Role of Progesterone in Pregnancy
Progesterone is an endogenous steroid and the progesterone sex hormone plays a crucial rule in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and embryogenesis in women and the female gender of other species. Various hormonal factors come into play during the course of a pregnancy and it’s safe to say that progesterone is a key player. Progesterone is most often known as the pregnancy hormone and lives up to this moniker because of the important role it plays before and during pregnancy.
Understanding the importance of the role of progesterone in pregnancy is of paramount importance for a better understanding of reproduction and how the female body prepares for a pregnancy, carries offspring to full term, and even evolves to be able to feed and nourish an infant with the help of progesterone. Read further to know more about the Role of Progesterone in Pregnancy.
The Role of Progesterone Before Pregnancy
While progesterone is popularly known as the pregnancy hormone, its contribution to conception and gestation starts much before pregnancy. Progesterone and its neurosteroid metabolite allopregnanolone are known to have a crucial role to play in the sex drive of women. It is the act of sex that leads to natural pregnancy and as and when a pregnancy is achieved, progesterone takes on roles of a more crucial nature. It is during the second step in the menstruation cycle followed by ovulation, that progesterone produced by the ovaries makes the conditions suitable for the uterine lining to accept a fertilized egg or embryo. Soon after this, a woman can be technically qualified as pregnant. After the first 10 weeks of pregnancy; the placenta takes on progesterone production with greater vigor.
The Role of Progesterone During Pregnancy
During the pregnancy stage, progesterone has a much larger role to play with a conspicuous emphasis on preparing the female body for motherhood. Once implantation of an embryo takes place successfully and a pregnancy is achieved; progesterone continues to support the endometrial lining and facilitates the perfect environment for the developing embryo. At the same time, the role of progesterone is facilitating changes in the female body to support an infant once it is born. Progesterone has an active role to play in the development of mammary glands that support an infant’s nutrition needs with milk production.
The Role of Progesterone in Reproduction
While progesterone does carry out the major function of creating a womb environment in which the uterine wall is receptive of the fertilized egg and supports the growth of the embryo once pregnancy is achieved, progesterone also has other vital roles in terms of reproduction. These roles of Progesterone are as listed below:
- Progesterone plays a vital role in leading the endometrium into a secretary stage, which is an essential preparatory function that allows the uterus to be receptive to implantation.
- Non-genome signaling by progesterone leads male sperms in the right direction, as they make their way through the female tract prior to fertilization.
- During the course of implantation and gestation; progesterone has the vital effect of lowering the maternal immune response that makes the womb conducive for the growth of an embryo.
- Contractibility of the uterine smooth muscle is decreased by progesterone.
- While progesterone may help in the development of pregnancy; it prevents lactation during the course of a pregnancy. Additionally; lactation is triggered once the pregnancy term comes to an end or right before the baby is delivered in many cases thanks to progesterone.
- Studies indicate that a drop in progesterone levels may be one of the many factors that induce labor when the time is right.
The Effect of Low Progesterone Levels
Often time’s women are affected by low progesterone levels and considering the crucial role of progesterone in implantation and embryo development; this can be an impediment to a successful pregnancy. Under such circumstances, women often depend on progesterone supplementation directly to the uterus. There are various ways of getting progesterone directly to the uterus to make up for inability of the ovaries to produce enough progesterone. These progesterone supplements may come in the form of vaginal suppositories, vaginal inserts, oral capsules that are sometimes used vaginally and progesterone injections, which are the oldest progesterone delivery system. Usually the need for progesterone supplementation is limited to the first 10 weeks of a pregnancy when the ovaries fail to produce progesterone. After the initial 10 weeks, the placenta takes on the production of progesterone and generally makes up for any progesterone deficiency without assistance from external agents.
In conclusion; the production of enough progesterone is of paramount importance for a woman to be able to reproduce. The role of progesterone is vital in the menstrual cycle, to fuel a woman’s sex drive, preparing her for pregnancy and ultimately making her womb conducive for the growth and development of a tiny embryo into a fully formed human. As mentioned earlier; progesterone plays a role in every stage of the reproduction cycle including preparing a woman’s body to produce milk and meet the nutrition needs of an infant.
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