Progesterone is a steroid hormone that plays an important role in the female body. It is produced from puberty until menopause, with its concentration gradually decreasing over time. If you want to learn more about this hormone and its role, continue reading.
Definition of Progesterone
Progesterone is a sex hormone that plays a significant role in reproduction and the development of sexual characteristics during puberty. It is synthesized from cholesterol in both males and females under the activity of the luteinizing hormone (LH). Progesterone, on the other hand, can be converted to androstenedione and then to testosterone or estradiol. Like estrogen, this hormone belongs to the large family of steroid hormones.
In women, progesterone is a hormone mainly released by the corpus luteum of the ovaries and is used in the third phase of the female menstrual cycle, also called the luteal phase, and during pregnancy. Progesterone levels rise sharply during this phase, then gradually fall and are low again at the beginning of the next cycle.
Progesterone is also found in the males testicles and adrenal glands. However, it is only present in very small quantities. In particular, it influences spermatogenesis and testosterone synthesis in the Leydig cells. Progesterone can also influence the synthesis of gonadotropin, a hormone that stimulates the activity of the gonads.
What Role Does Progesterone Play?
The production of progesterone increases sharply during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, i.e. after ovulation. The ruptured follicle, which contains the egg, transforms into the corpus luteum and begins producing this hormone. Progesterone prepares the body for a possible pregnancy by strengthening the lining of the uterus (or endometrium), which helps the fertilized egg nest. If the egg is fertilized, progesterone helps maintain the pregnancy and reduces the risk of miscarriage. It also acts synergistically with estrogen to stimulate the developme
nt of the mammary glands for milk production.
Increased production of progesterone during the third phase of the menstrual cycle is also associated with the onset of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which is usually characterized by breast tenderness, irritability and acne. According to studies, progesterone appears to have an effect on the neurotransmitters serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are responsible for your mood. Progesterone may also interact with the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), which may explain bloating and swelling that occur during the luteal phase.
How Does Progesterone Affect the Skin?
The effect of progesterone on the skin is less thoroughly researched than that of estrogen. Nevertheless, the increased sebum production seen in the second half of the menstrual cycle is often associated with increased progesterone synthesis. This is one of the reasons why the skin appears oilier during this phase and is more prone to blemishes and the appearance of hormone-related acne. Also, the pores become more visible. It is believed that progesterone works by binding to a receptor in the sebaceous glands.
After menopause, when progesterone synthesis ceases, the skin is typically drier and less moisturized as the hydrolipidic film deteriorates. The hydrolipidic film, which consists mainly of water and sebum, deteriorates when sebum secretion by the sebaceous glands decreases. The skin is then more susceptible to external influences (wind, cold, pollution).
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