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A progesterone test measures the concentrations or levels of this key female hormone in the blood. For women who are planning a pregnancy, checking the levels of progesterone is essential. Progesterone levels increase during normal ovulation and help prepare the womans body to conceive a baby. If pregnancy occurs, the levels continue to rise as this hormone aids the uterus for implantation of the fetal egg. If pregnancy does not occur, the progesterone levels fall and estrogen hormones take over and repeat the reproductive cycle.

Progesterone and Fertility

Progesterone is the hormone produced by the ovaries that signals ovulation in women. The concentration levels are normally higher when a woman is ovulating and subsequently begins to rise approximately two weeks after the menstrual cycle. This phase of the womans reproductive system is the time that pregnancy can occur. If repeated attempts at pregnancy have not been successful, it is possible that progesterone is not being sufficiently produced by the ovaries.

What Interferes with Progesterone Production?

Although numerous factors may be responsible for low progesterone, the most common reasons include:

High levels of stress
Poor dietary habits and nutrition
Lack of exercise
Certain medications
Birth control pills
Certain diseases and conditions

Peri-menopause (before menopause) or actual menopause can also be a contributing factor. Peri-menopause, which can occur to women as early as their 30s, can cause ovulation to occur sporadically or cease for long periods of time. All of these factors may contribute to the problems of infertility.

Why Test Progesterone?

Progesterone testing involves a simple blood test that may rule out common causes for infertility. In fact, if the first test shows low concentrations of progesterone, it is recommended to test the following month for a consistent pattern.
Women who experience irregular periods may need to test more often. However, if a woman is pregnant, it is normal for very high levels of progesterone to be found in the blood and continue throughout pregnancy.

When Should Progesterone Be Tested?

This hormone will continue to rise after ovulation and should be tested on the 21st day of your 28th day menstrual cycle. If progesterone concentrations remain low at this time, it is possible that ovulation is not taking place. If the levels are high, it is highly likely that ovulation is occurring and other reasons for fertility should be explored.

Related Lab Tests

Other fertility tests that are recommended in addition to progesterone are:  Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH), recommended for irregular periods, egg production and the status of ovarian function; Luteinizing Hormone (LH), measures the fertility and maturation of eggs on the ovaries. This test is usually performed during ovulation. Thyroid Profile, the thyroid gland influences every system in the body, including the reproductive system. Failure to conceive may be contributed to the impairment of your thyroid gland. Cortisol, when the body is under stress, high levels of cortisol may ensue. Over a period of time, cortisol can negatively affect the thyroid gland and other body systems that influence fertility. Blood Type Test, women should know their blood type and Rh factor when planning to become pregnant. Certain precautions should be taken with mothers and babies who have conflicting blood components and factors that have been known to cause serious health concerns.