Progesterone plays an integral role in women’s general and reproductive health. However, progesterone levels can drop as a result of poor ovary function and naturally during menopause.1 Read on to learn how you can increase your progesterone levels naturally.
Symptoms of Low Progesterone
The lack of progesterone production during menopause results in a variety of potential symptoms.2 Some common signs and symptoms of menopause brought on by low progesterone may include:
- Abnormal menstrual periods
- Late or missed periods
- Infertility issues
- Weight gain
- A reduced sex drive
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
Natural Over-the-Counter Progesterone Supplements
Natural supplements for increasing progesterone are usually made from either soybeans or extracts of Dioscorea villosa, a type of inedible wild yam. These supplements come in two forms: topical creams and pills.
Topical Progesterone Creams
Topical progesterone creams are easy to use and typically applied to the arms, wrists, stomach, or thighs. The cream gets absorbed into the skin and enters the bloodstream to increase progesterone.
Researchers believe that topical creams are more effective at increasing progesterone than pills and more efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream. Studies have found that topical creams used in conjunction with transdermal estrogen significantly increased progesterone levels and reduced menopausal symptoms.4
Pills and Suppositories
Natural pills may also help to modulate progesterone levels. However, oral progesterone is easily broken down by the liver, which can reduce its availability in the bloodstream.5 Therefore, a higher dose is required to achieve the same results as transdermal application.
An alternative to pills is vaginal suppositories, which deliver progesterone directly through the vaginal lining.6
Foods to Increase Progesterone Levels
Foods generally do not contain progesterone, but some contain nutrients that may support natural progesterone production.
Also known as pyridoxine, vitamin B6 plays a role in proper liver function, which is integral to balanced hormone levels. A systematic review of nine published trials suggests that serving sizes of up to 100 mg per day of vitamin B6 may be beneficial in reducing premenstrual symptoms.7 Some common foods that are rich in vitamin B6 include:
Zinc is an essential mineral that contributes to a healthy immune system and the production of proteins and DNA. Some studies suggest that zinc may play a role in pregnancy, fertility, and the metabolism of progesterone, estrogen, and androgen hormones.8 Foods known to be high in zinc include:
- Kidney beans
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is best known for its role in the immune system, but studies show that vitamin C supplementation may help to increase serum progesterone levels, though the exact mechanisms and serving sizes still require further study.9 Some vitamin C-rich foods include:
- Bell peppers
- Chili peppers
- Dark leafy greens
Chasteberry has historically been used to support reproductive issues. Some studies have found that chasteberry may help to prevent female reproductive disorders while supporting menstrual health. This suggests that chasteberry may help to regulate hormonal function, including that of progesterone.10
Evening Primrose Oil
In a six-week randomized trial, 56 menopausal women were provided with an oral placebo or 500 mg of evening primrose. The results of the study showed that evening primrose significantly reduced hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, suggesting its potential to regulate hormonal activity.11
Studies show that black cohosh may help to reduce the severity of various menopausal symptoms. The exact mechanisms still require further study, but researchers suggest several theories, such as its role as an estrogen receptor modulator, its potential effect on serotonergic pathways, and its potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.12
Red clover has been shown in studies to potentially increase progesterone signaling.13 It may also help to reduce menopausal symptoms while improving triglyceride levels and general vaginal function.14
Lifestyle Changes to Improve Progesterone Levels
Along with supplements and foods, small changes to your lifestyle may help to regulate your progesterone levels.
Manage Your Stress
While occasional stress is normal, chronic stress can have a serious impact on your health. Stress results in the production of stress hormones, namely cortisol. Learn to manage and relieve your stress in healthy and constructive ways, like meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Higher body weights may lead to a higher production of hormones like estrogen and testosterone which cause an imbalance with progesterone. While a healthy weight does not exclude you from low progesterone levels, it can still go a long way to balancing your hormone levels.
Moderate exercise can help to reduce stress and managing your body weight, and it’s an essential part of healthy living in general. However, exercising too much can actually cause menstrual cycles to stop and low progesterone levels. You should by all means maintain a regular exercise regimen, but don’t overdo it.
Maintain a Healthy Sleep Schedule
Menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes and night sweats, can exacerbate sleep issues, causing a vicious cycle of bad sleep. Try to practice healthy sleep hygiene and maintain seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Talk to your doctor to determine good techniques or supplements that may help you sleep better.
Supplements and certain foods may help to support progesterone levels naturally. This may help fertility and symptoms of menopause while promoting better overall health. Consider using a progesterone cream like DrFormulas Progester-ONE Cream, to increase progesterone levels and maintain hormonal balance.