Symptoms of High Progesterone

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

If a person does not become pregnant, progesterone levels in their body will fall and this sparks menstruation. On the other hand, if pregnancy occurs, progesterone continues to stimulate the body to provide the blood vessels that will feed the growing fetus. Progesterone levels also remain high throughout pregnancy, and may be even higher if you’re carrying more than one baby.

However, having a high progesterone level may also mean that you have cysts on your ovaries, a disorder of the adrenal glands, or ovarian cancer. It could further 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.

Close-up of pregnant person's belly

Jamie Grill / Getty Images

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, and 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. For example, girls with severe CAH can be born with ambiguous genitalia, and 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.

Other conditions associated with high progesterone levels include molar pregnancy and ovarian cancer.

Low Progesterone

By yours 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, and they can 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 you 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, and results outside the normal range may not mean anything is wrong.

If you are 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.

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 about what may be causing it and whether you need treatment.

A Word From Verywell

Progesterone is 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 looked at through the lens of how these three hormones operate together and how their collective ebb and flow change a person’s body during different times and life events.

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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.
  1. Hormone Health Network. Progesterone and progestins. Updated October 2019.

  2. MedlinePlus. Progesterone test. Updated December 3, 2020.

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

  4. National Organization for Rare Disorders. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Updated 2018.

  5. University of Rochester. Progesterone.

  6. Harvard Health. Perimenopause: rocky road to menopause. Published April 30, 2020.

  7. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Evaluating infertility. Updated January 2020.