A progesterone test measures the amount of the
hormone progesterone in a blood sample.
Progesterone is a female hormone produced by the
ovaries during release of a mature egg from an ovary
(ovulation). Progesterone helps prepare the lining of
the uterus (endometrium) to receive the egg if it becomes
fertilized by a sperm. If the egg is not fertilized, progesterone levels drop
and menstrual bleeding begins.
During pregnancy, the
placenta also produces high levels of progesterone,
starting near the end of the
first trimester and continuing until the baby is born.
Levels of progesterone in a pregnant woman are about 10 times higher than they
are in a woman who is not pregnant.
Some types of cancer cause
abnormal progesterone levels in men and women.
A progesterone test is done to:
You may be asked to stop taking
medicines (including birth control pills) that contain
estrogen or progesterone, or both, for up to 4 weeks
before having a progesterone test.
Tell your doctor if you have
had a test that used a radioactive substance (tracer) within the last 7 days.
Recent tests such as a thyroid scan or bone scan that used a radioactive tracer
can interfere with the test results.
Let your doctor know the
first day of your last menstrual period. If your bleeding pattern is light or
begins with spotting, the first day is the day of heaviest bleeding.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for
the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To
help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
The health professional drawing blood
For a woman who is having problems with her menstrual cycle
or who cannot become pregnant, more than one blood sample for progesterone
testing may be needed to help identify the problem. A sample may be taken each
day for several days in a row.
You may feel nothing at all from the
needle puncture, or you may feel a brief sting or pinch as the needle goes
through the skin. Some people feel a stinging pain while the needle is in the
vein. But many people do not feel any pain or have only minor discomfort once
the needle is positioned in the vein.
There is very little risk of complications from
having blood drawn from a vein.
A progesterone test measures the amount
hormone progesterone in a blood sample.
Results are usually available within 24 hours.
The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
Less than 1
nanogram per milliliter (ng/mL) or 0.5–2.3
nanomoles per liter (nmol/L)
2–25 ng/mL or 6.4–79.5 nmol/L
10–44 ng/mL or 32.6–140 nmol/L
19.5–82.5 ng/mL or 62–262 nmol/L
65–290 ng/mL or 206.7–728 nmol/L
Less than 1 ng/mL or less than 3.2
Less than 1.0 ng/mL or less than 2
Many conditions can change progesterone levels. Your
doctor will discuss any significant abnormal results with you in relation to
your symptoms and past health.
High progesterone values may be caused
Low progesterone values may be caused
Reasons you may not be able to
have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2013). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 6th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
February 22, 2013
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
& Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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