Your menstrual cycle happens in several stages. You might not have given it too much thought before, but when you’re trying to conceive, that calendar tends to become more prominent.
If you notice that it’s not long between the day you ovulate and the day your period starts, you might have what’s known as a short luteal phase. But what exactly does that mean? Open up your planner, and let us explain.
In this article: 📝
- What is a short luteal phase?
- Is having a short luteal phase bad?
- What causes a short luteal phase?
- How do you know if you have a short luteal phase?
- How is a short luteal phase diagnosed?
- Treatment options
- How can I naturally lengthen my luteal phase?
What is a short luteal phase?
In the first half of your cycle, your body prepares for ovulation. After your ovaries have released an egg, you enter the luteal phase. This is when your body prepares for that egg to potentially grow into a baby.
The luteal phase lasts for the final 11-17 days in your cycle (the average is 12-14). A short luteal phase is when your period arrives less than 10 days after the egg is released.
Is having a short luteal phase bad?
Those PMS symptoms we all know and love take place in the second half of your cycle. A shorter luteal phase might mean you spend fewer days dealing with bloating, sluggishness, sore boobs, and/or mood swings. But everyone’s different.
However, unfortunately, it’s true that a short luteal phase can sometimes make it more difficult to get pregnant. This is because your body isn’t responding as strongly to the progesterone hormone, which tells it to thicken the lining of your uterus.
This means that there’s a lower chance of a fertilized egg successfully implanting. You can still conceive with a 10-day luteal phase, for example, but it might take more time.
What causes a short luteal phase?
Many different hormonal imbalances and outside factors can cause a short luteal phase:
- A thyroid condition — over and underactive thyroids can have the same effect
- Your bodyweight — again, being over or underweight can have an impact
- Your age
- Stress — we’re talking travel, illness, big changes, or any other work or life stress that’s taking up space in your head.
How do you know if you have a short luteal phase?
Many women have never heard of the luteal phase before they start TTC. Our cycles naturally vary, and many of us don’t experience symptoms that let us pin down the exact day we ovulate.
A good way to know that something is off with your cycle is to track your basal body temperature (BBT). After ovulation, your BBT increases. This is a fairly good sign that you’re in the luteal phase. If temperature tracking isn’t an option for you, your doctor can also investigate the following “short luteal phase symptoms”:
- A shorter-than-normal menstrual cycle, or consistently early periods
- Spotting between periods
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Pregnancy loss (miscarriage)
How is a short luteal phase diagnosed?
Your doctor can do a range of tests to see if your symptoms are caused by a short luteal phase.
The first step is usually a blood test to check your hormone levels – especially FSH (which ripens the egg in your ovary), LH (which sparks ovulation), and progesterone (which gets your uterus ready for pregnancy).
Your doctor may also want to check your uterine lining, especially its thickness at different times of the month. This can be done with an endometrial biopsy or with an ultrasound.
The normal medical treatments for a short luteal phase that may be recommended if you’re having challenges conceiving are:
Clomiphene citrate, for example, stimulates your body to make more of your eggs ready for fertilization.
Taking progesterone can encourage your uterine lining to thicken enough to support a developing embryo.
How can I naturally lengthen my luteal phase?
Everything’s connected, and you may have already noticed patterns in your cycle where a stressful event can make your period come early or late.
If you can manage your stress levels, there’s a chance that your luteal phase will return to a more regular 12-14 days. It’s also recommended that you avoid smoking and keep your body fit, although overexercising can make the problem worse.
And remember, If you want to talk ovulation, luteal phases, or anything else TTC with other women who’re going through it, the women on Peanut are there for you.