Reviewed by

Uwe Porters - Mid-wife / Pregnancy & Postpartum Expert

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Understanding a Short Luteal Phase

Reviewed by

Uwe Porters - Mid-wife / Pregnancy & Postpartum Expert

 

At Guud Woman, we’re always a bit surprised to learn how many women are in the dark about their menstrual cycle. It’s not your fault. Most women aren’t taught about their cycle growing up and as a result, it remains a mystery pretty much until you want to have a baby, or if you encounter any problems.

In this post, we want to talk about a short luteal phase, which is one of the four phases of your menstrual cycle. If you didn’t know there were four phases, then before you read any further, we suggest you read our post called The Four Phases of Your Cycle. Time to get clued up, ladies!

In short, your period (the time when you’re bleeding) is your menstrual phase. This is the part you’re probably most familiar with but your cycle is actually a pretty incredible multi-step process that repeats every single month. The first day of your last period is the start of the follicular phase. This is when a follicle in one of your ovaries prepares to release an egg. Then you reach the ovulation stage where an egg is released from your ovary and into the Fallopian tube. After ovulation, you enter the luteal phase, which is what this post is all about. A normal luteal phase lasts from 11 to 17 days.

What happens during the luteal phase?

After ovulation, when the egg is released, your body kicks into high gear, preparing the uterine lining for a possible baby to snuggle into. All of this happens behind the scenes without you even knowing about it. The follicle in your ovary that contained the egg before ovulation changes into something called the corpus luteum. The main function of the corpus luteum is to release the hormone progesterone. Progesterone is a really important female hormone and in this process, it stimulates the growth or thickening of your uterus which is what prepares your uterus for the possible implantation of a fertilized egg (aka an embryo).

You’ve probably never given a lot of thought to your luteal phase but it is a really important part of your cycle. If you’re interested in having a baby, you may be more aware of your luteal phase. That’s because some women have a shorter than average luteal phase which can make it harder to get pregnant.

What causes a short luteal phase?

Sometimes, this luteal phase doesn't get to do its job properly because it's too short. How short is too short? A normal luteal phase is 11-17 days but if yours is less than 8 days, it is considered short. Why does this happen?

Often, a short luteal phase is because your body is not producing enough progesterone. When you don’t have enough of this important hormone, it means that the lining of your uterus is not thick enough for a fertilized egg to implant or stay implanted. This can make it harder to get pregnant, and can sometimes result in an early miscarriage.

If you have recently suffered a miscarriage, we want you to know that you are not alone. We have a blog post here about early pregnancy loss which you may find helpful. And feel to reach out to our experts for help, anytime. We are here to help.

Any woman can develop a short luteal phase, but there are a few health conditions that increase the risk of a short luteal phase including:

How can you tell if you have a short luteal phase?

How do you know if you're dealing with a short luteal phase? Well, sometimes your body drops a few hints – like having your period show up earlier than expected or spotting between periods. But often, the real indicator comes when you're struggling to get pregnant or experiencing recurrent early miscarriages. It's like your body's trying to tell you something is not right.

If you are struggling with any of the symptoms of a short luteal phase, it might be time to book an appointment to see your doctor.

If a doctor suspects a short luteal phase, they might try several different tests including a blood test to measure your levels of hormones or an ultrasound to see how thick the lining of your uterus is. These tests will also help rule out other causes for fertility issues.

Are there any treatment options for a short luteal phase?

Sometimes just tweaking your lifestyle – like chilling out on the intense workouts or finding some zen with meditation – can make a big difference. Other times, supplements or medications might be in order to help balance things out.

When stress or exercise are causing a problem, treatment may be as simple as:

  • Reducing the intensity of your exercise and instead, doing some easy-to-moderate exercise instead
  • Building a meditation habit or doing daily breathing techniques
  • Reducing workload, if possible, or taking a break from commitments

If the underlying cause of the short luteal phase can’t be linked to either stress or exercise, you can also consider some other lifestyle adjustments that can make a big impact on your cycle. Think about:

  • Eating a health, balanced diet including fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Reducing or eliminating sugar, caffeine and alcohol
  • Adding a supplement to your routine to help regulate hormones
  • Getting adequate and quality sleep each night

We really can’t overstate how much of an impact lifestyle changes can have on your overall hormonal health and menstrual cycle. Our bodies are like these finely tuned machines, right? So, treating them right with healthy habits can really work wonders.

We’re here for you

If you’re concerned that you may have symptoms of a short luteal phase, or you’re struggling to conceive, book an appointment with your doctor who will be able to assess your situation and build a personalised plan. If you aren’t sure and you’re just feeling confused, talk to one of our experts. We will listen and offer the support you deserve. Armed with a little knowledge and some TLC for our bodies, we can tackle anything that comes our way.