Functions of Progesterone
Effect of Progesterone on the Uterus. By far the mostimportant function of progesterone is to promotesecretory changes in the uterine endometrium duringthe latter half of the monthly female sexual cycle, thus preparing the uterus for implantation of the fertilized ovum. This function is discussed later in connection with the endometrial cycle of the uterus.
In addition to this effect on the endometrium, progesterone decreases the frequency and intensity of uterine contractions, thereby helping to prevent expulsion of the implanted ovum.
Effect of Progesterone on the Fallopian Tubes. Progesteronealso promotes increased secretion by the mucosal lining of the fallopian tubes. These secretions are necessary for nutrition of the fertilized, dividing ovum as it traverses the fallopian tube before implantation.
Effect of Progesterone on the Breasts. Progesteronepromotes development of the lobules and alveoli of the breasts, causing the alveolar cells to proliferate, enlarge, and become secretory in nature. However, progesterone does not cause the alveoli to secrete milk; milk is secreted only after the prepared breast is further stimulated by pro-lactin from the anterior pituitary gland.
Progesterone also causes the breasts to swell. Part of this swelling is due to the secretory development in the lobules and alveoli, but part also results from increased fluid in the subcutaneous tissue.
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