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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.