The Luteal Phase
The final phase of your monthly cycle is the luteal phase, which is when your body has completed ovulation and is preparing itself for pregnancy.
The luteal phase begins once ovulation is complete and your corpus luteum (located within each ovary, containing your developing egg) collapses. This action causes your body to produce progesterone in order to thicken your uterine lining and sustain implantation of the egg. If the egg has not implanted within 10-16 days, the egg disintegrates, progesterone levels decrease and the uterine lining is shed during your menstruation period.
Once your menstruation has begun, the luteal phase has ended and the follicular phase begins again.
However, if the fertilized egg is able to successfully implant then your body will begin to produce the hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which provides nourishment to the egg and aids implantation.
Some women find that they have a shorter luteal phase. A luteal phase that is consistently less than 10 days may be a sign that you have a luteal phase defect, where your body is not producing adequate levels of progesterone. A luteal phase that is consistently longer than 16 days may be an indication of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Possible causes of a shorter or longer luteal phase may include:
- Excessive exercise
- Restrictive eating
- Thyroid disorders
During the luteal phase, it is common to experience the following symptoms:
- Water retention
- Mood swings
- Headaches or migraines
- Breast tenderness
If your luteal phase is shorter than 10 days, there are things you can do to help:
First, it is important to note that you should always let your doctor know your concerns and follow his or her prescribed advice. Your doctor may run a simple bloodwork test during your luteal phase, to test your progesterone levels and determine whether you would benefit from supplements.
If you are trying to conceive, you may be prescribed a progesterone suppository or cream to use during your luteal phase (avoid using progesterone supplements during your follicular phase, as doing so has the potential of delaying or preventing ovulation).
Also, according to research, Vitamin C (750 mg daily) was found to naturally increase progesterone levels for some women who have luteal phase defect. However, it is also possible that too much Vitamin C can reduce fertility and so it is best to speak with your doctor, possibly having blood work done to determine your current vitamin and supplement needs.
SingleMomsByChoice.org is run by single moms by choice for single moms by choice, dedicated to helping educate, enlighten and empower women who are thinking about or who have decided to have a child “on their own” through donor insemination, egg or embryo donation, adoption or other assisted means.