Progesterone test


Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is progesterone?

Progesterone is a hormone that is made by the corpus luteum in the ovaries in women and it plays a vital role during pregnancy. The adrenal glands and the ovaries themselves also produce smaller quantities of the hormone. The progesterone test measures the level of the hormone in the blood.

Normally the progesterone levels vary in line with the menstrual cycle and increases after the ovaries release an egg. When pregnancy occurs, the hormonal levels can rise up to ten times the normal levels. In case there is no pregnancy the levels drop off and a new cycle begins. The hormone is also produced in men but in much smaller amounts and it is used in the creation of sperms.

What does a progesterone test measure?

The serum progesterone test is mostly ordered by doctors when there are issues related to a woman’s fertility. Progesterone levels slowly rise from the ninth week of pregnancy until the 32nd week. Gradually the placenta becomes the main source of progesterone and produces relatively large amounts of the hormone throughout the rest of a normal pregnancy.

The hormone causes the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, to thicken, providing a good environment for the implantation of a fertilized egg. During pregnancy, the hormone stimulates the blood vessels to supply the endometrium. It also prompts the endometrium to provide nutrients to the developing embryo and helps to trigger lactation. The higher levels of the hormone also prevent the body from producing additional eggs during pregnancy.

The test is also ordered in case there is a risk of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the fallopian tube, abdominal cavity or cervix, instead of the uterus. For pregnant women, the test is also used to check the health of the pregnancy and to monitor high-risk pregnancies. The test is not an exact indicator of any condition but is often used with other tests to monitor symptoms.

Why do I need to undergo a progesterone test?

The test is generally used for women who are having difficulty in getting pregnant and it can be used to check the normalcy of ovulation. The following are the main reasons for which the test is ordered.

– To help recognize and manage some causes of infertility. Due to the variation in the hormone levels, multiple measurements can be used for this purpose.

– To determine whether ovulation (released an egg from an ovary) has occurred, its time or to monitor the success of induced ovulation. It is one of the basic tests used to determine if the ovaries are working as they should.

– In the early stages of pregnancy to help diagnose a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.

– To monitor high-risk pregnancies by evaluating placenta and fetal health.

– In case a woman is receiving progesterone injections to help support her early pregnancy, it is used to help determine the effectiveness of the treatment.

– It is also used in conjunction with other tests such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), hCG, and a complete blood count (CBC), to help diagnose any abnormal uterine bleeding in non-pregnant women.

In many cases, a pregnant woman can have symptoms such as abdominal cramps or bleeding or a previous history of miscarriage. The test is used in such cases to assess the risks.

How is a progesterone test performed?

The test is a simple one and it is performed by drawing a blood sample from the body. The drawing process is also called venipuncture as blood is drawn from a vein, which is generally located on the inside of the elbow or in some cases at the back of the hand. The process involves the following steps.

– The area where the needle will be inserted is disinfected by an antiseptic. An elastic band is tied in the upper arm to make the vein swell with blood, thus making collection easier.

– A needle is inserted into the vein and blood is drawn through it in an attached tube. You may feel a slight sting or a prick associated with some stinging sensation as the needle is inserted.

– The band around the arm is loosened, the needle is withdrawn gently and pressure is applied on the area to prevent any excess bleeding. The spot is then covered with a sterile bandage to prevent any infections.

– Since the size of the veins and arteries vary from one person to the other, the collection process may be difficult for some as multiple punctures may be needed.

The process is safe and can be concluded within a few minutes. In some cases, there might be a blood clot or some soreness in the collection spot that is usually cured in a few days. Some patients might feel dizziness or even faint after the process. Chances of infection in the collection site are rare but might happen in exceptional cases. In case you have a bleeding disorder, you face higher risks during a blood sample collection.

What is the price for a progesterone test in India? 

The price of the progesterone test in India varies depending on the location and the quality of the facilities. The general price varies between Rs 400 to Rs 1600.

When will I get the test results?

The results of the test are generally made available with 24 to 48 hours. Some laboratories may take longer.

What is the normal range for a progesterone test?

Normal level Age group
1 to 0.3 ng/mL Prepubescent girls
0.1 to 0.7 ng/mL Follicular stage of the menstrual cycle
2 to 25 ng/mL Luteal stage of the menstrual cycle
10 to 44 ng/mL First trimester of pregnancy
19.5 to 82.5 ng/mL Second trimester of pregnancy
65 to 290 ng/mL Third trimester of pregnancy

The levels need to be assessed by a doctor in relation to the patient’s medical history and symptoms to make the right diagnosis.

What do the results mean?

While the levels of the hormone keep fluctuating, abnormally high or low levels can indicate a health disorder. Apart from pregnancy, high levels can be caused by the following conditions.

– Ovarian cancer or any form of ovarian tumor.
– Adrenal cancer or insufficient production by the adrenal glands.
– Congenital adrenal hyperplasia which is a group of disorders that affect the adrenal gland

When the levels are on the lower side the following conditions might be a reason.

– Absence of periods
– Failure to ovulate
– Cases of ectopic pregnancy
– Miscarriage
– Fetal death

Various other conditions cause an abnormal level of the hormone and some of them are mentioned below.

– Increased progesterone during pregnancy can indicate that you have twins or an abnormal type of pregnancy called a molar pregnancy.

-Decreased progesterone when you aren’t pregnant could mean a deficiency of female hormones, a condition called hypogonadism.

– Menopause can also affect the hormonal levels.

When multiple tests indicate no fluctuation in the progesterone levels, it might indicate that the patient is not ovulating or having regular periods. This can make it difficult for her to get pregnant. The results are to be interpreted by a doctor who may order further tests to pinpoint the exact cause of the abnormal levels.

Do I need to fast for the progesterone test?

Fasting is not necessary before the test.

What else do I need to know before I appear for a progesterone test?

The following points can be kept in mind when you are undertaking the test.

– Certain medicines like birth control pills or steroids can affect the test results. Discuss with the doctor in case you are consuming such medicines. Also let them know about all the medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking.

– Other tests can be ordered by the doctor for further diagnosis, including an ultrasound to measure the thickness of the lining of your uterus.

– The test levels can vary between laboratories so if you are appearing for a series of tests, it is best to stick to the same one.

The results of the test will vary depending on the menstrual cycle and also on menopause. Even if your test results are different than the normal values, you may not have a problem. The doctor will analyze the details to tell what exactly the results mean.

Can pregnant women undergo a progesterone test?

Pregnant women can undergo the test without any restrictions.

Is progesterone test possible for new-born babies?

The test is generally not required for new-born babies.


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