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conception fertility pregnancy Reflexology

What is a short luteal phase? And why is it important when you’re trying to conceive?

The luteal phase is the 10 – 16 days between ovulation (release of an egg) and the bleed. The phase length is governed by the corpus luteum, a temporary endocrine gland which forms from the empty follicle after ovulation. The corpus luteum is responsible for the production of progesterone, which supports the development of any embyros until the placenta forms at about 12 – 15 weeks gestation and takes over.

If you are trying to get pregnant, a short luteal phase could hamper your attempts, as the progesterone needed to help establish a pregnancy may not be sufficient. You may have been diagnosed as sub-fertile or experienced early miscarriage.

A short luteal phase usually means your body is producing low quantities of progesterone. Signs of this include PMS, pre-period bleeding or spotting, cyclical headaches, weight gain, painful or lumpy breasts, heavy/long bleed.

Short luteal phases can be caused by many factors:

Stress (emotional, physical, illness, trauma, surgery) – the body can suppress reproductive hormones when the hypothalamus reacts to body chemistry changes

Undereating – another form of stress where the body reacts to being undernourished

Medical conditions – these may be undiagnosed, but coeliac disease and thyroid disease are known to be a factor

Can you improve a short luteal phase?

Yes. Changes to diet, lifestyle,specific supplements and targeted reflexology have shown improvements in lengthening luteal phases.

Balancing your cycle helps your body to work in harmony (remember homeostastis in my last post) and regulate itself.

What’s your luteal phase like?

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conception fertility pregnancy Reflexology

What is PCOS?

What is PCOS / Poly Cycstic Ovary Syndrome?

PCOS is a whole body hormone condition, not just a period problem.

When follicle sacs within the ovaries fail to develop properly, they can cause cysts on the ovary surface (hence the term poly = many and cystic = follicles). These can interfere with ovulation because the hormones needed to support ovulation are not working correctly.

It’s relatively common for women to have polycystic ovaries – and in fact teenagers are very likely to have polycystic ovaries and be considered ‘normal’.

Not everyone with these types of cysts has PCOS – unless you also have raised levels of luteinising hormone (LH) and testosterone.

PCOS is really a group of symptoms, related to lack of ovulation and higher levels of male-type hormones (androgens).

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

Irregular or late bleeds (irregular bleeds are typical of cycles with NO ovulation)
Long bleeds
Excessive facial or body hair
Acne
Hair loss
Weight gain
Infertility

Commonly prescribed treatment options for PCOS include the contraceptive pill, anti-androgen drugs, and metformin.

Some of these will not be suitable if you are trying to conceive or want to get your cycles regulated in a more natural way. They also rely on knowing which type of PCOS is driving your condition – i.e. insulin-resistant, post-pill, inflammatory or adrenal.

As a fertility reflexologist, I use a holistic approach, which includes sharing information on nutrition, lifestyle changes and supplements. I use fertility reflexology to help your menstrual cycle rebalance, reminding your body what it needs to do to reduce your symptoms and get those hormones properly flowing.

How can you help yourself? Lots of different things can help, but as above, find out what kind of PCOS you have in order to make the right changes.

Need help with that? Get in touch via the ‘book now’ button, or click here.

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Reflexology

What is ovulation?

Do you what ovulation is? And what is its purpose?

Ovulation is … the main event of your monthly cycle. Hopefully your hormones have been doing their job during the follicular phase (see previous posts), your follicles have produced enough oestrogen and an egg has matured enough to rupture the follicle!

A surge of luteinising hormone (LH) triggers the egg to be released into the fallopian tubes where it is either fertilised by sperm, or re-absorbed into the body.

You may notice a twinge or a mild pain in your lower pelvis when ovulation occurs.

At the same time, all that lovely oestrogen has been changing the cervical mucus from non-fertile (white, thick, sticky) to fertile (clear, slippery, wet) so that sperm have an easier swim up to the Fallopian tubes. Your cervix will also soften, move down and open slightly – all to help the passage of sperm.

If you’re temperature charting you might notice a dip in temperature just BEFORE ovulation, followed by a rise of at least 0.3°C which should then stay higher for at least 3 readings.

At the same time as the egg is released, the collapsed follicle magically restructures itself into the corpus luteum, a gland producing progesterone, which will support a developing embryo, or fade away over the luteal phase (see previous posts) until your next bleed.

Ovulation is the time in your cycle when you are most likely to become pregnant. And conversely, the time to avoid having sex or protect yourself from potential pregnancies if you are NOT actively trying to conceive.

What can affect ovulation?

*Post-contraception anovulation – this can last for months after stopping
*PCOS
*Hormonal factors like high LH, high testosterone, low progesterone etc.
*Stress
*Being underweight
*You’ve reached peri-menopause

Can ovulation be improved? Yes. You can improve the hormonal balancing act that leads to ovulation, with a combination of charting (knowledge is POWER!) and targeted reflexology.

If you have physical issues with your ovaries, e.g. you have had an ectopic pregnancy and only have 1 ovary left etc., then you may need assisted fertility treatment in a clinic BUT reflexology can still work to support you and your body alongside this.

Do you know if you ovulate?