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2023-09-21 23:33:39

The Progesterone-to-Estrogen Ratio

Hormones are tricky chemicals, and they constantly change as we get older!

The hormones in your body are doing a very delicate dance. They not only impact many of your body's functions, but they also impact each other. Certain hormones have to maintain a healthy balance as they coexist. In this blog, we're going to focus on the progesterone-to-estrogen ratio and what might happen in the case of estrogen dominance or progesterone dominance.

What is Progesterone?

First, let's talk about each of these hormones individually.

Progesterone has a big impact on the reproductive system. Its primary job is to prepare the uterus for the implantation and growth of an egg. If conception happens, progesterone then helps to support the pregnancy.

pregnant woman holding her belly

If conception doesn't occur, then progesterone levels decline and the female gets her period.

Progesterone's Other Responsibilities

The role of this hormone goes beyond periods and pregnancies, though. Progesterone also helps to improve your mood, regulate blood sugar, and keep your thyroid healthy.

Furthermore, men need it, too! Progesterone helps men maintain their muscle mass, produce sperm, and keep their prostate healthy. Plus, it's a precursor to testosterone, which is the male sex hormone.

What is Estrogen?

Estrogen is the female sex hormone. It's produced primarily by the ovaries, but a little bit of it also comes from the adrenal glands and even fat cells.

Estrogen helps to maintain a healthy menstrual cycle, urinary tract, heart and blood vessels, bones, skin, hair, and brain.

A rise in estrogen levels is what causes changes like the growth of armpit and pubic hair during puberty. However, this hormone is vital to your survival long after your body has stopped developing.

teenage girls outside with friends

Technically, "estrogen" is an umbrella term. There are different types of estrogen! These include estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3).

The names sound familiar but they are indeed different.

So, depending on where you are in life, the dominant form of estrogen in your body will change — although much of the time, we're talking about estradiol specifically.

Estrogen Throughout Your Menstrual Cycle

We can take this one step further!

Not only do your estrogen levels change throughout your life, but they also change throughout your cycle.

For instance, consider the luteal phase, which occurs right after ovulation, lasts about 14 days, and ends when your period starts.

The normal luteal phase range shows a short drop in estrogen followed by an increase in both estrogen and progesterone before they hit their peak around the mid-luteal phase.

So, our progesterone-to-estrogen levels can change literally by the day. Pretty fascinating, right?

What is the Appropriate Progesterone-to-Estrogen Ratio?

We've just discussed that our hormone levels frequently change, so keep in mind that the ideal progesterone-to-estrogen ratio will vary slightly from individual to individual.

That said, if you are looking for the appropriate or normal progesterone-to-estrogen ratio for you, consult with your primary care provider or OB/GYN provider. They will look at factors such as age, familial history, medical history, and other factors to help provide you with the most accurate interpretation. 

two girls laughing outside

Beyond talking about what the "normal range" might look like (since the expected ranges can be so different for each human), it can be more helpful to talk about what happens in the case of estrogen dominance, progesterone dominance, and low estrogen levels.

Also, bear in mind that even if your hormones do fall within the expected ranges, this still might not be the right range for you!

The Signs of Estrogen Dominance

As you know now, your hormone levels rise and fall throughout your life. For instance, estrogen levels increase during puberty and pregnancy.

(Side note: This is why, during in vitro fertilization, doctors often prescribe estrogen! It helps with the process of in vitro fertilization by stimulating egg growth, thickening the lining of the uterus, and generally helping to increase the chances of embryo implantation.)

However, when estrogen levels rise and aren't balanced out by progesterone, estrogen dominance can occur. This can lead to:

woman with cramps holding her belly

This is why your progesterone level should always be considered relative to the other chemicals in your body so that you can achieve the right hormonal balance.

What Causes Estrogen Dominance?

There are many potential triggers, including:

hand holding blue pills and a glass of water

What About Progesterone Dominance?

Surprisingly, excessive progesterone levels aren't commonly associated with any specific health problems.

However, just because excessive progesterone dominance isn't a huge concern doesn't mean that estrogen deficiency also isn't. Let's talk about that next.

The Symptoms of Estrogen Deficiency

Low estrogen levels can manifest in many ways:

woman sitting on the couch sweating

What Does it All Mean?

We know that this might all be a little confusing! How can you really tell if your progesterone-to-estrogen ratio is off?

In a nutshell, if trying to find the "sweet spot" for your own progesterone-to-estrogen ratio is too tricky — and you believe that you might not have optimal progesterone levels relative to estrogen — look instead for the individual symptoms of too much estrogen or too little estrogen.

This is how you can start to investigate what changes you might need in order to achieve a better hormonal balance.

The Importance of Bloodwork

If you're experiencing symptoms and want more insight into your progesterone-to-estrogen ratio, getting a blood test is a must!

eNational Testing offers numerous panels that will look into your hormone concentrations and help determine if your progesterone-to-estrogen ratio needs some support.

The Standard Women's Health Panel checks your estradiol level, in addition to your progesterone value, FSH and LH, total testosterone, and DHEA-S.

The Complete Women's Health Panel checks your estradiol level, progesterone level, FSH and LH, total testosterone, thyroid, cortisol, DHEA-S, total estrogen, and prolactin.

Both of these panels will tell you more about your progesterone-to-estrogen ratio.

vials of blood

If you're planning for pregnancy, our Fertility Tracking Panel will give you insight into your progesterone level, in addition to anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), which typically correlates with egg count.

And finally, there's the Women's Anti-Aging Panel. This blood draw checks your total testosterone, estradiol value, FSH and LH, lipids, hemoglobin, and glucose.

Can Hormone Replacement Therapy Fix the Progesterone-to-Estrogen Ratio?

Hormone replacement therapy has historically been used to boost low estrogen levels that have declined due to age. Hormone therapy can potentially help women experiencing menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, weight gain, and difficulty sleeping.

two women having coffee outside

Hormone therapy is also sometimes given to premenopausal women at the onset of these symptoms.

Similar to taking any other medication, there are potential risks and downsides to hormone replacement therapy. Depending on the type, dose, any individual health problems, and how long you take it, there might be a higher risk of blood clots, stroke, breast cancer, and heart disease.

If you're considering hormone replacement therapy, be sure to work closely with your healthcare provider to find the right solution for you.

Additionally, you should check in with your provider regularly for bloodwork. Our hormones fluctuate over time. If you're undergoing hormone therapy, it's vital to know what these chemicals are doing so you can ensure that the medicine you're taking is still the best fit for your body.

female patient talking to her doctor

Managing Your Progesterone-to-Estrogen Ratio

Don't expect yourself to become an expert on your hormone concentrations — that's what healthcare providers are for!

If you suspect you're experiencing some sort of hormonal imbalance and think that your progesterone-to-estrogen ratio might be off, your next step is to order bloodwork.

eNational Testing has more than 2,000 locations nationwide, and you don't even need to speak with your doctor first if you'd prefer to go straight to bloodwork. If you'd like to speak with a clinician after receiving your results, you'll have the opportunity to schedule a follow-up appointment.

Ordering your test is easy, and you can do it online in just a few clicks.

Don't let a hormonal imbalance get the best of you. Find a testing center near you, order today, and get the answers you need regarding your progesterone-to-estrogen ratio!