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To help determine the cause of infertility, track ovulation, help diagnose an ectopic or failing pregnancy, monitor the health of a pregnancy, monitor progesterone replacement therapy, or help diagnose the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding
At specific times during a woman's menstrual cycle to determine whether/when she is ovulating (releasing an egg from an ovary); during early pregnancy when symptoms suggest an ectopic or failing pregnancy; throughout a high-risk pregnancy to help determine placenta and fetal health; periodically when a person is receiving progesterone replacement therapy; when a woman has abnormal uterine bleeding
A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm
None, but for women, the date of your last menstrual period or trimester of pregnancy should be noted.
Progesterone is a steroid hormone whose main role is to help prepare a woman's body for pregnancy. It works in conjunction with several other female hormones. This test measures the level of progesterone in the blood.
On a monthly basis, the hormone estrogen causes the lining of the uterus, the endometrium, to grow and replenish itself, while a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) leads to the release of an egg from one of two ovaries (ovulation). A corpus luteum then forms in the ovary at the site where the egg was released and begins to produce progesterone. This progesterone, supplemented by small amounts produced by the adrenal glands, stops endometrial growth and readies the uterus for the possible implantation of a fertilized egg.
If fertilization does not occur, the corpus luteum degenerates, progesterone levels drop, and menstrual bleeding begins. If a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus, the corpus luteum continues to produce progesterone, with the egg forming a trophoblast that produces human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). After several weeks, the placenta replaces the corpus luteum as the main source of progesterone, producing relatively large amounts of the hormone throughout the rest of a normal pregnancy.
Progesterone is also produced in males but at a much lower level. Its function involves the development of sperm.
A progesterone test may be used:
Progesterone levels may be measured:
Interpretation of progesterone test results depends on the reason for testing and requires knowledge of the point at which a woman is in her menstrual cycle or pregnancy. Progesterone levels usually start to increase when an egg is released from the ovary, rise for several days, and then either continue to rise with early pregnancy or fall to initiate menstruation.
If progesterone levels do not rise and fall on a monthly basis, a woman may not be ovulating nor having regular menstrual periods. This may be a cause of infertility.
If levels do not rise normally during an early pregnancy, the pregnancy may be ectopic and/or may be failing. If serial measurements do not show increasing progesterone levels over time, there may be problems with the viability of the placenta and fetus.
Low levels of progesterone may be associated with:
Increased progesterone levels are seen occasionally with:
Levels of progesterone will be naturally higher during pregnancies that involve multiples (twins, triplets, etc.) than those in which there is only one fetus.
Taking estrogen and progesterone supplements can affect results.
While men have small amounts of progesterone in their blood, progesterone is usually not tested in men, unless specific adrenal diseases are suspected. Progesterone does not have an established role in males.
Yes. Progesterone (in the synthetic form progestin) is often used in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal women who still have their uterus and is used in some contraceptive pills. (For more information on the benefits and risks of HRT, talk to your health practitioner and see the related websites under Related Content below.)
Sometimes. If you still have your uterus and are having symptoms, such as unexplained uterine bleeding, your healthcare practitioner may order a progesterone test along with other tests and procedures. If you do not have a uterus (removed during a hysterectomy), your HRT will not include progesterone and it will not need to be checked.
Sources Used in Current Review
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(2017 January 31, Updated). How is infertility diagnosed? National Institutes of Health Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Available online at https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/infertility/conditioninfo/diagnosed. Accessed on 07/07/18.
Bayrak-Toydemir, P. et. al. (2018 March, Updated). Infertility. ARUP Consult. Available online at https://arupconsult.com/content/infertility. Accessed on 07/07/18.
(© 1995–2018). Progesterone. Mayo Clinic Mayo Medical Laboratories. Available online at https://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/8141. Accessed on 07/07/18.
(2017 October). FAQ Evaluating Infertility. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Available online at https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Evaluating-Infertility. Accessed on 07/07/18.
(© 2018). What is Progesterone? Hormone Health Network. Available online at https://www.hormone.org/hormones-and-health/hormones/progesterone. Accessed on 07/07/18.
Pinkerton, J. (2017 September). Amenorrhea. Merck Manual Professional Version. Available online at https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/menstrual-abnormalities/amenorrhea. Accessed on 07/07/18.
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