PROGESTERONE means "For Gestation"
To better understand the role of the ovarian corpus luteum, see this short description of how an egg becomes a fetus "Journey of an Egg - From follicle to uterus"
PROGESTERONE is a steroid hormone vital to the reproduction process. Produced by a corpus luteum in one of the two ovaries during the 2nd half of the menstrual cycle, by a process which breaks down cholesterol molecules. The ovaries take turns each month.
During pregnancy, corpus luteum continues to produce PROGESTERONE until close to the end of the first trimester. At which time the placenta should have taken over production. Normal production of hormones, including PROGESTERONE, is significantly increased during pregnancy, especially by the third trimester.
Insufficient PROGESTERONE during pregnancy can result in:
• Uterine contractions. May cause miscarriage or premature labor
• Growth inhibition of new blood vessels. Needed to provide nourishment to the fetus.
What does PROGESTERONE do for conception and pregnancy?
PROGESTERONE production/availability is crucial for development of the fetus. A sufficiency of PROGESTERONE production by the ovarian granulosa cells of the corpus luteum in the early stages of pregnancy performs several necessary functions (which could be lacking with a luteal phase deficiency (LPD), where the corpus luteum is not producing sufficient PROGESTERONE):
• Stimulates growth of and maintains the uterine lining (endometrium). Where fertilized egg attaches itself; prevents premature shedding; thickens to a max. 4-6 mm
• Aids secretion of nutrients from endometrial (of uterine lining) glands. Maintains adequate blood circulation, stimulating growth of cells which feed the embryo
• Tempers immune system reaction to presence of "foreign body" :)
- Tempers immune system reaction to presence of "foreign body" :) Stimulate secretion of immune system Th2 and reduce secretion of Th1 cytokines to prevent mother's immune system from responding to fetal antigens and rejecting the "new arrival".
- Overrides uterine contractions. Controls hypercontractility of smooth muscle cells in the middle layer of the uterine wall (myocytes);
• PROGESTERONE up-regulates HLA-G gene expression in first trimester trophoblasts. These cells are the first to differentiate from the fertilized egg, forming the outer layer of a blastocyst, which provides nutrients to the embryo and develops into a large part of the placenta. Evidence suggests that HLA-G also plays a critical role in maternal immune tolerance to the fetus;
• Prepares breasts for milk production
• Maintains proper function of the mother's organs
• Controls blood pressure in later pregnancy. Higher serum concentrations of PROGESTERONE (but not ESTRADIOL) in early pregnancy were related to lower mean systolic blood pressures in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters;
PROGESTERONE supplementation can aid conception and prevent early miscarriage in women with a Luteal Phase Deficiency (LPD)
PROGESTERONE therapy/supplementation provides a “tool” to aid conception and maintain a pregnancy in a woman with estrogen dominance or whose corpus luteum is not producing sufficient PROGESTERONE (termed luteal phase deficiency (LPD)). Either during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (latter half of cycle in humans) and/or after conception. Supplementing natural PROGESTERONE at the right time and dose can:
- Aid conception. Due to LPD, some women start bleeding before the 14 days after ovulation as the cause of failed conception. If this is the case, using PROGESTERONE at ovulation can help to lengthen the luteal phase. Using PROGESTERONE before ovulation could prevent ovulation occurring and therefore any chance of becoming pregnant. i.e. PROGESTERONE acts as a contraceptive before ovulation.
Significantly lower levels of PROGESTERONE are found in women with PCOS in the early luteal phase which may contribute to their delay in conception. LPD in PCOS may explain the anovulation and miscarriage that occurs in these women;
- Prevent miscarriage during luteal phase of menstrual cycle and after conception. By countering estrogen presence after fertilization. Too much estrogen compared to PROGESTERONE during the luteal phase can cause miscarriage i.e. when follicles ovulate normally, but fail to continue their PROGESTERONE production at levels necessary for successful implantation of the fertilized egg and development of the embryo.
- Maintain sufficient PROGESTERONE to maintain pregnancy until placenta takes over production. PROGESTERONE has many necessary roles in pregnancy - from controlling mother's immune response (e.g. preventing untimely contractions) to providing nutrients for growing fetus. The placenta usually takes over the job of producing PROGESTERONE 10 weeks after gestation (which begins Day 1 of last period) - i.e. when fetus is 8 weeks old.
Other related notes
The effects of Estrogen during pregnancy are:
• Enlarges the uterus
• Enlarges genitals
• Stimulates the milk glands and enlarges breasts
• Increases blood volume by 30% and causes fluid retention;
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