Progesterone is a 21-carbon steroid female sex hormone, produced mainly by the corpus luteum of the ovaries but also by the placenta, that prepares the inner lining of the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg cell. If implantation fails, the corpus luteum degenerates and progesterone production ceases accordingly. If implantation occurs, the corpus luteum continues to secrete progesterone, under the influence of luteinizing hormone and prolactin, for several months of pregnancy, by which time the placenta has taken over this function. During the pregnancy, progesterone maintains the constitution of the uterus and prevents further release of eggs from the ovary. Small amounts of progesterone are produced by the testes.
Progesterone belongs to a class of hormones called progestagens, and is the major naturally occurring human progestagen.