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Progesterone – what the laboratory value means

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 375 views

Progesterone is a sex hormone that is primarily produced in the female body. Among other things, it is important for the preparation and maintenance of a pregnancy. Read more about the production and function of progesterone, its normal levels and possible reasons for altered progesterone levels.

What is progesterone?

Like estrogen , progesterone is a female sex hormone, although it is also found in the male body. It is mainly produced in women in the yellow body (corpus luteum) and is therefore also called the yellow body hormone. The corpus luteum develops after each ovulation from the burst egg sacs (follicles) that remain in the ovary . Therefore, in women, the concentration of progesterone in the blood is highest in the middle luteal phase of their menstrual cycle . This is around the fifth to eighth day after ovulation.

Together with estrogens, progesterone regulates the female menstrual cycle and prepares the body for pregnancy: progesterone ensures that the egg can be fertilized and implanted in the lining of the uterus, that the pregnancy is maintained and that the mammary glands prepare for milk secretion. Therefore, in pregnant women, progesterone is also produced in the placenta (placenta).

In both men and women, the adrenal glands also produce progesterone, but only in small amounts.

Many other hormones are produced in the body from progesterone, for example androgens, cortisol or aldosterone.

“Artificial” progesterone = progestin

There are artificially produced hormones that have similar effects to natural progesterone. These hormones are called progestins. They are found in hormone preparations that are used, for example, to prevent pregnancy (“the pill “), to treat menopausal symptoms or to treat acne .

When is progesterone determined?

Progesterone is determined, for example, in the case of an unfulfilled desire to have children and menstrual disorders. It is also measured when the doctor suspects a hormone-related disease. These include benign or malignant tumors that produce progesterone.

progesterone normal values

Progesterone is determined in blood serum. The following standard values ​​apply to girls and women (in nanomoles per liter):

normal progesterone level
Before puberty (10 – 15 years) 0.48 – 4.45 nmol/l
follicular phase 0.19 – 2.83 nmol/l
ovulation 0.38 – 38.2 nmol/l
luteal phase 5.82 – 76 nmol/l
After menopause < 0.16 – 0.41 nmol/L
Pregnancy: 1st trimester 34.98 – 140.9 nmol/L
Pregnancy: 2nd trimester 80.8 – 265 nmol/l
Pregnancy: 3rd trimester 187 – 681 nmol/l

Conversion to nanograms per milliliter: nmol/lx 0.314 = ng/ml

In men , regardless of age, normal progesterone levels are < 0.16 to 0.48 nmol/l.

When is the progesterone level too low?

Possible reasons for a reduced progesterone value are, for example:

  • Ovulation disorders (ovulation disorders), for example in a menstrual cycle without ovulation (= anovulatory cycle) or yellow body weakness (corpus luteum insufficiency)
  • Underdevelopment or malformation of the ovaries (primary ovarian failure)
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Hypofunction of the anterior pituitary gland (lack of FSH production)

When is the progesterone level too high?

Possible reasons for an elevated progesterone level above the normal range are:

  • Andrenogenital syndrome (group of diseases with increased production of sex hormones in the adrenal gland )
  • certain tumors: theca cell tumor (rare, benign ovarian tumor ), chorionepthelioma (choriocarcinoma = malignant degenerated hydatidiform mole)
  • hydatid mole (malformation of the placenta)

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