University of California San Francisco | About UCSF | UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco
Search Site | Find a Doctor

Pregnanediol

Definition

Pregnanediol is an inactive product that forms when the body breaks down the hormone progesterone. A test can be done to measure the amount of pregnanediol in urine. The urine test offers an indirect way to measure progesterone levels in the body.

How the test is performed

A 24-hour urine sample is needed.

How to prepare for the test

Your doctor may tell you to stop taking certain drugs that can affect the test. For example, ACTH may increase test measurements. Birth control pills or progesterone may decrease test measurements.

How the test will feel

The test involves only normal urination, and there is no discomfort.

Why the test is performed

Before progesterone blood tests were available, this test was used to monitor pregnancies and check for possible problems with the ovaries or adrenal cortex.

In women, progesterone is produced mainly after the ovaries release an egg (ovulation). The main function of progesterone is to help the uterus prepare for possible implantation of a fertilized egg. After fertilization, progesterone is necessary for the development of the placenta, the organ that develops to nourish the growing baby. During pregnancy, most progesterone is produced by the placenta.

Some progesterone is also produced by the adrenal cortex. See: Adrenal glands

Currently there is little use for this test except in home ovulation predictor kits.

Normal Values

Normal values in women vary depending on when the test is done. Levels rise consistently during pregnancy and range from 40 milligrams to 100 milligrams in 24 hours.

Lower levels are found during certain phases of the menstrual cycle and after menopause.

In men, normal values range from 0.1 to 0.7 milligrams per 24 hours.

What abnormal results mean

Higher-than-normal levels may be due to:

  • Adrenocortical hyperplasia
  • Arrhenoblastoma of ovary
  • Choriocarcinoma of ovary
  • Hyperadrenocorticism
  • Ovarian cyst

Lower-than-normal levels may be due to:

  • Amenorrhea
  • Decreased ovarian function
  • Fetal death
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Preeclampsia
  • Threatened abortion
  • Toxemia of pregnancy

What the risks are

There are no risks.

References

Lobo RA. Reproductive endocrinology: neuroendocrinology, gonadotropins, sex steroids, prostaglandins, ovulation, menstruation, hormone assay. In: Katz VL, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 4.

Lehmann HP, Henry JB. SI units. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 21st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2006:appendix 5.

Review Date: 4/12/2009

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright ©2010 A.D.A.M., Inc., as modified by University of California San Francisco. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Information developed by A.D.A.M., Inc. regarding tests and test results may not directly correspond with information provided by UCSF Medical Center. Please discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.