Progesterone- A Precursor Hormone
Womens Health > Progesterone- A Precursor Hormone
Progesterone is one of the most important hormones in our bodies and regulates numerous functions. This hormone has a chief role to play during pregnancy and hence it is named progesterone ~ ‘pro-gestational.’ Both men and women have this hormone, but it performs a major role in women.
The primary function of progesterone is in reproduction. It is important, both during menstrual cycle and during pregnancy. The ovaries secrete progesterone during second half of menstrual cycle (after ovulation, i.e., release of egg). The function of progesterone so produced is to stimulate the growth and thickening of a cushiony endometrium (lining of uterus) to nest the fertilized egg just in case pregnancy occurs. However, if pregnancy does not take place, the level of progesterone reduces. This is the stimulus for menstrual period to begin. On the other hand, if pregnancy occurs, placenta forms and secretes more of progesterone, which performs significant role during pregnancy such as suppressing further ovulation along with estrogen, stimulating the growth of milk producing glands in the breasts and in general maintaining the progression of pregnancy.
Progesterone also is crucial in protecting against endometrial cancer (uterine cancer). As mentioned above, if fertilization fails, endometrium sheds during a menstrual period. A regular shedding of endometrial tissue is necessary to prevent endometrial cancer. In certain conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), due to underweight or overweight, regular periods fail to occur. In all these conditions, your caregiver may recommend you progesterone-based medications such as birth control pills to get a regular period and minimize the chances of endometrial cancer.
Progesterone is the precursor of estrogen in females and of testosterone (male sex hormone). It is also the precursor of various hormones that adrenal cortex (small gland above kidneys) produces. These hormones are responsible for regulating sugar and electrolyte balance, stress response and maintaining the blood pressure. Thus, since progesterone is responsible for producing a number of hormones, its deficiency can lead to a number of problems.