Today we learn about progesterone, pregnanediol and the home-test kit Proov with Dr. Amy Beckley. Amy shares her story about trying to conceive, confronting the medical community, and developing a test that puts power back in women’s hands. Amy does medical research and is a PharmD, so she was no dummy when it came to what was going on in her own body. Unfortunately, the doctors she began working with did not see things the same way.
After a miscarriage and IVF, Amy found a doctor that was willing to work alongside her on her journey. She began using progesterone supplement medications including Prometrium and Crinone. She had her progesterone tested on day 21 of her cycle, knowing full well that not all women ALWAYS ovulate on time.
**PSA** NOT EVERY WOMAN OVULATES ON DAY 14 EVERY MONTH**
This means that a day 21 progesterone doesn’t always reflect your body’s real progesterone potential.
Ovulation is more than just releasing an egg. Yes, it does include the releasing of an egg, but healthy ovulation also supports and prepares the body for pregnancy. Progesterone is an important part of that. It is possible to ovulate, and then have something called “luteal phase defect” where your corpus luteum DOES make enough progesterone… just not for long enough. This can make it to where the embryo does not implant properly due to a drop off in progesterone too early. This is what Amy experienced when she was in the midst of her fertility struggles. Hence the progesterone medications we mentioned earlier in the episode.
This is why Amy and her team invented Proov! Proov is a home-based urine test that measures progesterone metabolite in your urine. Amy recommends using her test by checking your “implantation window”. That’s the period of time about 7-10 days AFTER you ovulate to see if you are still making enough progesterone to support a pregnancy. Amy recommends measuring progestoerone with the PROOV strips during the implantation window for several cycles in a row to get some real data as to how your body is functioning.
Amy’s PROOV test is the ONLY test that works this way! This test is not designed to replace doctors, but instead to allow women to have better guided questions for her doc, and to get her in sooner when there is a problem. Insert: PROOV urine test. Ta-da!
A positive PROOV test means your body made enough progesterone to support a normal pregnancy. It doesn’t ONLY check whether or not you ovulated, but whether or not you sufficiently ovulated. If you’re not making enough progesterone at the right times, it’s not a sufficient ovulation to sustain a pregnancy. Until the embryo implants and the placenta begins making progesterone of its own, the pregnancy depends on the progesterone made by the mother’s corpus luteum for survival. Amy’s pregnancies were ending because her corpus luteum didn’t make progesterone for long enough.
Diet has a HUGE impact on progesterone production, but not everyone has time or capacity to make diet changes while trying to manage these fertility struggles. It can take up to a year to get your body back to hormonal balance! Some women just don’t have that kind of time. Some women prefer to use progesterone medications while beginning diet and lifestyle changes.
Birth control pills are different from natural progesterone. We recommend using natural, micronized progesterone that is bio-identical. These are words you can use with your doctor when discussing what medications to consider. Use an oral or intervaginal medication and NOT a skin cream. Using a skin cream takes up to 10 days to work, too long for women trying to get pregnant! The creams are good for menopause, but not good for women who are of reproductive age.
So, what else does progesterone do besides support a healthy pregnancy? Should women who are not currently TTC or women who have completed their families care about progesterone? Amy gives us a resounding YES! In fact, PMS symptoms are often experienced because of what Amy describes as a “progesterone crash”. Meaning, the progesterone your body makes drops off way too quickly before your period starts. This is often what causes headaches, acne, and bloating pre-period.
Depression and anxiety are linked to low progesterone. Low energy can be linked to low progesterone too. Perimenopausal symptoms are often a result of low progesterone.
Caitlin and Sophia both have nice rants about birth control pills. Enjoy that.
So, what are some food solutions to progesterone malfunctions?? I’m so glad you asked.
- Seed cycling. We did a whole episode on this! Give it a listen
- Inflammation in your body – for Amy it was dairy. She needed to lay off the dairy and it caused her many issues. Maybe go through a guided elimination diet to see what is mucking up your system
- Zinc – a building block for hormones
- B6 – another important nutrient for hormone production
- Healthy Fats – hormones are made of FAT! If you don’t eat enough fat you won’t be able to build hormones.
Here are some of Amy’s herbal recommendations:
- Vitex – also known as chaste tree berry. She recommends women take it all cycle long to support a strong LH surge before ovulation and enough progesterone post-ovulation
- DIM – diindolymethane. This especially helps women who have low progesterone due to high estrogen. WARNING! This can make your symptoms worse if that’s not your specific problem.
DIM is made from cruciferous veggies like cabbage and brussels sprouts. Caitlin and Sophia recommend that you add more of these kinds of veggies into your diet for many reasons.
Remember, taking the wrong thing can make symptoms worse. Not to mention waste your time and money. There are a lot of fertility supplements out there, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s important to work with a professional when dealing with these substances!
Now let’s talk about progesterone and STRESS, aka Cortisol! We believe that the menstrual cycle is the 5th vital sign. It’s the last in line of vital functions, so your body steals things from your menstrual cycle in order to keep the other vital organs functioning. Reducing your stress by having a better mindset about stress and conception helps your body cope. Stop “trying to relax”, it’s a paradox! Instead, start to see stress in a positive light and a valuable part of your journey.
PROOV test is also working to educate consumers about progesterone. In our world, there is nothing better than helping people achieve a healthy pregnancy with a happy baby. The success stories really warm our hearts. If you have a success story, we want to hear it! Seeing those positive pregnancy tests is so worth it!
PROOV test also lets you pinpoint ovulation. If you have any questions, you can use their contact list on the test to reach out and ask a professional, or you can use their private facebook group. Really the only way to know when you ovulate is to test. If you REALLY don’t know, you can start with PROOV strips on day 18 and keep testing and testing and testing until you get a positive. Amy also recommends you get some regular ol’ ovulation test strips that measure LH surges and use those. They’re cheaper. However, some women with PCOS often do not ever test positive on LH ovulation strip. For those women, Amy recommends you go with checking your cervical mucus. Start testing about 7-10 days after you’ve had that rich, egg-whitey, slippary mucus to see if ovulation in fact DID occur after all.
I mean, even if you don’t have PCOS, knowing your body and having sex when you have the fertile mucus, versus just waiting for the LH surge. Sometimes you just get tired of having sex on command and peeing on all these strips! Cervical mucus is your best friend when indicating ovulation. The strips are just meant to supplement your knowledge of your own body.
The PROOV test is designed to be used like a pregnancy or ovulation test. However, PROOV is different because a positive test has only one line, while the negative has two lines. This is the opposite of pregnancy and ovulation test strips. It sets it apart! Amy recommends you test your first morning urine, just like a pregnancy test. Progesterone is fat soluble, so you make it in the day and metabolize it at night. This means that your urine test in the morning will give the most accurate result. If don’t get 3-4 positive test days in a row, it’s time to bring these results to a professional and talk about treatment options.
You can buy these strips on Amazon, of course, but you can also buy it through the PROOV website. Amy is smart, if you didn’t know that by now. She works with Amazon so you can read real, honest reviews! How cool is that??
If you want to buy through the site, use discount code PROOVIT for a 10% discount! You can also sign up for the newsletter to learn all kinds of cool stuff about progesterone! Even if you order through Amazon, you still want to get on this newsletter chain!
Thanks for listening!