Tired woman holding cup of coffee while wondering if progesterone makes you tired

Does Progesterone Make You Tired?

Medically reviewed on December 10, 2023 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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The reproductive systems of women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB) operate under a unique balance of hormones. Estrogen hormone levels play a role in reproductive development and menstrual regularity, while progesterone works to prepare the uterus for pregnancy.[1]

That said, progesterone can cause additional physical effects, too. It’s actually believed that high progesterone may cause a hypnotic effect that can make you feel tired.[2] Let’s explore.

Understanding Progesterone

Progesterone is a type of steroid hormone that’s secreted by the corpus luteum, a mass of cells in the ovary. A new corpus luteum forms each time after ovulation, and breaks down when progesterone is no longer needed.[3]

Your hormones affect how you feel at the different stages of the menstrual cycle. During the second half of the menstrual cycle—called the luteal phase—progesterone prepares the uterus for a potential pregnancy by thickening the uterine lining, thickening cervical mucus to prevent bacterial infection, and reducing uterine contractions that may prevent the uterus from accepting a fertilized egg.[4]

When high levels of progesterone are in the body, you will not ovulate. Ovulation refers to the point in the menstrual cycle when a mature egg travels from the ovary and into the fallopian tube in preparation for fertilization.[1]

If the egg is not fertilized, however, the corpus luteum breaks down, progesterone levels decrease, and your body will begin to shed the uterine lining.[1]

Progesterone During Pregnancy

If sperm does fertilize the egg, it’ll drop from the fallopian tube and implant itself into the uterus. Accordingly, progesterone production continues, ensuring that the uterine lining is rich in blood vessels, which help to provide nutrients to the growing fetus.

Once the placenta forms, it will take over progesterone production from the corpus luteum. As the pregnancy progresses, progesterone levels will increase.[5]

The Effects of Progesterone

Does progesterone make you tired? Progesterone is known as the “relaxing hormone,” and it has a mildly sedative effect. For this reason, low progesterone levels can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle.[6]

For example, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), causes an irregularly high level of testosterone production, which can decrease progesterone levels in the body. Studies have found that lower progesterone levels can contribute to sleep difficulties and put people at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea, in which people can stop breathing for short periods throughout the night.[6]

In people who are pregnant, however, low progesterone levels can cause fatigue and low blood sugar.[7]

Some women may also take progesterone orally in conjunction with estrogens to help regulate the menstrual cycle; prevent changes in the uterus during menopause, and treat amenorrhea—the absence of periods. In these cases, the medicine can have side effects that may make a person more tired, including [8]:

  • Lightheadedness and/or dizziness
  • Cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Fever
  • Fainting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain and/or stiffness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Depression

See more about: What Does an Early Period Mean?

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How To Manage Tiredness

If you’re experiencing abnormal amounts of fatigue or weakness, consult with your healthcare provider. They will likely order a blood test to assess your hormone levels and check for any hormonal imbalances that may be disrupting how you function day to day.

During phases in which your progesterone levels are naturally elevated, take the time to prioritize self-care. Several strategies to combat tiredness throughout the day include [8]:

  • Eating frequently – Your body needs fuel to properly function throughout the day and feel its best. If you’re feeling unusually sluggish, you can combat the fatigue with healthy snacks every three to four hours. Pack each meal with nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. You can also supplement with additional vitamins and minerals that support healthy progesterone levels, like zinc and vitamin C.[5]
  • Exercise – While exercise might not be your first thought when feeling tired, movement can give you more energy by increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients in your organs and muscles. That said, you don’t need to adopt a high-intensity routine whenever you feel fatigued. Light movement, like a 15-minute walk, can work wonders on your energy levels and leave you feeling refreshed. Exercise may also reduce your progesterone levels.[10]
  • Reduce stress – Some studies have found that stress may stimulate both progesterone and cortisol production, which may increase feelings of tiredness.[11] To mitigate stress-induced fatigue, adopt practices that calm your mind and body. You can take a walk, stretch your body with yoga, listen to relaxing music, read a favorite book, journal, or spend time with loved ones.

Address Your Tiredness With Everlywell

When progesterone levels increase during the menstrual cycle, it’s not uncommon to also experience weakness and fatigue since the hormone can have a sedative effect. If you’re having difficulty managing your symptoms, a healthcare provider via Everlywell’s telehealth service may be able to help.

During a private virtual session via our women’s online health portal, we’ll sit down with you to address feelings of tiredness. If needed, we can provide lifestyle recommendations and prescription medication to help you return to feeling your best.

Schedule a visit today.

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  1. Reproductive Hormones. Endocrine Society. Published January 24, 2022. URL. Accessed November 15, 2023.
  2. Anderson M, et al. Effects of progesterone on sleep: a possible pharmacological treatment for sleep-breathing disorders? Curr Med Chem. Published 2006. URL. Accessed November 15, 2023.
  3. Corpus Luteum. Cleveland Clinic. Published October 7, 2021. URL. Accessed November 15, 2023.
  4. Cable J, et al. Physiology, Progesterone. StatPearls. Published May 1, 2023. URL. Accessed November 15, 2023.
  5. Progesterone. Cleveland Clinic. Published December 29, 2022. URL. Accessed November 15, 2023.
  6. Women, Are Your Hormones Keeping You Up at Night? Yale Medicine. Published July 10, 2017. URL. Accessed November 15, 2023.
  7. Low progesterone. Cleveland Clinic. Published January 16, 2023. URL. Accessed November 15, 2023.
  8. Progesterone (oral route). Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed November 15, 2023.
  9. Self-help tips to fight tiredness. NHS. Published March 24, 2021. URL. Accessed November 15, 2023.
  10. Kossman D, et al. Exercise lowers estrogen and progesterone levels in premenopausal women at high risk of breast cancer. J Appl Physiol. Published September 8, 2011. URL. Accessed November 15, 2023.
  11. Herrera A, et al. Stress-induced increases in progesterone and cortisol in naturally cycling women. Neurobiol Stress. Published February 11, 2016. URL. Accessed November 15, 2023.

Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP is a board-certified Family Physician. Since completing her residency training in 2010, she’s been practicing full-scope family medicine in a rural setting. Dr. Foglesong Stabile’s practice includes caring for patients of all ages for preventative care as well as chronic disease management. She also provides prenatal care and delivers babies. Dr. Foglesong Stabile completed a teaching fellowship in 2020 and teaches the family medicine clerkship for one of her local medical schools. Dr. Foglesong Stabile’s favorite thing about family medicine is the variety of patients she sees in her clinical practice.

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