Clients come to me asking ‘why am I irritated all the time? Why do I wake up at 3am worrying about something silly? I feel overwhelmed all the time, is something wrong with me?’ It’s not just you – it’s low progesterone.
Why do we get low progesterone?
Progesterone is one of the two key female reproductive hormones – the other being oestrogen. Although we know progesterone as important for pregnancy, it’s also vital for heart and breast health, as well as being a brain and nervous system hormone.
It helps to regulate the stress response, which means it makes it easier for us to cope with stress. I like to think of it as our own internal source of Valium! The more progesterone you have, the calmer and happier you will feel.
As we age and approach menopause, the ovaries will make less and less progesterone. Some women might experience the effects of low progesterone when they hit their 40s and 50s. But some will even feel it post-babies in their mid to late 30s.
Unfortunately, this is the busiest phase of life for many women! Between children, career, ageing parents, hobbies and chores, there’s a lot going on. Throw in a pandemic for good measure, and many women are feeling the impact of hormone imbalances more than ever.
This is another reason why progesterone drops – chronic stress. When we produce stress hormones, it ‘steals’ from progesterone, dropping levels further.
Another contributor is excess oestrogen. Oestrogen and progesterone balance each other out. So if you have too much oestrogen, progesterone can struggle to keep up and keep you feeling chill.
What are the symptoms of low progesterone?
When your progesterone levels are low, you can experience:
- Feeling overwhelmed easily
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
- Allergy flare-ups
- Autoimmune conditions and flare-ups
- Oestrogen dominance symptoms including weight gain, fluid retention, anger and feeling like an uncontrollable bitch monster!
If any of these sound like your daily experience, there’s a good chance your hormone balance is playing a role.
How can I boost my progesterone levels naturally?
There are some options such as creams and tablets from your doctor, which can make a big difference for some women. But I prefer the food as medicine approach. By eating the food that is optimal for your body, your stress resilience will build, and your hormones will balance out.
Some simple tips for boosting progesterone include:
Keeping yourself at a healthy weight – fat cells can increase oestrogen levels, throwing off the balance with progesterone. Maintaining a healthy body weight and fat percentage can help to smooth out the oestrogen rollercoaster and bolster progesterone
Eat progesterone-boosting foods – brassicas such as cabbage, broccoli and kale also help to metabolise oestrogen and tidy up any excess. You can also boost your intake of beans, nuts, pumpkin, spinach and wholegrains such as brown rice.
Reduce your stress – this might seem obvious, but it’s critical for your progesterone! When I say ‘reduce stress and practise self-care’, I don’t mean manicures and cocktails with the girls (that’s what we call self-comfort).
Reducing your stress looks different for everyone, but for you, it might mean:
- Listening to your favourite songs
- Having a dance party in the kitchen
- Going to bed early
- Doing whatever brings you joy!
Keep your exercise moderate – a lot of women go for high-intensity exercise to burn off more calories and lose stubborn weight. But because intense exercise is so stressful on the body, it can actually have the opposite effect! Your body ends up clinging to the weight, and you feel more stressed and overwhelmed.
Instead, opt for gentle to moderate exercise. If you really love your high-intensity workouts, stick to 1-2 per week to allow for plenty of recovery time.
Sick of low progesterone making you feel crummy?
Are you ready to feel calm, in control, less stressed and able to put yourself first?
Book in for a free discovery call today, and we can explore how I can help you to support and nourish yourself – mind, body and spirit.