One of the first things that comes to mind when you think about conception is likely ovulation. However, ovulation is just one aspect of the conception process.
One of the major phases of your menstrual cycle responsible for successful conception is the luteal phase. It is a post-ovulatory phase where your body, specifically your uterus, prepares for successful egg implantation. A short luteal phase means your body has less time to prepare for egg implantation.
The hormone responsible for preparing the uterus is called progesterone. Progesterone is released in your body after successful ovulation. The luteal phase begins after ovulation, and lasts about 12-14 days, with the norm being 14 days.
A short luteal phase is called a luteal phase defect (LPD). It means less preparation time, which can cause a risk of improper implantation – leading to complications or a complete lack of implantation. Therefore, a longer luteal phase can help you improve your conception odds. On the other hand, a shorter phase can hinder your chances of conception considerably.
Image courtesy of The Bright Girl Guide by Demi Spaccavento. How do you fix a short luteal phase?
What is a Luteal Phase Defect?
An LPD is marked by having a lower-than-average amount of the hormone progesterone present during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle. A lower progesterone level can pose significant challenges for your body to sustain a pregnancy.
One study concluded that about 18% of women have a short luteal phase. The study also concluded that a short luteal phase could adversely affect your chances of conceiving. That said, the same study also found that only 3% of women have this problem regularly.
How Do I Know If I Have a Short Luteal Phase?
If you have a luteal phase that lasts less than 11 days, it can be considered a LPD. If you suspect you might have a shorter luteal phase, a proper medical test can reveal it quite accurately, and you should contact your healthcare professional.
Another way to track your phase length is by charting your cycles. Fertility2Family ovulation tests and basal thermometers can help you easily track your cycles with high accuracy and reliability. Our fertility kits also measure your fertility hormone levels, providing you with valuable insights regarding your fertility window.
Your doctor may perform more tests if they suspect you might be affected by an LPD. These tests include determining various hormone levels, including progesterone, the Luteinising Hormone (LH), and the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). That said, it can be tricky to diagnose LPD defects accurately.
However, certain signs and symptoms might help the diagnosis. Some of these include multiple miscarriages early on, menstrual cycles that are significantly shorter, and spotting between the ovulation phase and menses. All these symptoms generally arise due to a deficiency in progesterone hormone levels in women with LPDs.
What Are the Reasons for a Short Luteal Phase?
The most obvious reason for a shorter luteal phase is low progesterone levels. That said, some health problems may contribute to this deficiency as well. Some of these issues include:
- Being overweight
- Having anorexia
- Having Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Too much exercise or physical exertion
- Stress and mental health issues
It is also important to note that smoking can significantly reduce oestrogen levels, contributing to progesterone deficiency.
How to Fix a Shorter Luteal Phase?
The use of hCG supplements causes the body to release more progesterone, helping to extend the luteal phase. Sometimes, doctors may prescribe progesterone to counter the deficiency. Progesterone is available in various dosage forms, including oral, rectal, and injectables.
However, progesterone supplementation is not without unwanted side effects. Artificial progesterone supplementation’s untoward effects may include abdominal cramps, bloating, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and diarrhea.
How to Increase the Luteal Phase Naturally
There is no shortage of natural methods to lengthen your luteal phase without artificial hormone therapies. Changing your lifestyle, diet and mental outlook can greatly help lengthen the luteal phase. Herbal remedies, essential oils, and some vitamin supplements can be quite effective. Some natural ways to lengthen your luteal phase include:
As a water-soluble vitamin that can greatly help lengthen your luteal phase naturally, vitamin C is known to improve the thickness of the endometrial lining of your uterus.
Citrus fruits such as oranges, limes, and lemons are rich in vitamin C, and including these in your regular diet may help you lengthen your luteal phase. More foods full of vitamin C are leafy greens, strawberries, pineapples, plums, and broccoli. Many over-the-counter supplements can also help.
Herbal Remedies & Vitex (Chasteberry)
Vitex, or chaste berry, is a small fruit tree native to the Mediterranean region. It has been used for centuries in herbal medicine to treat various female reproductive issues, including infertility and menstrual irregularities.
Vitex is believed to help lengthen the luteal phase by promoting the body’s natural production of luteinising hormone. This hormone plays a crucial role in stimulating the ovaries to produce progesterone during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
By boosting progesterone levels, Vitex can extend the luteal phase, enhancing a woman’s chances of successful conception. However, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, including Vitex.
Progesterone cream is a topical treatment that naturally extends the luteal phase. Applying the cream directly to the skin can help to lengthen a short luteal phase, thus improving fertility.
The cream is typically applied twice daily to areas such as the inner arm, inner thigh, or neck from ovulation until the onset of menstruation. As with any treatment, it’s important to use progesterone cream under the guidance of a healthcare provider.
Vitamin B6 is a nutrient that plays a key role in various bodily functions, including hormone regulation. Vitamin B6 can be found in various foods, including:
A vitamin B6 supplement is another option for those who may not get enough of this nutrient from their diet. However, consult a healthcare provider before starting a vitamin B6 regimen.
Oxidative stress can negatively impact a woman’s fertility, potentially contributing to conditions such as luteal phase defects and recurrent miscarriages. Antioxidants help protect the body from oxidative stress by neutralising harmful free radicals.
Women with LPDs and recurrent miscarriages have been found to have significantly lower levels of antioxidants compared to healthy women. Therefore, incorporating antioxidants into one’s diet or supplement regimen could help lengthen the luteal phase and improve overall fertility. Foods rich in antioxidants include:
- Dark chocolate
- Green leafy vegetables
A Healthy Fertility Diet
Your overall diet plays a vital role in controlling your menstrual cycle. But when you are unable to get enough nutrients through diet alone, fertility supplements prove very helpful. One of the most popular supplements in Australia is Conceive Plus Fertility Supplements.
Conceive Plus Fertility Supplements can assist with regulating menstrual cycles, ovulation function, and increasing egg quality. You should inform your healthcare provider if you plan to take such supplements.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight and Cholesterol Levels
Abnormally low cholesterol levels and underweight can contribute to low progesterone production, resulting in a short luteal phase. Cholesterol is a vital component in producing all hormones, including progesterone.
Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and weight can support the body’s natural hormone production and potentially lengthen the luteal phase. This can be achieved through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and regular check-ups with a healthcare provider to monitor cholesterol levels and overall health.
Adequate Sleep and Stress Management
The human body is a complex system where various functions are interconnected. Hormonal balance, crucial for a healthy menstrual cycle and fertility, can be significantly impacted by lifestyle factors such as sleep and stress.
Stress can also be a very important factor affecting your overall fertility health. Managing stress can help greatly in increasing the luteal phase duration. Some effective ways to deal with stress include:
- Yoga and meditation
- Alternative therapies, such as acupressure, acupuncture, and essential oils
A lack of sleep can also disrupt the body’s hormonal balance, potentially affecting ovulation and the post-ovulation period. Adequate sleep is essential for the body’s overall health and the regulation of hormones.
The Importance of Monitoring a Crucial Phase in Fertility Planning
Understanding and tracking a particular post-ovulatory phase in the menstrual cycle is vital for those planning for conception. This phase lasts around 12-14 days when the body prepares the uterus for successful egg implantation.
Monitoring this period can provide essential insights into hormonal balance, specifically progesterone levels, a hormone responsible for preparing the uterus. A shorter or longer duration of this phase can signal underlying health issues and significantly affect the chances of conception.
By paying close attention to this specific phase, individuals can take proactive steps to optimise their fertility, seek medical advice, and enhance their overall understanding of reproductive health.
Your Partner in Understanding Fertility
A short luteal phase can hamper your chances of getting pregnant greatly. Ensure you speak to your doctor to understand and seek help managing your condition. Planning a proper diet, regularly exercising, tracking your cycle, and keeping stress levels low are some of the natural ways to increase the luteal phase.
Your fertility journey is deeply personal, and Fertility2Family is here to support you every step of the way. Our fertility-related blog offers expert insights into the luteal phase and other essential topics. With Fertility2Family, you’re gaining more than information; you’re embracing a compassionate approach to your unique path to conception.
For more information or further questions regarding a short luteal phase and extending it naturally, contact us today.
Evan is the founder of Fertility2Family and is passionate about fertility education & providing affordable products to help people in their fertility journey. Evan is a qualified enrolled nurse and has expertise in guiding & managing patients through their fertility journeys.