Progesterone is manufactured in the ovaries at about 10-30 mg of progesterone each day during the latter half of the menstrual cycle (luteal phase). Younger women with regular cycles generally make adequate progesterone, consistent with their having fewer symptoms of estrogen excess. Progesterone is important in normal menstrual cycles, breast development, maintaining pregnancy, relaxing blood vessels and influencing neurotransmitters in the brain.
Low progesterone in premenopausal women is more commonly seen with anovulatory cycles, (no ovulation), luteal insufficiency (ovulation with low progesterone production), or use of contraceptives containing synthetic progestins. A lower level of progesterone is more common in postmenopausal women who no longer ovulate, who have had their ovaries removed, or who use synthetic progestins in HRT (Provera). Synthetic progestins are not detected by the highly specific immunoassays used to quantify progesterone.
High progesterone in normal premenopausal and postmenopausal women can occur with excessive supplementation, incidental exposure (e.g., transference from someone using progesterone cream), and/or sluggish metabolism. Transdermal (through the skin) progesterone is well absorbed at physiological levels (10-30 mg/ day). Progesterone results higher than the reference range can occur with topical doses greater than 30 mg.
Note: a significant number of individuals in this range are without adverse symptoms, indicating that a high progesterone level is associated with few side effects. Symptoms of high progesterone are relatively benign and include excessive sleepiness, dizziness, bloating, susceptibility to yeast infections, and functional estrogen deficiency (more problematic when estradiol levels are low/low normal).
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