Primus Pathology Laboratory

Progesterone Test

Last Updated on July 28, 2022 by Dr. Neeraj Gujar


A progesterone test determines the level of progesterone in the blood. Progesterone is a hormone produced by the ovaries of a woman. It plays a key role during pregnancy. It prepares the uterus for the fertilized egg as well as breasts are prepared for milk production.

Progesterone levels vary throughout the menstrual cycle. Progesterone levels begin low and then rise after an egg is released from the ovaries. The progesterone levels keep rising in case of pregnancy (fertilized egg) to prepare the uterus for supporting the baby. Your progesterone levels may drop if you don’t become pregnant (i.e. egg isn’t fertilized). This will cause your period to begin.

The progesterone levels of pregnant women are approximately 10 times greater than those of a non-pregnant women. Progesterone is also produced by men, although in smaller quantities. Progesterone in men is produced by the adrenal glands, testes, and pituitary glands. It’s produced mainly in the ovaries so it is found at higher levels in women.

Progesterone plays a role in the creation of sperm in men. It prepares your uterus to support fertilized egg’s growth. Milk production is also affected by progesterone during pregnancy. Progesterone levels decrease when in labor. This helps to trigger milk production.

A serum progesterone test can be ordered by your doctor to measure progesterone levels. If you are having difficulty getting pregnant, your doctor may order a serum progesterone test. They may be able to tell if you are ovulating from the results. This can be used to diagnose and treat potential fertility issues.

If you are pregnant, your doctor may order the test. An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilized egg attaches to your fallopian tube or abdominal cavity or cervix rather than your uterus. When a fetus is lost in early pregnancy, it’s called a miscarriage. Both can lead to low levels of progesterone.

Why Test Is Done?

The progesterone test can be used to:

  • Find out the reason for a woman’s infertility (inability to have a baby).
  • Find out when and if you’re ovulating.
  • Monitor a high-risk pregnancy (like ectopic pregnancy). An ectopic baby is a pregnancy that has grown outside the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy can cause death in a developing baby. This is a dangerous and life-threatening condition for a woman.
  • Learn about your risk of miscarriage.

Also Read: Double Marker Test: Introduction To The Basics and How It Works

When To Get Tested?

This test may be necessary if you have difficulty getting pregnant. The progesterone test will help your doctor determine if you are ovulating properly.

This test is necessary to determine if you are pregnant. If you experience symptoms like bleeding or abdominal cramps, your pregnancy could be at risk. If you are at high risk of miscarriage, or other complications during pregnancy, your provider may recommend a progesterone test. 

How To Get Tested?

A progesterone test does not require any special preparations. Your doctor will take a sample from your blood for serum progesterone testing.

You may be asked to take steps to prepare for the test. You should inform your doctor about any medications that you are taking. Your test results may be affected by certain drugs like progesterone and birth control pills. Blood thinners and some drugs can increase your chance of complications during a blood draw. Before you have your blood drawn, your doctor might ask you to stop taking certain medications.

During the Test

A small needle is used by a health professional to take blood from a vein on your arm. Once the needle has been inserted, some blood will be taken and stored in a vial or test tube. The needle may cause a slight stinging sensation when it is inserted or removed. It usually takes less than five minutes.

After The Test

A blood test is not a risky procedure. Although you may feel a little bit of pain or bruise around the site where the needle was inserted, most symptoms disappear quickly.

There are some risks when you have your blood drawn. These risks are minimal for most people. The needle will likely cause some discomfort in your veins. You might also experience bleeding for a few moments after the needle has been removed. You might also get a bruise around the puncture site.

Rarer complications can be more serious. These complications include fainting, swelling of the veins, and infection at the puncture site. A blood draw is more likely if you have a bleeding disorder.

Test Results

The serum progesterone level is measured in nanograms per deciliter. The laboratory will send your results to your doctor once they are available. Your gender, age, and menstrual cycle can all affect the results.

Your blood progesterone should be low at the beginning of the menstrual cycle. After you ovulate, it should peak a few days later. It should then fall to a low level unless you become pregnant.

Also Read: Why Should a Beta-hCG Blood Test Be Done

Normal test results

The following ranges are the normal serum progesterone results:

  • Men, women who are postmenopausal, and women starting their menstrual cycle should have 1ng/ml or below
  • Women in the middle phase of their menstrual cycle should have 5-20 ng/mL
  • Pregnant women in their first trimester: 11.2 – 90 ng/mL
  • Pregnant women in their second trimester: 25.6 to 99.5 ng/mL
  • Pregnant women in the third trimester of pregnancy: 48.4 to 42.25 ng/mL

Test results that are not normal

If your test results fall outside of the normal range, they are considered abnormal. A single abnormal test result may indicate normal fluctuations in progesterone levels. Progesterone levels can fluctuate greatly even within a single day. An underlying health issue may also be responsible for abnormally high or low levels of progesterone.

Apart from pregnancy, high levels of progesterone can be caused by:

  • Adrenal cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • A congenital adrenal hyperplasia is a group that can affect your adrenal gland.

Low levels of progesterone can be caused by:

  • Insufficient periods
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Failure to conceive
  • Miscarriage

Interpreting Results

Your progesterone levels may be higher than normal if:

  • You are pregnant
  • Have ovarian cyst
  • Have disorder in the adrenal glands
  • Have molar pregnancy which is a growth that occurs in the abdomen and causes symptoms of pregnancy.

If you are pregnant with more than one baby, your progesterone levels could be higher.

Your progesterone levels may be lower than normal.

  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • A miscarriage
  • You may not be able to ovulate normally which could lead to fertility problems

Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your results.


What are the signs of low progesterone?

Low progesterone can be caused due to miscarriage, ovulation problems, or menopause. Some of the symptoms you may notice are low libido, hot flashes, migraines, irregular menstruation, depression, or other mood swings.

Can you conceive with low levels of progesterone?

Progesterone is a hormone that prepares the uterus of supporting the implantation of the fertilized egg and providing it nutrition required for growth during the early months of pregnancy. Hence, low levels of progesterone can make it difficult for women to conceive.

What vitamin increases progesterone levels?

It is found that women who take Vitamin C have higher levels of progesterone. Vitamin C is a good way of maintaining your progesterone levels. But, in case of low levels of Vitamin C, it is suggested to consult your doctor to discuss underlying issues.


by Dr. Neeraj Gujar

Dr. Neeraj Gujar has done his M.D. in Pathology from Government Medical College. He has worked at various organisations such as Breach Candy Hospital and Tata Memorial Hospital along with many other private organisations. During his working career, he realised the pressing need for exceptional quality diagnostic services. A diagnostic centre that can consistently give accurate results verified by a consultant doctor (M.D. Pathologist) on which your doctor can depend. This has been the founding principle of Primus Pathology and Diagnostics.

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