How to Increase Progesterone for Pregnancy
Can you increase progesterone naturally yourself at home? Should you eat yams? Or healthy fats? Excellent tips from Dr Amanda Miller who has helped thousands of couples to get pregnant and stay pregnant.
Progesterone to prepare the uterine lining
First, a little background. In order to achieve pregnancy, a woman must mature and release an egg into a fallopian tube, the egg must be fertilized to form an embryo and the embryo must then implant in the uterine lining.
Estrogen is needed to first thicken the uterine lining. Progesterone is needed next to transform the lining so that an embryo can implant. There has been some concern that inadequate progesterone production after ovulation may be a cause for infertility or increase the risk for miscarriage.
Does progesterone deficiency really exist?
This is not an easy question to answer. Women who don't ovulate have low levels of progesterone but that is not generally what we are talking about when we discuss progesterone deficiency.
Instead, we're concerned about women who do ovulate but don't produce enough progesterone after ovulation to conceive or maintain a pregnancy.
Can you do a blood test to see if you have a progesterone deficiency?
Not really! Measuring progesterone levels is inaccurate because progesterone is produced in pulses. That means that the levels go up and down rapidly. A single blood level may seem low but a few minutes later could be much higher.
Luteal phase deficiency / luteal phase defect
What about the length of time from ovulation until the next period starts? This is called the luteal phase.
You might hear people talk about something called a luteal phase defect or luteal phase deficiency. The normal luteal phase length is from 11 to 17 days with most luteal phases lasting 12 to 14 days.
A luteal phase defect is defined as having 9 days or less from ovulation until the next period begins. However a short luteal phase can occur in up to 5% of healthy fertile women.
I want to emphasize that last point. Just because your luteal phase doesn't last exactly 14 days, does not always mean that you have a fertility problem.
Okay, so determining if someone has a progesterone deficiency is very difficult. Let's say you and your doctor have a very strong suspicion that you have a progesterone deficiency. How can you fix it?
Improve progesterone levels by correcting thyroid problems
First, look for other underlying problems. Do a blood test to check your TSH level to see if you might have hypothyroidism. If you do, then treating the thyroid problem might also improve your progesterone production.
Improve progesterone levels by reducing high prolactin
Next, do a blood test to look at your prolactin levels.
Abnormally elevated prolactin levels can interfere with ovulation but in milder cases may reduce progesterone production. Treatment is easy.
Do yams help increase progesterone?
Can you change your diet to increase progesterone?
Let's look at some examples. Many videos on YouTube recommend eating yams to increase progesterone. However, yams don't contain progesterone. They contain a chemical called diosgenin. Unfortunately, diosgenin in yams cannot be converted into progesterone by the human body. So eating yams or rubbing creams that contain yams on your skin will not improve your progesterone levels.
Does vitamin D increase progesterone?
Vitamin D is a supplement that is commonly recommended to increase progesterone levels. There is some evidence that vitamin D deficiency is associated with infertility and vitamin D supplementation can improve fertility. But, does it improve progesterone?
There is some evidence that vitamin D increases progesterone production in cells studied in a laboratory, but what about in real life?
A 2012 study measured progesterone in young women before and after giving them vitamin D supplements and found that increasing their vitamin D actually decreased their progesterone levels.
Do magnesium supplements increase progesterone?
There are no studies that show that magnesium supplementation improves progesterone levels. However, a study measured magnesium levels in women who ovulate and found that the levels of magnesium actually dropped at the time of ovulation and when progesterone levels peaked after ovulation.
Can healthy fats increase progesterone?
Diets that are high in healthy fats were cited by a number of videos and websites as improving progesterone levels.
While there is some evidence that fats may help women who don't ovulate, this study looked at women who did ovulate and divided them into groups based on the percentage of fat in their diet:
Low, Medium or High. There was no difference in the levels of progesterone produced in any of these groups.
Does exercise increase progesterone levels?
Doctors know that some women who exercise vigorously will stop ovulating. I see this commonly in my patients who are gymnasts, dancers and long distance runners.
A study looked at women who were ovulating when those women started vigorous exercise they found that not only did some of them stop ovulating, but of those who kept ovulating progesterone levels dropped lower and their luteal phases were shorter.
Our bottom line is this:
Be suspicious of anyone who claims they have some easy, foolproof way to determine if you have a progesterone deficiency.
Do not buy any tests that claim to have this ability. You are likely being scammed!
Based on the medical, scientific evidence that is available today, there does not appear to be any diet or supplement that increases progesterone in women who already ovulate.
Women attempting to become pregnant should take prenatal vitamins but there is no benefit to taking extra supplements like magnesium.
Finally, if you are exercising at a high level, it could be affecting your progesterone levels, there may be some benefit in backing off.
If you want to look for natural ways to get pregnant fast, take a look at our fertility supplements and treatments.