Progesterone levels and Fertility Progesterone is a female hormone produced by the ovaries during ovulation. Progesterone helps prepare the lining of the uterus to receive the egg if it becomes fertilized by a sperm. If the egg is not fertilized, progesterone levels drop and menstrual bleeding begins.  This hormone is used for many conditions for women including women who are using assistive reproductive technology (ART). Progesterone production is triggered during ovulation; it is produced around cycle day 12 to 26. Natural progesterone facilitates in conception, and the progesterone levels during pregnancy help maintain a healthy pregnancy. If you get a positive pregnancy, the progesterone levels during pregnancy continue to be produced during the first trimester. After the first trimester, the placenta produces high levels of progesterone, and continuing until delivery. The levels of progesterone are about 10 times higher in a pregnant woman than they are in a woman who is not. During a visit to your fertility specialist, they may check progesterone levels in order to determine whether you have ovulated. A level above 2.5 ng/mL indicates that ovulation has taken place. If the specialist suspects that a patient has a problem with progesterone levels or if a woman is having IVF, fertility medication may be prescribed. Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone (GnRH) agonists are used to control the production of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) by first increasing and then suppressing them. GnRH agonists give your doctor more control over the timing of ovulation. That is why you are asked to take the medications on certain days, which is usually cycle days (CD) 3-8. These hormones are especially used during IVF cycles because there is more control over the timing of ovulation which aids fertility doctors in the meticulous timing of egg retrieval. If the egg is not fertilized, progesterone levels decrease after several days.  A sign of low progesterone is a shortened luteal phase that lasts less than 10 days. The Luteal phase is the time between ovulation and CD 1, and it should be between 12-14 days. If the phase is shortened, the ovaries may not produce progesterone, your basal body temperature will be diverted, and the uterine lining will not be thick enough to support a fetus, therefore the menstrual cycle will start over with CD 1. If low progesterone is determined to be an issue in fertility, you may consider naturally increasing progesterone with supplements or see a fertility specialist about medications that will control ovulation. Some studies show that low progesterone levels can cause anxiety. Having anxiety causes stress which will in turn affect the outcome of an in vitro fertilization or intrauterine procedure due to the body sending stress signals. References DocShop.com. (2010).  Fertility Drugs. Retrieved from: http://www.docshop.com/education/fertility/treatments/drugs/ Progesterone. (2000). WebMD. Progesterone. Retrieved from: http://women.webmd.com/progesterone-15286

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