In women progesterone is mainly made in the ovary. The production of progesterone is increasing rapidly after ovulation. Its level is highest during luteal phase especially from day 19 to day 22 of the menstrual cycle. Progesterone prepares uterine inner lining for implantation; it prevents further ovulation and it makes mucus thicker to prevent sperm to penetrate. If fertilization does not occur, progesterone level drops and menstruation takes place. If fertilization happens, much more progesterone is produced during pregnancy by the placenta. During this period, progesterone prevents miscarriage, because it decreases the maternal immune response to accept the pregnancy; it also reduces uterine smooth muscle contractility. It contributes to the survival and development of the embryo and fetus.
Progesterone is also made in adrenal gland under normal physiological condition. It is also a precursor to oestrogen, testosterone and cortisol- an adrenal cortical hormone. Cortisol is essential for stress response, sugar and electrolyte balance, blood pressure and general survival. During chronic stress condition, progesterone secretion is reduced because the body made more cortisol responding to stress using progesterone.
Low progesterone is very common. The symptoms include infertility, miscarriage, spotting, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), breast tenderness, insomnia, unexplained weight gain and anxiety. Blood test will show progesterone level is lower than normal.
Why progesterone level is lower the chance to get pregnant? Low progesterone level is a sign of poor egg quality. Progesterone is produced in follicles (eggs) and corpus luteum which is developed later on from the follicles. Poor quality follicles and corpus luteum will not produce enough progesterone to reach normal level.
Acupuncture can help ovarian circulation to improve egg quality and corpus luteum quality, as a result progesterone production is increased. Acupuncture can improve adrenal gland function and reduce stress to reduce progesterone usage. This will improve the chance to get pregnant.