Progesterone and Athletic Performance

Progesterone and Athletic Performance

Progesterone and Athletic Performance

Commonly seen as estrogen’s counterpart – progesterone is an important hormone to a healthy female body. We’ve reviewed estrogen, but what role does progesterone play?


Progesterone is a steroid hormone produced by the ovaries and adrenal gland (located above the kidney). Progesterone is highest during the luteal phase of the period cycle – which is when the uterus lining is thickening to support a fertilized egg.

progesterone cycle

Progesterone and athletic performance

  • Nervous System: Progesterone makes it harder for neurons to communicate. When levels are low during the follicular phase, athletes may feel more explosive, strong, and powerful. When progesterone levels are high during the luteal phase, neural communication is inhibited, meaning that athletes may feel less explosive, strong, and powerful. 
  • Body Temperature: Progesterone increases body temperature, which increases strain on the body. Thus, it may inhibit athletic performance during the luteal phase when progesterone levels are high during. Sufficient warm ups before exercise may be enough to mitigate the effects. More research is needed on this relationship to draw conclusions.
  • Carbohydrate Use: Progesterone makes it harder for the body to process and use carbohydrates, which may decrease athletic performance. Research suggests that consuming extra carbohydrates before a workout may counteract this negative effect.
  • Bones: Progesterone plays a role in bone growth, meaning low levels of the hormone may result in osteoporosis.

Progesterone in pregnancy

Progesterone levels are high during pregnancy and it is very important especially during the early stages of pregnancy. Its pregnancy functions include:

  • Preparing the lining of the uterus – the endometrium
  • Preventing ovulation during pregnancy
  • Altering the mother’s immune system to prevent rejection of the embryo

Non reproductive functions

There has been research recently on new uses of progesterone:

  • Treatment of traumatic brain injury
  • Treatment of stimulant addiction
  • Treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s

By Carlyn Johnson


Cable, J. K., & Grider, M. H. (2023). Physiology, Progesterone. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.

Carmichael, M. A., Thomson, R. L., Moran, L. J., & Wycherley, T. P. (2021). The Impact of Menstrual Cycle Phase on Athletes' Performance: A Narrative Review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(4), 1667.

Dante, G., Vaccaro, V., & Facchinetti, F. (2013). Use of progestogens during early pregnancy. Facts, views & vision in ObGyn, 5(1), 66–71. 

Kaore, S. N., Langade, D. K., Yadav, V. K., Sharma, P., Thawani, V. R., & Sharma, R. (2012). Novel actions of progesterone: what we know today and what will be the scenario in the future?. The Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology, 64(8), 1040–1062. 

Smith, M. J., Adams, L. F., Schmidt, P. J., Rubinow, D. R., & Wassermann, E. M. (2002). Effects of ovarian hormones on human cortical excitability. Annals of neurology, 51(5), 599–603.

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