17-OH Progesterone (17 OHP) is said to be the building block for producing the stress hormone - Cortisol. Secreted in larger amounts as part of the body's response to physical or emotional stress, Cortisol is produced mainly by the adrenal cortex.1 When you develop cortisol deficiency, an accumulation of 17-OHP in the blood is generally observed. High levels of 17-OHP can suggest a condition known as Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) (group of genetic disorders affecting the adrenal glands), consequently the same can be used as a screening tool for the disorder. 

What Is 17-Hydroxyprogesterone?

17-Hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP) is a steroid hormone derived from progesterone. This hormone is responsible for stimulating  the thickening of the uterine lining and helps to prepare the uterus (womb) for the implantation of a fertilized egg. It is produced by the small triangular-shaped glands called the adrenal glands, attached to the top of our kidneys.

Role Of 17-Hydroxyprogesterone

17-OHP is involved in the generation of Cortisol, a hormone that aids in the digestion of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, as well as maintaining blood pressure and immune system regulation. The conversion of 17-OHP to cortisol necessitates the use of many enzymes. When one or more of these enzymes are defective or malfunctioning, inadequate levels of cortisol are produced. This inturn leads to a rise in the level of 17-OHP. In this event, the adrenal gland uses up some of the excess generated hormone thereby producing more male hormones (androgens). Buildup of androgens may cause virilization (development of male sexual characteristics). These inherited enzyme defects, along with the excess androgens, lead to the condition called Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, (CAH), an abnormality that obstructs the adrenal gland's ability to produce adequate cortisol. Partial or complete lack of the enzyme 21-hydroxylase is the most common cause of CAH responsible for almost 90% of cases.2

Understanding NCCAH

Fact: 

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) is a group of autosomal recessive disorders manifested by low cortisol production. CAH is generally split into two types: (a) Classical (CCAH) (b) Non-classical (NCCAH). Non-Classical Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (NCCAH) refers to a less severe type of the disorder. The disorder in general 3

  • Lacks genital ambiguity
  • Not immediately life-threatening
  • Develops later in life 
  • Remains asymptomatic or is misdiagnosed as another disease 

Implication: 

Should your results indicate an elevated risk for NCCAH, working with your doctor understanding the cause of the condition coupled with medications and follow-up treatment procedures can help you manage the condition effectively and efficiently.

When Can I Do A 17-Hydroxyprogesterone Test?

Your 17-OHP test does not require any special preparations. It can be performed anytime during the day. 

What Can Differing 17- Hydroxyprogesterone Levels Tell You?

1. Normal 17-OHP Levels

The normal level of 17 OHP in women are as follows:

  • >12 years: Follicular phase: 15-70 ng/dL; Luteal phase: 35-290 ng/dL
  • Pregnancy: 200-1200 ng/dL

2. High 17-OHP Levels

In case your test results show high levels of 17-OHP, you may probably have CAH. Very high levels usually indicate a more severe version of the illness, whereas moderately high levels indicate a milder variant. Symptoms observed in case of CAH include 2 4

  • Hirsutism
  • Acne 
  • Androgenic alopecia (Hair loss from the scalp, causing baldness)
  • Anovulation (Absence of ovulation)
  • Menstrual irregularity  
  • A deep voice 
  • Virilization (Development of male sexual characteristics)
  • Inability to get pregnant

High levels of 17-OH progesterone may suggest the presence of an adrenal tumor, which can influence hormone levels as well. 5

3. Low 17-OHP Levels

If diagnosed with CAH, low levels of 17-OHP may indicate that your medication is effective. Medicines to replace lost cortisol may be used as part of the treatment. 6

Where Can I Get My 17-OHP Levels Tested?

Curious to know more about your 17-OHP levels and how you can manage your fertility better? We  have got you covered. 

Order your OvaScore kit and learn about all your reproductive hormones and the relevant insights from the comfort and privacy of your home.