Progesterone Levels: What’s Normal for Women? (+ Chart)
From regulating the menstrual cycle to supporting a growing fetus in pregnancy, progesterone plays a vital role in women’s reproductive health. However, the dynamic nature of this hormone can make it difficult to understand what “normal” progesterone levels are at the various stages along your fertility journey.
In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about what progesterone is, what it does in the body, and where your progesterone levels should be at specific key milestones. We’ll also take a look at ways you can test your progesterone levels, and what to do if your levels are too high or too low.
What are normal progesterone levels in women?
In women, blood serum progesterone levels can range from as low as <= 0.20 ng/mL to as high as 200+ ng/mL. However, what is considered “normal” can depend on a number of factors including:
- Menstrual cycle phase
- Stage of pregnancy
- Stage of menopause
In women with regular menstrual cycles, progesterone levels tend to stay below 0.89 ng/mL before rising to 1.8-24 ng/mL during ovulation and the luteal phase.
In women who are pregnant, progesterone levels can range from 11-44 ng/mL during the first trimester, and they continue to rise up to 214 ng/mL before birth.
In women approaching menopause, progesterone levels can be sporadic depending on frequency of ovulation. During menopause, progesterone eventually falls below 0.20 ng/mL.
Progesterone is a type of steroid hormone present in both men and women. In women, progesterone is produced by the adrenal glands (located on the top of the kidneys) as well as the corpus luteum (located in the ovaries). It is also produced by the placenta during pregnancy (more on progesterone during pregnancy here).
The primary function of progesterone in women is to help regulate the menstrual cycle and prepare the body to accept a fertilized egg after ovulation (hence its role as a pregnancy hormone). In pregnancy, progesterone supports the fetus, prepares the breast tissue for breast feeding, and helps to strengthen muscles in the pelvic wall ahead of labor.
As women age, progesterone (along with estrogen) decreases dramatically. This drop in hormones is what causes common physical symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, and vaginal dryness.
Normal progesterone levels and ranges
The following ranges are based on figures from the Mayo Clinic Laboratories. Please note that all ranges are measured in ng/mL, which is the measurement of progesterone levels in the blood. This should not be confused with PdG, the urine metabolite of progesterone commonly used in at-home testing, which is measured in ug/mL.
Progesterone levels before pregnancy
Before pregnancy, progesterone levels tend to remain less than or equal to 0.89 ng/mL during the first half of your cycle, also known as the follicular phase. During this phase, progesterone does not play an active role in the menstrual cycle.
Progesterone levels during ovulation
During ovulation, progesterone levels can rise up to 12 ng/mL. It then remains anywhere between 1.8-24 ng/mL during the second half of the cycle, also known as the luteal phase.
Although progesterone is also produced by the adrenal glands, it’s primarily produced by the corpus luteum during and after ovulation. Its primary role during this part of the menstrual cycle is to:
- Thicken the uterine lining, enabling it to accept a fertilized egg.
- Prevent muscle contractions that may be harmful to a fertilized egg.
If pregnancy does not occur, the ovaries continue to produce progesterone until a few days before your period. This drop in progesterone causes the uterine wall to break down, triggering menstruation.
Progesterone levels during pregnancy
If pregnancy does occur, progesterone continues to be produced throughout the pregnancy. Typical progesterone levels can range from 11-44 ng/mL during the first trimester, 25-83 ng/mL during the second trimester, and 58-214 ng/mL during the third trimester.
In early pregnancy, progesterone continues to be produced by the corpus luteum until around week ten, where production transitions to the placenta. During pregnancy, progesterone helps to:
- Prevent ovulation (i.e. the release of additional eggs)
- Maintain the uterine lining
- Support the development of the cervical mucus plug
- Prepare glands in the breasts for breastfeeding
- Strengthen pelvic wall muscles
After birth, progesterone levels drop dramatically. They eventually resume their normal patterns as early as 3 weeks following birth, however this process may take longer in some cases.
Progesterone levels in perimenopause
During perimenopause, progesterone levels can fluctuate. According to Harvard Health, progesterone levels can either drop or spike above their normal levels, meaning they can range from 0.89 ng/mL to 24 ng/mL.
During perimenopause, it is common to ovulate less frequently. Therefore, progesterone levels may be high in the months where ovulation has occurred and low in the months where ovulation has not occurred.
Progesterone levels in menopause
In menopause, progesterone levels typically remain below 0.20 ng/mL. Because menopause marks the end of ovulation and fertility, progesterone is no longer produced in the ovaries. However, it does continue to be produced in small amounts by the adrenal glands.
Progesterone levels chart
<= 0.89 ng/mL
0.89 ng/mL-24 ng/mL
During menopause and post menopause
<= 0.20 ng/mL
Progesterone levels chart during pregnancy
Progesterone levels changes
What if I have high progesterone levels?
Due to normal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle, heightened progesterone levels are not typically a cause for concern. For example, as progesterone levels rise during the luteal phase, it is normal to experience “side effects” that resemble typical pre-period symptoms such as breast tenderness, bloating, fatigue, and anxiety.
Additionally, it is also necessary for progesterone levels to remain elevated during pregnancy in order to support a growing fetus. If your doctor does notice that your progesterone levels are higher than average, they may suspect that you are having a twin pregnancy. In this case, an ultrasound would be required to confirm whether or not you are having twins.
There are some cases, however, where too much progesterone can be an indicator of certain underlying problems or conditions. The most common complications include ovarian cysts, congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), and negative side effects from progesterone medication. Here is a brief overview of each and what you can do about it.
If your progesterone levels consistently test higher than average, this could indicate that other hormones are out of balance too. This hormonal imbalance increases your risk of developing abnormal ovarian cysts. It could also be a sign that you may have an underlying condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis – which may make it more difficult to become pregnant.
If you are trying to conceive and are concerned about ovarian cysts, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor and have a pelvic exam. Your doctor can then offer further guidance on balancing your hormones and potentially treating any cysts.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)
In rare cases, doctors have linked elevated levels of progesterone to a condition known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). In women, CAH can cause disruptions to the menstrual cycle, unwanted hair growth, acne, and in some cases problems with fertility. CAH is typically diagnosed at birth or in childhood.
Side-effects from progesterone medication
Negative side effects of an influx in progesterone can also arise in cases where progesterone is taken as a medication for menopause or menstrual cycle regulation. Some of the most common side effects of taking synthetic progesterone (often referred to as progestin) include:
- Chest pain
- Flu-like symptoms, fever, and chills
- Discharge from nipples
- Swelling of the breasts
- Lumps in the breasts or underarms
If you are taking progesterone as a medication and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, speak with your doctor and they can provide further guidance.
What if I have low progesterone levels?
When progesterone levels are too low, this can cause a number of complications including irregular menstrual cycles, difficulties with conceiving, and high-risk pregnancies. Here is an overview of each.
Irregular menstrual cycles
Low progesterone levels can cause your menstrual cycle to become irregular, which in turn can prevent ovulation and disrupt your period. The most common solution for irregular menstrual cycles is birth control, as this can help to balance out your hormones. However, this may not be a solution if you are trying to conceive.
Difficulties with conceiving
Because low progesterone levels can cause disruptions to your cycle and ovulation, this can make it difficult to conceive. If you have been struggling to conceive but are not sure why, it is a good idea to have your hormones checked to see if your progesterone levels are part of the problem. If so, your doctor can provide you with further guidance on how to balance your hormones in order to get pregnant.
If progesterone levels are too low during pregnancy, this can put the pregnancy at a greater risk of miscarriage or pre-term delivery. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or have a history of miscarriages in the past, your doctor may want to keep a close eye on your progesterone levels as a way to monitor the health of your pregnancy.
Testing Progesterone levels
There are several reasons why you may want to test your progesterone levels. For example, perhaps you are trying to conceive and need to confirm ovulation. Or, if you are already pregnant, you may want to use progesterone testing to monitor the health of your pregnancy.
Women approaching or experiencing menopause may also find it helpful to track their progesterone levels alongside any physical symptoms they are experiencing. Together with their doctor, they can then use this information to find treatments to alleviate symptoms.
So how can you test your progesterone levels? Here’s how testing works both at home and at the doctor’s office.
In order to receive the most accurate and relevant results, progesterone testing should take place approximately 6-8 days after ovulation.
Testing for progesterone at home typically involves a urine test. However, instead of testing for progesterone directly, urine progesterone tests measure the amount of Pregnanediol Glucuronide (PdG) in your body. PdG is the urine metabolite of progesterone, meaning that it is the metabolized version of progesterone that has already circulated through the bloodstream and released as urine.
PdG can either be tested with Mira Confirm Wands or with a Proov test. The main difference between these two tests is that with Proov, you will only receive a yes or no answer about whether or not your PdG levels are elevated enough to confirm ovulation. With Mira, you will receive your exact numeric PdG level measured in ug/mL.
In addition to at-home urine testing, there are also at-home blood test kits. This type of serum progesterone test requires you to take a blood sample with a finger prick, collect that blood in a test tube, and send it off to be tested in a lab. However, with this type of test, you will only receive a yes or no confirmation that your progesterone levels are elevated enough for ovulation.
At the doctor
Another way to test for progesterone is by having a blood test at your doctor’s office. Unlike a urine test, this test will not measure PdG, but will instead measure progesterone in your blood. This type of test is often referred to as a “serum progesterone test”, and your results will show your exact progesterone level as a number measured in ng/mL.
If you have never tested for PdG before, getting a blood test is a great way to familiarize yourself with your hormones and ask your doctor any questions. However, if you need to test for PdG on a regular basis, it may be inconvenient and expensive to test at your doctor’s office regularly. In this situation, at-home testing solutions like Mira can become a more convenient and cost-effective alternative.