What Is a Short Luteal Phase?

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1. What is the luteal phase? 

The luteal phase is simply the second half of a woman’s menstrual cycle. It is the time from ovulation day to the time a woman is supposed to start her period.

The luteal phase normally lasts two weeks. During this two week period, lots of important stuff is taking place within a woman’s body. During this phase, the lining of your uterus normally becomes thicker to prepare for a possible pregnancy.

womans-menstrual-cycle

For most women, the luteal phase lasts between ten and seventeen days, and this is considered normal. However, women who have a luteal phase of less than ten days are diagnosed with luteal phase defect.

2. What Does Luteal Phase Defect Mean?

If you have a luteal phase defect, the lining of your uterus does not grow properly each month. This can make it difficult to become or remain pregnant. During a short luteal phase, the body does not have enough time to produce enough progesterone to support a healthy pregnancy.

luteal-phase-defect-has-been-linked-to-PCOS-obesity-endometriosis

If the ovaries do not release enough progesterone, or the lining of the uterus does not respond properly to the progesterone, a luteal phase defect can occur. A luteal phase defect has actually been linked to several different health conditions, including, but not limited to thyroid disorders, PCOS, obesity, endometriosis, anorexia, excessive exercise or hyperprolactinemia (excess of a hormone that’s responsible for milk production in breasts).

3. Symptoms Of Luteal Phase Defect

Some women do not have any symptoms associated with their luteal phase defect. They never even know that there is a problem. However, if you have a luteal phase defect, you may notice that your period starts earlier than usual each month.

short-luteal-phase

Some other symptoms of a luteal phase defect, if they are present, include more frequent periods, spotting in between periods, miscarriage or trouble getting pregnant. However, it is sometimes difficult to diagnose a short luteal phase, because women do not usually notice any of the symptoms.

4. Diagnosing A Luteal Phase Defect

As previously mentioned, there is no single blood test that diagnoses a short luteal phase, so it can be a hard thing to figure out. Doctors can do blood tests of a woman’s LH levels and FSH levels, as well as progesterone level tests to determine the status of a woman’s luteal phase.

progesterone-level-tests

Pregnancy tests can also be helpful as well. Some doctors also choose to do endometrial biopsies to determine the status of a woman’s luteal phase. In some cases, doctors also use pelvic ultrasounds to determine the status of a woman’s uterine lining.

Dr. Lynette Weiss is ConceiveEasy's Senior Physician and Scientific Director. She is certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.