Infertility, miscarriage and C-sections are fast becoming important topics of discussion for anyone wanting to become pregnant. The rate of infertility, miscarriages and C-sections are at an all time high. Add everyday worry and anxiety to the equation and you will easily see how stress can contribute to these problems.

Stress, as it does in so many areas of our life interferes with the reproductive process and a major cause for infertility and miscarriages. The reason is simple, lack of progesterone.

The word itself, progesterone means “for gestation,” meaning we need this hormone, in its right balance if we want be become pregnant and stay pregnant. Progesterone nourishes the uterine lining in preparation of the implanted fertilized egg. It is progesterone that continual feeds and nourishes the uterus during pregnancy. Unfortunately, constant stress causes a decrease in your progesterone levels.

When you are constantly in that “fight or flight” mode because of stress your adrenal glands will produce additional cortisol and adrenaline. This is a normal bio-chemical process. The problem is that in order to make cortisol, your adrenal glands need progesterone. This causes your progesterone to be used in making your stress hormones as opposed to what it is designed to do, which is support your pregnancy.

The adrenal glands can not make cortisol without progesterone. It is literally a raw material needed by your adrenal glands to make cortisol. It’s often referred to as the ‘progesterone steal’ because your body will steal however much progesterone it needs to make cortisol. This is one of the primary reason some women are having a hard time with infertility and miscarriages, they don’t have enough progesterone available to conceive or maintain a pregnancy.

The body is designed for survival and when you are constantly in that “fight or flight” mode it is more important for the body to run away from the saber-tooth tiger than it is to have a baby. The constant demand for cortisol is going to reduce your levels of progesterone. Inadequate levels of progesterone not only interferes with the reproductive process, but it is another reason so many women struggle with PMS, hot flashes, night sweats, etc….their progesterone is being stolen away to make cortisol. This whole progesterone steal process causes a deficiency, but also affects the balance of progesterone to estrogen and testosterone.

Supplementing with progesterone (I prefer sublingual progesterone over topical creams) can do wonders for so many women who are struggling with infertility, miscarriages, PMS, hot flashes, night sweats and other hormonal imbalances . Yet I always encourage my patients to identify where the stress is coming from and support those exhausted adrenal glands.

If we merely add progesterone without nourishing those adrenal glands, we are going to always have to supplement with progesterone. But if we strengthen our adrenal glands and manage our stress, we allow the adrenal glands to function the way they are designed to. Most importantly – you can never get your progesterone levels back to normal without first supporting and nourishing those exhausted adrenal glands.

Measuring those Hormones

Often times women will tell me they had their hormones tested and were told everything was normal. Unfortunately a one time blood or saliva sample doesn’t give an accurate measurement to those hormones due to the fact that they fluctuate so much in a month. A more accurate picture and diagnosis can be made when several hormone samples in a month can be mapped out to determine if there are any abnormal hormonal variations.

I encourage anyone who is struggling with infertility, PMS, or other hormonal issues to taking anywhere from 7-11 saliva samples to get a clear and accurate picture of your monthly cycle. When you map out your monthly cycle, you can easily see if your hormones are ‘truly’ staying within their normal range. If you are struggling with infertility, it is very important to also measure your LH and FSH in addition to estrogen and progesterone.

Estrogen and progesterone tell us if your ovaries are getting the job done. While the LH and FSH are more indicative of the communication between your brain (pituitary) telling your ovaries to start the ovulation process.

The Stress Connection

Low levels of progesterone is often attributed to your adrenal glands stealing your progesterone. This is why it is recommended to first measure adrenal function and see how much stress we are truly placing on our body. The best way to measure your adrenal function is with a saliva test that measures both cortisol and DHEA.

Cortisol and DHEA are direct indicators to how much stress you are placing on the body. The constant demand for cortisol will eventually exhaust the adrenal glands and disrupt the production of your progesterone, estrogen, testosterone and DHEA. It is a basic cause and effect…and you will never get your reproductive hormones back to normal if your adrenal glands are burnt out.

A good ‘adrenal stress panel’ will include 4 cortisol measurements, 2 DHEA measurements as well as a measurement for your insulin levels. Measuring insulin is helpful and indicative to adrenal function, because high levels of cortisol trigger increased insulin which is associated with obesity, cravings, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

The healing process is more than swallowing a handful of supplements and begins by restoring normal function to the body. If stress is throwing your body out of balance, check to see if your adrenals need support. If they are - support them with and then it will be easier to rebalancing those reproductive hormones.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Len Lopez is a nutrition and fitness expert and author of “To Burn or Not to Burn, Fat is the Question” and 5 STEPS Closer..." You can learn more about progesterone and how to keep those hormones in balance by listening to his weekly radio show. Sign up for his Free weekly health tips and take advantage of his “online health quizzes” at