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A short luteal phase can make it harder to become pregnant, but not impossible. Here's what that means and what to look out for.
If you're trying to get pregnant, you might focus entirely on the ovulation phase of your cycle, because you know that you have to have sex during your ovulation phase to increase your chances of conceiving. But the other phases of your cycle, like the follicular and luteal phase, are just as important — as they’re what causes ovulation to happen in the first place. If you’re trying to conceive, knowing whether you have a short luteal phase is crucial in your pregnancy journey.
So, what is a short luteal phase and how does it affect your fertility? We’ll cover:
The luteal phase is the last phase of your menstruation cycle. As the egg travels down the fallopian tube, the follicle, which once held it, becomes the corpus luteum. You can think of it as an empty sac that releases progesterone and a small amount of estrogen. These hormones signal the body to thicken the endometrium and prepare it for implantation.
If implantation occurs, progesterone and estrogen stay elevated. If the egg does not implant, the corpus luteum dies, and the drop in hormones triggers menstruation once again.
Your hormone levels are crucial indicators of whether you’re ovulating and release an egg with each cycle. That’s why it’s impotant to track your progesterone levels and LH to ensure that you ovulate and release an egg with each cycle.
A typical luteal phase lasts anywhere between 11 and 17 days. While most women of reproductive age fall between this range, some women experience luteal phase defect (LPD) or a short luteal phase. A short luteal phase is a shorter than 11 days.
A short luteal phase can pose a problem for women who want to become pregnant because it makes the implantation process much harder.
How? When you have a short luteal phase, the body doesn't produce enough progesterone, and the uterine lining does not fully develop — meaning it’s much harder for an egg to implant.
If the egg does implant, having a miscarriage is possible because low progesterone can shed the uterine lining prematurely and excrete the fertilized embryo.
This doesn't, however, mean that pregnancy is impossible — it just may take a longer for successful implantation. One study found that women with a short luteal phase had significantly lower fertility after the first six months of trying to conceive, but at 12 months, there was no significant difference in cumulative probability of pregnancy.
There are two main ways to tell if you have a short luteal phase: symptoms and hormone tracking.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of a short luteal phase are not always obvious. You might not even realize you have the problem until you can’t conceive.
However, there are a few symptoms that could give you a glimpse into this issue:
Another way to discover the length of your luteal phase is to use a hormone tracking kit, like Oova. Oova uses advanced image processing to measure precise hormone levels from your urine, like progesterone. From the test, you’ll be able to understand your unique hormone levels and get answers about whether you might have a short luteal phase — all from the comfort of your home.
A short luteal phase may be due to a variety of factors, from reproductive disorders to life factors. Some common causes include:
These causes often have to do with how the factor affects your hormone levels, particularly your level of progesterone.
If you discover you have a short luteal phase, the best thing you can do is to consult a healthcare professional. They might recommend a variety of treatment, including:
Having a short luteal phase can pose difficulties if you try to get pregnant, but it does not mean you can’t have children. There are various treatment options, so don’t lose hope!
Keeping track of your cycle is an excellent way to stay ahead of the issue and catch it early. Learn more about Oova and start tracking your cycle today.
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Cramping unfortunately doesn’t end even if your period does. Here’s how to get relief.
Sometimes you may experience cycles where you bleed but don’t ovulate. This can make it tough to know whether or not you’re ovulating regularly. Here’s how to tell if you didn’t ovulate, even when you get a period.