Progesterone Problems: the cortisol effect


“Progesterone Problems: the cortisol effect” by myMindBodyBaby

Did you know that stress “robs” your body of progesterone?  If you have been told that your progesterone levels are low, listen up, this is for you!

We have heard it before: stress is not good for us.  It’s hard on our hearts, makes us tired, and can lead to emotional eating which often comes with weight gain. Yes, we have heard all of this before. But did you know that stress can and does impact progesterone? In fact, it is a major cause of progesterone deficiency levels in women.  And progesterone plays an important role in your fertility; most notably it helps thicken the uterine lining creating an inviting place for implantation.

So how does stress impact progesterone?

During periods of stress, your body works hard to produce cortisol (one of our stress hormones – a much-needed built-in natural alarm system). Progesterone is a precursor to cortisol – meaning our body needs progesterone to make cortisol. When we are stressed cortisol goes up (to put our bodies on high alert to deal with the demand or challenge at hand) and as progesterone is used in cortisol production, progesterone levels go down!  Progesterone deficiency can result in a thinner uterine lining, hot flashes, mood swings, irregular periods, and possibly migraines.

The stakes are high for those TTC – you are ready to meet your baby NOW and this pesky low progesterone issue is getting in the way.

So, what’s a girl to do?

Managing acute or chronic stress is, well, stressful! Much easier said than done, right?! But it CAN be done effectively.

5 Stress-Busting Tactics That Work!

  1. Meditation and mindfulness: the actual act of meditation or mindfulness can help to relieve feelings of anxiety and stress and has been shown to increase chances of pregnancy success. In addition, the lasting effects of mindfulness can produce a more positive outlook paving the way for the possibility of a new perspective overall. There are plenty of great apps out there if you need help getting started. Check out com, FertiCalm, or
  2. Find common ground: join a Facebook group, lean on a friend or family member or seek support via a therapist. Talking about your concerns or being able to get the issue ‘off your chest’ might be just what you need to move through or past the stressor. If that stressor is fertility-related, our amazing community of women will be there to lend a listening ear. Join our own Private Facebook group here.
  3. Ditch the processed white flours and sugars: in the short term simple carbohydrates actually make you feel better, but long term these can wreak havoc on your hormonal system. And remember, this may already be out of balance due to stress! While it may not be what you are craving, lean proteins and plant-based fats like avocado and unsweetened coconut actually help to stabilize blood sugars and hormones.  And when your body is in a better balance you may find that you don’t have as many sugar and carb cravings.
  4. Acupuncture: I love this for so many reasons, and stress is definitely one of them. It has been shown(among other things) to regulate the nervous system (think jittery, anxious nerves) and hormones.
  5. Yoga: research suggests the negative effects of stress on the body seem to be exaggerated in people who are inactive. Yoga might be a good alternative for those who don’t enjoy traditional workouts. Yoga has been shown to help with sleep and with controlling feelings of stress and anxiety.
  6. Download our free Cope and Calm Handbook – a resource-packed toolkit that provides evidence-based strategies for coping with the fertility challenges ==>  58]

If you have low progesterone levels, consider taking a deep dive into your stress to see if there are any improvements you could make in order to support better progesterone production. But remember, stress is just one piece of the progesterone puzzle, other possible culprits are magnesium deficiency, obesity, insulin resistance, and nutrient deficit. Stay tuned for more on these topics!

If you have been diagnosed with progesterone deficiency and would like more help, drop me a note at!


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