March 4, 2022 | Dr. Patti Haebe, NMD
A short luteal phase has been known to cause issues with implantation and difficulty getting pregnant. Today we’ll talk about what it is, what causes it, and what it means for your chances of getting pregnant.
What is the Luteal Phase of the menstrual cycle?
Your cycle is made up of 2 phases:
- The Follicular phase- This includes the day you begin bleeding on your period up to ovulation day.
- The Luteal Phase- This is the second half of your cycle after ovulation occurs and typically lasts 11-17 days.
When does implantation occur?
You may have heard women talk about implantation bleeding, this occurs sometimes when a fertilized egg implants into the uterine lining. As it embeds itself, it can cause mild pink or brown spotting. Implantation bleeding only lasts for a few days typically.
Implantation typically occurs 6-10 days past ovulation, this is why a luteal phase length of at least 10 days is essential. If a period begins before the egg has time to fully implant, it causes difficulty getting pregnant and if this happens repeatedly is called “Luteal Phase Defect”.
What causes a short luteal phase?
A short luteal phase is often caused by the body not producing enough progesterone after ovulation to maintain the uterine lining long enough for a fertilized egg to implant. When the lining is not thickened and can’t be maintained by progesterone, either a pregnancy cannot begin or the pregnancy results in early miscarriage.
So can I still get pregnant with a short luteal phase?
The answer is yes, as long as you can extend your luteal phase beyond 9 days. It’s important to get to the root of what is causing your shortened luteal phase. Your healthcare provider can help walk you through some potential causes and treatment options.
Studies have also shown that women who only have a short luteal phase on occasion do not have decreases in fertility long term. However, recurrent short luteal phase should be addressed at the root.
Some studies have shown women benefiting from using the herb Vitex agnus-castus (also known as chaste tree berry) over the course of 3 months to lengthen the luteal phase.
A more conventional approach includes decreasing stress levels using stress management techniques and limiting intensive cardiovascular exercise. Some doctors will also prescribe bioidentical progesterone to supplement any lack of progesterone being produced by your body.
Sum it up!
Our luteal phase is essential for the implantation of the fertilized egg. When the luteal phase is too short, there may not be enough time for the egg to implant before the period begins. This could be from low progesterone or stressors.
Consider using a basal body temperature thermometer (BBT) to track your temperatures. Keep a close eye on your Luteal Phase temperatures because you want to see that number continue to be nice and high after ovulation. You also want to see it continue to be high throughout early pregnancy, or see it swiftly drop when your period begins after at least 10 days.