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?