progesterone levels:
Broccoli Brussels sprouts Cabbage Cauliflower Kale, spinach, and other leafy greens Nuts Pumpkin Beans Whole grains like quinoa, barley, and brown rice 2. Maintain a healthy body weight
First and foremost, the definition of a healthy body weight changes from person to person. What’s healthy for one person may not be healthy for you, and vice versa. If you’re unsure about where your weight stands in terms of your overall health, talking with your doctor may help you get a clearer picture.
Research has shown that people with obesity tend to have lower progesterone levels during the luteal phase, during cycles of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, and during early pregnancy. Obesity is also associated with higher levels of estrogen, which creates an imbalance in your hormones.
Getting your body moving regularly and maintaining your healthy body weight can help counteract these effects.
Of course, maintaining your healthy body weight doesn’t necessarily mean that your body will begin making more progesterone automatically. It can, however, help bring your hormones back into balance, which is beneficial for your progesterone levels.
3. Avoid overexercising
If you want to boost your progesterone, it’s important to exercise regularly, but it’s also important to avoid overexercising.
High intensity exercise
causes your body to produce more cortisol, a stress hormone. Both progesterone and cortisol are made using cholesterol, so when your body produces more cortisol, it does so at the expense of progesterone. This means that as cortisol levels increase, progesterone levels tend to decrease.
Overexercising can also impact your menstrual cycle, potentially leading to irregular periods and anovulatory cycles (or cycles where you don’t ovulate). This can make it harder to get pregnant.
4. Reduce stress
Like overexercising, high stress also leads to high levels of cortisol.
Cortisol levels can
increase in moments of acute stress, like the stress you feel if you almost get into a car accident, and through chronic or long-term stress, like the stress caused by a difficult job or family situation.
Too much cortisol impacts your body’s ability to make progesterone. When your body is overproducing cortisol, resources it could be using to make progesterone get diverted, leading to lower progesterone levels.
You may not always have total control over the things in your life that stress you out. Still, if you’re able to find time for activities that bring you happiness and make you feel calm and relaxed, it can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Some examples of relaxing activities are:
Reading Listening to music Spending time outside Going for a walk Meditating Journaling Talking to a friend
What works best to help you feel calmer depends on you, of course.
5. Take doctor-prescribed progesterone supplements
It can be difficult to significantly increase your progesterone levels by natural means only. If you have particularly low progesterone, you may need more help than the boost that can potentially come from strategies like eating progesterone-friendly foods, exercising moderately, or reducing stress. (Although, with your doctor’s okay, you can certainly use these strategies, too.)
In this case, medical intervention may be needed, and your doctor might prescribe progesterone supplements, also called progesterone supplementation.
Progesterone supplements can be injected, administered orally as a pill, or administered vaginally as a suppository. Other progesterone supplements include creams or gels that can be used topically or vaginally.
For some people, progesterone supplements are particularly important during assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles. For instance, progesterone supplements used to support the luteal phase have been shown to improve birth rates in
IUI cycles and in IVF cycles. >>RELATED: Do People Actually Use Turkey Basters to Get Pregnant? Everything You Need to Know About IUI.
Progesterone supplements may also
help reduce the risk of miscarriage, particularly in people who have already had multiple miscarriages. How to increase progesterone: The bottom line
The hormone progesterone plays a critical role in healthy menstrual cycles and in conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy.
Low progesterone levels can increase the risk of problems with fertility, irregular periods, and miscarriage. So, what should you do if you want to learn how to increase progesterone?
Strategies to increase your progesterone to get pregnant include eating progesterone-friendly foods, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding too much exercise, and reducing stress. If your progesterone levels are low enough to require medical attention, your doctor can also prescribe progesterone supplementation.
If you’re interested in how progesterone can play a role in your journey to pregnancy, your doctor or OB/GYN can help you figure out how to increase your progesterone in the best way for you.