Although menstruation gets the most attention, other phases of your cycle are just as important. Ovulation is essentially the star of your cycle, and without the follicular and luteal phases, it wouldn't exist.
If you are trying to get pregnant, you might focus entirely on the ovulation phase because you know that you have to have sex during your ovulation phase to increase your chances of conceiving.
However, you should also make sure your luteal phase is in top shape because it is just as crucial to conception.
Remember, pregnancy is a two-part process: ovulation and implantation. So let's take a look at each phase of your cycle, particularly the importance of the luteal phase.
The Four Cycle Phases
During menstruation, the lining of the uterus (endometrium) sheds. Every woman experiences different menstruation symptoms. Some women have short, pain-free periods. Others have long periods with sporadic cramps.
Neither one is generally considered to be a sign of a problem. The best thing you can do is study the pattern of your periods and make sure they are typically the same each month.
Your follicular phase begins on the last day of your period. The pituitary gland releases FSH to stimulate your ovaries to produce follicles. Each follicle contains an egg, which could become an embryo if it fuses with a sperm cell.
The follicles will continue to grow throughout the follicular phase until one egg is released during ovulation. The rest of the follicles will degrade. Interestingly, the growth of these follicles signals to the body that it must thicken the uterine lining once again in case the egg fuses with a sperm and has to implant.
The ovulation phase is essentially everything your body has been working for. The egg is released from the ovary into the fallopian tube during this phase.
The prime event is triggered by a surge of LH, which can be measured by ovulation predictor kits.
Surprisingly, the egg is alive for only 24 hours after leaving the ovary. If it fuses with a sperm cell during this time, it will survive as it implants successfully in the uterus. However, it is excreted if it does not merge with a sperm cell.
As the egg travels down the fallopian tube, the follicle, which once held it, becomes the corpus luteum. You can think of it as an empty sac that releases progesterone and a small amount of estrogen. These hormones signal the body to thicken the endometrium and prepare it for implantation.
If implantation occurs, progesterone and estrogen stay elevated. However, if the egg does not implant, the corpus luteum dies, and the drop in hormones triggers menstruation once again.
Note: It is crucial to track your progesterone levels and LH to ensure that you ovulate and release an egg with each cycle.
What Is the Purpose Of the Luteal Phase
A typical luteal phase lasts anywhere between 11 and 17 days. While most women of reproductive age fall between this range, some women experience luteal phase defect (LPD) or a short luteal phase.
A short luteal phase poses a problem for women who want to become pregnant because it makes the implantation process much harder.
The body doesn't produce enough progesterone during a short luteal phase, and the uterine lining does not fully develop. If the egg does implant, having a miscarriage is possible because low progesterone can shed the uterine lining prematurely and excrete the fertilized embryo.
Causes and Symptoms of Short Luteal Phase
Some common causes of LPD include endometriosis, PCOS, thyroid disorders, obesity, and anorexia.
The symptoms of a short luteal phase are not always obvious. You might not even realize you have the problem until you can’t conceive.
However, there are a few symptoms that could give you a glimpse into this issue:
- You get your periods quickly after ovulation.
- You tend to see spotting between periods.
- You’ve had a miscarriage.
One way to discover the length of your luteal phase is to use a hormone tracking kit, like Oova. Oova uses advanced image processing to measure precise hormone levels from your urine, like progesterone, and give you more fertility answers in the comfort of your home.
You Have A Short Luteal Phase? Here Are The Next Steps?
If you discover you have a short luteal phase, the best thing you can do is tell your doctor about it. They can prescribe progesterone supplements or other alternatives to treat the problem.
Having a short luteal phase can pose difficulties if you try to get pregnant, but it does not mean you can’t have children. There are various treatment options, so don’t lose hope!
Keeping track of your cycle is an excellent way to stay ahead of the issue and catch it early. Learn more about Oova and start tracking your cycle today!
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