There is so much to love about progesterone! Progesterone is a hormone in the human body that plays a huge role in fertility, helps us to feel calm and at peace, and modulates our immune system!
Progesterone and Fertility
After a woman ovulates, progesterone levels begin to rise to create the ideal environment for the growth of the potential embryo. Think PROGESTerone, PRO GESTastion. This increase in progesterone tells the hypothalamus (nicknamed the “master gland” of the brain) to increase the temperature set point of the body. This higher body temperature is necessary for the embryo to begin its development. The uterus gets signals from progesterone to thicken its lining and to inhibit uterine smooth muscle contraction to allow for implantation of the embryo.
Progesterone and Our Mood
Progesterone is so much more than just a fertility hormone by helping us to keep us feeling calm, cool, and collected. It does this by stimulating our GABA receptors. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which means it quiets the body and balances all the stimulatory input we are constantly exposed to our lifestyles. With the sensations of calm, we are able to experience feelings of safety and love. Every time our bodies become stressed, we shunt the building blocks that are supposed to be making progesterone into the pathway that makes cortisol instead. In doing so, stress creates more cortisol and less progesterone making it hard to feel peace and calm. Doing things in our everyday lives that actively reduces our stress, helps the body to create more of our peace-giving hormone, progesterone.
Progesterone and Autoimmune Conditions:
Have you ever heard that people with inflammatory and autoimmune conditions often get better during pregnancy? This is due to the higher levels of progesterone the body naturally creates during pregnancy. An increase in progesterone acts to modulate the immune system, so the body is less likely to create an immune response to the growing placenta and baby. Even when a person isn’t pregnant, increasing progesterone levels through nutrition and botanical medicine can act to decrease the inflammation in their body and reduce the impact the autoimmune condition is having on their body.
4 Ways to Start Increasing your Progesterone Levels:
- Discover what is making you stressed and find a way to reduce that stressor. If it cannot be reduced, find the best way your body can release that stress, whether that’s breathing exercises, yoga, exercise, spending time with the ones we love, cooking, reading a book, etc.
- Incorporate foods into your diet that increase progesterone levels. These include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, cabbage, whole grains, nuts, pumpkin seeds, and beans.
- Increase intake of foods high in Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C as these are both vitamins that your body uses to make progesterone. Examples of foods high in these two vitamins are bell peppers, citrus fruits, dark leafy green vegetables, berries, avocados, salmon, tofu, sweet potatoes, bananas, and pistachio nuts.
- Sleep at least 8 hours every night AND sleep enough to ensure that your body, mind, and spirit feel well rested in the morning upon waking up.