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What is a Progesterone Test?

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  • Written By: Christine Hudson
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A progesterone test is used to monitor the level of progesterone in a woman. A doctor may order the test to determine a patient's risk of certain types of cancer, to assess probable causes of infertility, or predict the potential of a miscarriage. Medical professionals may also use the test results to diagnose certain problems with the adrenal glands in both men and women.

Progesterone is the hormone that prepares the uterus to accept the egg. When levels of the hormone drop off, menstrual bleeding begins under normal circumstances. Pregnant women also produce 10 times the normal amount of the hormone beginning in the first trimester. Monitoring these levels during the first trimester of pregnancy can help doctors spot ectopic pregnancies or simply monitor placenta health.

Fertility specialists or obstetricians are the medical professionals most likely to order a progesterone test. Many times, these tests are used to determine a woman’s ovulation cycle to pinpoint the time when they are most fertile. As with many other medical tests, a progesterone test requires a technician to take blood from the patient. The procedure begins with wrapping a rubber band around the arm and sterilizing the area where the blood will be drawn. The person taking the sample then uses a syringe to withdraw the blood and then usually will apply pressure to stop the bleeding.

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The registered level of progesterone depends on whether a woman is menstruating, how far into her cycle she is, and whether or not she is currently carrying a child. The amount is measured in nanograms per liter, and several tests may be required to determine an individual’s normal levels and when those levels spike. From these readings, a fairly accurate calendar can be drafted for a woman’s ovulation and fertility cycle. Levels which remain low throughout a woman’s entire cycle may indicate infertility issues, and irregular levels may indicate outside factors affecting fertility.

Although a progesterone test is mostly performed on women, there are certain malfunctions of the adrenal gland which may require men to take the test. The adrenal glands produce 50 hormones, and imbalances can cause adrenal fatigue or anxiety. Measuring the production of progesterone with a progesterone test can help medical professionals determine the type of adrenal malfunction and how to treat it. The risk for certain types of cancers, such as breast cancer, may also increase with low production of progesterone, and a test may be able to detect this.

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