PROGESTERONE TO GET PREGNANT – Should you use progesterone to get pregnant? // Progesterone – Is your level too low? Too high? What does your number mean?
I hear all the time from all of you that you need to increase your progesterone levels or that your progesterone levels are too low, and what can you do about it? Well, is it really the case? Is your progesterone actually low? What steps can you actually take that are going to have a real impact on your progesterone levels? Progesterone is a key hormone to maintain a healthy luteal phase in length, and to hopefully maintain a healthy pregnancy, but how much? What’s the right level of progesterone that you need to have to have a healthy luteal phase and healthy pregnancy? These are exact questions that I’m going to be answering today, so you’ve got to keep watching to learn more about your progesterone levels.
But before I jump into that, I want to give a big shout out to Fairhaven Health for sponsoring this week’s video. Fairhaven Health produces some of the best supplements that I recommend for all of you. If you want more and information on their supplements or any of their testing kits, then I want you to use the link in the description below to check it out. My name is Dr. Marc Sklar, also known as the fertility expert, and I’ve been working with couples trying to help them get pregnant for over 19 years through my online programs and right here in San Diego at my clinics.
This topic of progesterone is a topic that we discuss every day and every week with all of them. Seeing how I have created this channel to inform all of you, I want to make sure that we address this topic of progesterone, because the more information and knowledge that you have, the better decisions you can make for yourself on your fertility journey. My mission is to inform the world and educate all the women and couples throughout the world on the steps that you can take to improve your fertility. This is no more valuable than when we talk about progesterone. So, if you want to help spread the good word, make sure that more couples and more women get the information that they need, then a little thing that you can actually do is comment below in the comment section of this video, or like this video and share it so that we can make sure that the women who need this information about progesterone actually get it.
Okay. Now let’s start talking about everything having to do with progesterone. To actually do that, we need to take a step back and understand what a normal, healthy cycle looks like, and what all the hormones are actually doing in the body. I’m not going to spend an extended period of time talking about this, because I have done that in other videos, which you can check out after you’re done watching this one, but I do think this is a good place to just give a short recap so we can set the stage for what progesterone does and how to look at it properly. Okay. A normal menstrual cycle is ideally about 28 to 30 days. In the beginning half in the follicular phase, which is the part of the cycle from menstruation to ovulation, that’s that first half of the cycle, estrogen is a much more dominant hormone. Okay?
In the second half, which we call the luteal phase of the cycle, which goes from ovulation to menstruation, then progesterone is a more dominant hormone in that time of the cycle. It is not so clear cut. It’s not like we can divide that in half and say only estrogen in the first and only progesterone in the second half. We use all of these hormones and much more throughout the entire cycle in different ways and at different levels. But if we’re going to pick a hormone that is most prominent at either one of those halves, then we would say estrogen is more dominant in the first half, and then progesterone is more dominant in the second half, which is the luteal phase.
Since this video is devoted towards progesterone, we’re going to focus a little bit more on that luteal phase of the pro process. Now, we can’t have one without the other. Estrogen and progesterone feed off of each other and help to balance each other out. So, even though we are talking about progesterone predominantly in this video, we can’t also ignore estrogen as we discuss the bigger picture. How does your body create progesterone? To understand that, we actually do have to talk about the follicular phase, because progesterone is actually going to come from that follicle. In the follicular phase, your follicle or follicles, depending on how many you’re producing, will begin to mature over time. As you get towards ovulation, the dominant follicle is going to open up and rupture and release an egg.
We sometimes use the words follicle and egg interchangeably or confuse them. They are actually two separate things. The egg is housed inside the follicle. Okay? In ovulation, that follicle ruptures and opens and releases that dominant egg to hopefully be fertilized and create a healthy pregnancy and child. That dominant follicle actually becomes what’s called a corpus luteum, yes, and that is what emits progesterone after ovulation. When we start to see that rise in progesterone levels, it is coming from your corpus luteum, and specifically the follicle that just released the egg on that cycle. That corpus luteum stays active for roughly 14 days, which is typically the length of time of that luteal phase, in case you are pregnant, to help maintain your progesterone levels should that sperm and egg meet, fertilize and implant.
If you are not pregnant, then that corpus luteum dies, progesterone levels decrease or drop, and you start to bleed and get your next menstrual cycle. This is the normal progression of what happens. Now, if you are pregnant, then that corpus luteum continues to release progesterone, and stays dominant for somewhere between the eighth to 10th week of the pregnancy, when your placenta takes over and you no longer need that to support a healthy pregnancy. This is the normal rhythm of a regular menstrual cycle. So, we have hopefully that regular 28 days, and then depending on if you’re pregnant or not, that corpus luteum will do what it needs to do to hopefully maintain a pregnancy or to not, and then start the next menstrual cycle.
Now you can see why progesterone is so important and why so many people focus on it a little bit, and spend so much time trying to understand if they have enough progesterone, if their levels are healthy enough to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Then it begs the next question, well, how much progesterone is good enough, and how do we figure that out? Well, that is a great question, and I’m so glad you actually asked it. Well, the first thing that we need to understand is when is the right time to test progesterone? An ideal time to test progesterone is seven days after you ovulate, also referred to as seven DPO or seven days post ovulation. You may hear that you should test your progesterone on cycle day 21, and that is true if you ovulate on day 14 of your cycle. But if you ovulate on day 13 or 12 or 15 or 16 or 17, then day 21 is not going to be the accurate data test, and you need to check seven days after ovulation, whatever day that falls, to get a more accurate reading for what your progesterone levels are.
Typically, what we say is that if you have a progesterone reading of nine or 10, even if it’s a little bit lower, it certainly confirms ovulation, but is that sufficient to hold and maintain a pregnancy? I would say no. For me, my preference is that all of you have at least a progesterone reading of 15 or higher seven days post ovulation, or seven DPO, so that we know that your body is doing what it needs to do and your progesterone levels are sufficient enough and high enough should you actually fertilize an egg and have implantation to hold and maintain a healthy pregnancy. What I’d like to see after you do get a positive pregnancy test is that your progesterone levels are 20 or above. That makes me feel nice and confident and comfortable that you’re going to have enough progesterone being emitted from that corpus luteum to help maintain a healthy pregnancy until your placenta takes over.
One way to actually help support progesterone is to make sure you have a strong follicle, because we just discussed your follicle produces that corpus luteum which is going to produce that progesterone. So, if you have a good follicle, a good egg, then that typically can tell us that the rest will also be healthy enough. That’s not always the case, but that’s a good start. I’m not going to devote this video to talking about ovulation and healthy eggs and follicles and so forth. I have plenty of other videos on that part. But we have to look at all the different phases of this. There’s many pieces of the puzzle that can influence and impact your progesterone levels, and your corpus luteum is just one of them, and your progesterone levels in your luteal phase is just part of that equation. It’s not the entire piece of the puzzle.
So, the only true way to know is to test and not guess. I know a lot of us are using apps and we’re looking for dips and all sorts of different things that might indicate how and when our progesterone levels are doing, we’re checking our basal temperatures, and I’m not saying that all of those things are not good enough, but in the end, anyone who’s working with me and part of my hope coaching program, invariably, I’m going to send you, if there’s any questions about your progesterones, I’m going to send you for some blood work, and we’re going to try and do that on seven days post ovulation so we can get the most accurate reading that we can get. Now, it’s not perfect, because your progesterone is pulsated out, and so that can fluctuate a little bit by the hour or day, but we do think that we can get as close to that number as possible, which is why we’ve got a range or a window that we’re looking for. But testing is going to be the most important thing.
While we’re talking about testing, we also can’t ignore the fact that we shouldn’t just be testing for progesterone. We actually want to test for estrogen as well. I want to understand what both of those hormones are doing and what they’re doing at different times of the cycle. If you test progesterone in the beginning part of the cycle, where estrogen is more dominant, we want to make sure that your progesterone is nice and low. That tells us that they are communicating properly. When we’re checking in the luteal phase, you can also check estrogen to make sure that it’s in its appropriate level as well.
One of my favorite ways to actually do this in this whole picture of checking the rhythm of estrogen and progesterone is with a dried hormone panel, often referred to as a Dutch test. I am going to leave a link in a description below to help you get some of those tests. If you want to do the blood test and you want to order it to be done at home or on your own, the link is down below as well. I’m also going to give you a resource to help you do some additional testing for that dried hormone panel so that you can get a better understanding for your hormones how your body is using them, and the bigger picture overall.
Both of those links are in the description below for you. All right. Now we just discussed what low progesterone actually looks like and what a normal progesterone level looks like, and how you test for it and everything having to do with that. Hopefully you learned a little bit about this. I actually want to hear from all of you, what did you learn? Did all of that make sense to you? How do you think that’s actually going to impact your fertility journey? Comment below and let me know. But once you do get your progesterone readings, the most common question I get asked is, “Well, should I start taking progesterone, and what kind?” Look, in next week’s video, I’m going to talk about natural ways that you can boost your progesterone. But I have to tell you that one of the tried and true ways of supporting your progesterone levels is to actually take progesterone.
You can get progesterone that’s bio identical, meaning it’s formulated for you and it’s more natural, okay? Versus synthetic. But the other question is how do you take the progesterone? What’s the best way to take it? Well, I don’t like taking it orally or recommending that you take it orally. It is difficult to digest, and you don’t metabolize and absorb all of it. I do think my preferred way for all of you to take progesterone is either through a cream or vaginally. Now, you can’t just use any type of progesterone vaginally, so that will have to be prescribed to you, and you will have to coordinate with your physician or healthcare provider to make that happen for you. But you can also go get some progesterone creams and you can use those. My favorite place to put those is right over your uterus so that it absorbs right where we want it to go. That is the most tried and true way to do it.
Now, if your progesterone levels are extremely low, then that is going to be my preferred way for you. If it’s just a little bit off, maybe you need a little bit of support, then some of those natural progesterone creams might be just fine. In the end, you’ve got to work with your healthcare provider, your OB GYN, REI, healthcare team, to evaluate your levels, get the right testing done, and to properly guide you through that process. But hopefully you learned a little bit about what it all means, why it’s important, and what you can start to do about it. If you’ve been trying a little bit longer than you would like, if you’re confused about your hormone levels, if you don’t understand what to do about your progesterone levels and you want some additional support and guidance, I want you to know that my team and I are here to support you.
If you want to work with us, then I want to invite you to apply for my Hope coaching program. All you have to do is use the link in the description below to apply and see if you qualify to work with me and my team on your fertility journey. All right, everyone, if you like this video, then please give it a thumbs up. If you’re not already a subscriber to my YouTube channel, then you need to be, so hit that bell to subscribe and get notified when I put out another video for all of you. If you found this video useful, share it with somebody else who you think might find it useful and important as well. Until the next video, everyone, stay fertile.