So maybe you've been tracking your cycle and you notice you have a short luteal phase, which is generally less than 10 days between ovulation and bleeding time, or you just had your progesterone tested and it came back low. It's possible your doctor recommended progesterone cream and maybe you're looking for other ways to increase your own production of progesterone. Here are my top progesterone production boosting tips!
Natural ways to increase progesterone production
1. Get better sleep
Getting good rest is not entirely specific for increasing progesterone levels but it is important for allowing your body to heal, period. So, sleep is an important place to start if you're experiencing any kind of imbalance and this should be the number one focus before implementing other kinds of supplementation. Sleep issues can stem from an overexcited nervous system, liver stagnation, adrenal imbalance, poor sleep hygiene, or many other reasons and if the reason you're not resting well is unclear to you, I encourage you to work with someone to figure out how to help you figure out what is preventing you from sleeping well.
2. Eat more cholesterol & fat
Progesterone is one of several hormones produced from cholesterol. While not everyone absorbs large amounts of cholesterol from their diet, consuming enough cholesterol and fat is important for hormone balance and the integrity of your cells walls and therefore tissues. Fat is also important for blood sugar balance and insulin resistance, which plays directly into the health of your hormones. Make sure you're looking towards high quality sources of fat and cholesterol, such as egg yolks, avocado, coconut, pasture-raised, 100% grass-fed animal meats and fats, sardines, wild salmon, anchovies, and oils from things like olive, coconut, avocado.
3. Castor oil
The liver processes all of our hormones and helps clear excess hormones from the system. Excess estrogen can contribute to progesterone deficiency and topical castor oil packs are a great way to help support the liver in clearing the extra estrogen. Symptoms of estrogen excess include breast tenderness and fluid retention, often seen just before your period starts. Estrogen disruptors are very present in our environment in plastics and many skincare products and can also be caused by excess abdominal fat and blood sugar imbalance. Daily rituals like castor oil packs on the abdomen are an amazing way to support daily detoxification and promote regular self-care.
4. Seed cycle
Seed cycling is when you rotate flax/chia/hemp seeds in the first half of your cycle and sesame/pumpkin/sunflower seeds in the second half of your cycle to support the balance of estrogen and progesterone, which is the foundation for a healthy menstrual cycle and fertility. I often add fish oils and evening primrose oil and sometimes homeopathic remedies throughout the cycle to additionally support hormone rhythms throughout the month. It's amazing how something so simple and cost effective can be so effective in correcting hormone imbalance.
5. Vitamin B6
This B vitamin is essential in the production of the corpus luteum, which is formed in the ovary after ovulation. The corpus luteum then releases progesterone, which is why progesterone is higher in the second half of your cycle, after ovulation. Foods high in B6 include liver, all animal meat, salmon, eggs, avocado and pistachios. I rarely supplement B6 alone and generally recommend a B-complex to make sure those vitamins are being consumed in balance.
Vitex agnus castus, or Chaste Tree, is a wonderful hormone balancing herb for women. It works by increasing Lutenizing Hormone (LH), which is required to stimulate ovulation, which then helps increase the release of production and release of progesterone from the ovaries. Vitex also reduces prolactin levels, which is a hormone that can effect progesterone levels. Just to create realistic expectations, Vitex can take some time to be effective so long-term use is generally required.
Think you might need more support?
If you think you could benefit from some guidance in working to balance your hormones, improving your fertility, dealing with infertility, PCOS or whatever symptoms you're experiencing that you think may be hormone related, I'd love to work with you. I see patients in Bend, OR and work with people long-distance as well. Click here to learn how to become a patient.
Photo by Andressa Voltolini