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Progesterone Test

What is a progesterone test?

A progesterone test measures the level of progesterone in the blood. Progesterone is a hormone made by a woman's ovaries. Progesterone plays an important role in pregnancy. It helps make your uterus ready to support a fertilized egg. Progesterone also helps prepare your breasts for making milk.

Progesterone levels vary during a woman's menstrual cycle. The levels start out low, then increase after the ovaries release an egg. If you become pregnant, progesterone levels will continue to rise as your body gets ready to support a developing baby. If you do not become pregnant (your egg is not fertilized), your progesterone levels will go down and your period will begin.

Progesterone levels in a pregnant woman are about 10 times higher than they are in a woman who is not pregnant. Men also make progesterone, but in much smaller amounts. In men, progesterone is made by the adrenal glands and testes.

Other names: serum progesterone, progesterone blood test, PGSN

What is it used for?

A progesterone test is used to:

  • Find the cause of a woman's infertility (the inability to make a baby)
  • Find out if and when you are ovulating
  • Find out your risk of a miscarriage
  • Monitor a high-risk pregnancy
  • Diagnose an ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy that grows in the wrong place (outside the uterus). A developing baby can't survive an ectopic pregnancy. This condition is dangerous, and sometimes life-threatening, for a woman.

Why do I need a progesterone test?

You may need this test if you are having trouble getting pregnant. A progesterone test can help your health care provider see if you are ovulating normally.

If you are pregnant, you may need this test to check the health of your pregnancy. Your provider may recommend a progesterone test if you are at risk for miscarriage or other pregnancy complications. Your pregnancy may be at risk if you have symptoms such as abdominal cramps or bleeding, and/or a previous history of miscarriage.

What happens during a progesterone test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don't need any special preparations for a progesterone test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

If your progesterone levels are higher than normal, it may mean you:

Your progesterone levels may be even higher if you are pregnant with two or more babies.

If your progesterone levels are lower than normal, it may mean you:

  • Have an ectopic pregnancy
  • Had a miscarriage
  • Are not ovulating normally, which can cause fertility problems

If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a progesterone test?

Because progesterone levels change throughout your pregnancy and menstrual cycle, you may need to be retested several times.

References

  1. Allina Health [Internet]. Minneapolis: Allina Health; c2018. Serum progesterone [cited 2018 Apr 23]; [about 3 screens]. Available from:
  2. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.; American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2018. Progesterone [updated 2018 Apr 23; cited 2018 Apr 23]; [about 3 screens]. Available from:
  3. Mayo Clinic: Mayo Medical Laboratories [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1995–2018. Test ID: PGSN: Progesterone Serum: Overview [cited 2018 Apr 23]; [about 2 screens]. Available from:
  4. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2018. Overview of the Female Reproductive System [cited 2018 Apr 24]; [about 2 screens]. Available from:
  5. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2018. Quick Facts: Ectopic Pregnancy [cited 2018 Apr 23]; [about 2 screens]. Available from:
  6. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Blood Tests [cited 2018 Apr 23]; [about 3 screens]. Available from:
  7. UF Health: University of Florida Health [Internet]. University of Florida; c2018. Serum Progesterone: Overview [updated 2018 Apr 23; cited 2018 Apr 23]; [about 2 screens]. Available from:
  8. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2018. Health Encyclopedia: Progesterone [cited 2018 Apr 23]; [about 2 screens]. Available from:
  9. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Health Information: Progesterone: Results [updated 2017 Mar 16; cited 2018 Apr 23]; [about 8 screens]. Available from:
  10. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Health Information: Progesterone: Test Overview [updated 2017 Mar 16; cited 2018 Apr 23]; [about 2 screens]. Available from:
  11. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Health Information: Progesterone: Why It is Done [updated 2017 Mar 16; cited 2018 Apr 23]; [about 3 screens]. Available from:

The medical information provided is for informational purposes only, and is not to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact your health care provider with questions you may have regarding medical conditions or the interpretation of test results.

In the event of a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.