Symptoms of High Progesterone

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Progesterone is a hormone that is responsible for preparing the endometrium, the membrane that lines the uterus, for pregnancy. Progesterone levels rise after ovulation, the release of an egg from the ovaries. High progesterone is usually associated with the time just before your period or during pregnancy.

If a person does not become pregnant, progesterone levels in their body will fall and this sparks menstruation. If pregnancy occurs, progesterone continues to stimulate the body to provide the blood vessels that will feed the growing fetus. 

Symptoms of High Progesterone - Illustration by Michela Buttignol

Verywell / Michela Buttignol

Progesterone levels also remain high throughout pregnancy and may be even higher if you’re carrying more than one baby.

However, a high progesterone level may also happen with ovarian cysts, a disorder of the adrenal glands, or ovarian cancer. It could also be a sign of a molar pregnancy, where abnormal cells grow in the placenta.

Symptoms of high progesterone levels may be hard to define since you may associate them with your period or pregnancy instead.

This article discusses the symptoms of high progesterone and when to see a doctor.

Frequent Symptoms

The increase in progesterone as your body prepares for fertilization is linked to symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome or PMS, including:

  • Breast swelling
  • Breast tenderness
  • Bloating
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Low libido (sex drive)
  • Weight gain

Complications

High progesterone alone does not cause health complications, but it is a sign that something else is elevating your levels.

High levels of progesterone can occur in a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). This rare disease affects the adrenal glands, the small glands on top of the kidneys that produce hormones. It is the result of a missing enzyme, 21-hydroxylase. 

CAH throws off the balance of hormone production (under- or overproduction) and can cause greater male trait expression. 

Girls with severe CAH can be born with ambiguous genitalia. For example, the clitoris may be larger than usual to look like a small penis while the labia fuses to look like a scrotum.

People with milder forms of the condition may have early signs of puberty or fertility problems.

How Common Is Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia?

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (21-hydroxylase deficiency type) affects approximately one in 10,000 to one in 15,000 people in the United States and Europe. Babies born in the United States are screened for this type of hyperplasia.

Another condition associated with high progesterone is a molar pregnancy. This happens when the embryo doesn't form correctly and the placenta grows into a noncancerous tumor. High progesterone may also be associated with ovarian cancer.

Low Progesterone

By your 30s, you’re more likely to worry about having low progesterone than having high progesterone. That’s because your levels naturally decline over time, which can cause high estrogen levels.

Symptoms of low progesterone can signal the start of perimenopause or the time around menopause. The symptoms can also mimic those of menopause.

When to See a Doctor

No matter your age, whenever you feel your hormonal balance is off, you should call your doctor. Your doctor will know what tests to order and what to advise based on your concerns.

The only way to know if you have high progesterone is to see your doctor and get a blood test. Note, however, that hormones are constantly fluctuating. Results outside the normal range may not mean anything is wrong.

Call your doctor if you're older than 35 and having problems conceiving after six months of trying or are experiencing miscarriages. It doesn’t automatically mean there’s an issue with your progesterone production. However, it is something you should have checked. Problems with ovulation are a common cause of infertility.

Recap

Call your doctor if you feel anything is wrong with your hormonal balance. Also, let your doctor know if you're older than 35 and having trouble getting pregnant after six months of trying.

Summary

High progesterone is often not something to worry about because your levels rise naturally before your period and during pregnancy. However, sometimes it could be a sign of an underlying condition. If you have high progesterone symptoms and are not pregnant, talk to your doctor. They can help you figure out what may be causing it and whether you need treatment.

A Word From Verywell

Progesterone is a powerful hormone, but it doesn’t act alone. Together with estrogen and testosterone, it creates a unique landscape of changing levels throughout your menstrual cycle.

Any symptoms should be looked in relation to how these three hormones operate together. Their collective ebb and flow change your body during different times and life events.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How are progesterone levels tested?

    Blood work can measure progesterone levels. Levels of progesterone vary throughout the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. Testing may need to occur on certain days and may need to be repeated. 

  • What causes high progesterone in females?

    Higher than normal progesterone levels can be due to pregnancy with multiple babies, ovarian cysts, a molar pregnancy, an adrenal gland disorder, or ovarian cancer. 

  • What are symptoms of high progesterone levels?

    Progesterone levels begin to rise after ovulation through the end of the menstrual cycle. Symptoms of high progesterone are similar to premenstrual syndrome and can include anxiety and agitation, blasting, breast swelling and tenderness, depression, fatigue, and weight gain. 

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7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. MedlinePlus. Progesterone test.

  3. National Library of Medicine. 21-hydroxylase deficiency.

  4. National Organization for Rare Disorders. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

  5. University of Rochester. Progesterone.

  6. Harvard Health. Perimenopause: rocky road to menopause.

  7. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Evaluating infertility.