While trying to conceive, it's very likely that you will start to try and understand your luteal phase. You are right to be considering it, as the luteal phase is a very important part of the menstrual cycle. During this phase, fertilization and implantation occurs. It is essential that the hormones are balanced to allow for a sufficient luteal phase in order to support an implanting pregnancy.
If your luteal phase is too short (less than 9 days) may cause complications in trying to conceive. The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to help increase your luteal phase.
What is the luteal phase and why is it important?
The luteal phase is the time between the day on which you ovulate until the start of your next period. If your egg is successfully fertilized, it will go through several stages of development before implanting in the uterine wall. It takes around a week from day of fertilization for the fertilized egg to travel down the fallopian tube and reach the uterus for implantation. Once it implants progesterone should continue to rise, and the fertilized egg will develop into an embryo. For this reason your luteal phase needs to be at least 9 days long on average for you to successfully sustain a pregnancy. Measuring the length of your luteal phase accurately is the essential starting point, but let's first talk about ways in which you can increase the length of your luteal phase naturally.
Ensure an adequate supply of Vitamin C in your diet - research shows vitamin C improves hormone levels and increases fertility in some women with luteal phase defect. Foods rich in vitamin C are: papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, sprouts, strawberry and oranges. Essential fatty acids – these are vital for balanced hormone production.
Many women have low omega 3. Some foods rich in essential fatty acids are walnuts, salmon, sardines and scallops. Green leafy vegetables - green vegetables are rich in vitamin B complex and are necessary for good hormonal balance.
Vitex (Chasteberry) This herb has been used for centuries to treat women’s health problems including infertility. Research has shown that this herb effectively lengthens the luteal phase. It also helps the body to increase its own production of luteinizing hormone (promoting ovulation to occur), which in turns boosts progesterone levels during the luteal phase of the cycle. Be careful with this supplement as it is very potent. If you are not careful you can end up doing more damage than good, so always consult a qualified herbalist if you are considering this treatment.
Studies have been found to show that women who had luteal phase defect have significantly lower levels of antioxidants than healthy women. Around 40% of sperm damage is also thought to be cause by oxidizing free radicals. Make antioxidants part of your every day foods for the both of you by enjoying blackberries, blueberries, garlic, kale, strawberries, sprouts, plums, broccoli and red peppers.
Although there is limited research in to the benefits of acupuncture to support fertility, anecdotally women report positive changes to their menstrual cycle, and in particular, the luteal phase when using fertility acupuncture.
There are medical treatments available to help with luteal phase defect and, if you are considering this option, take the opportunity to discuss the possible treatments with your doctor.
Monitoring your luteal phase
To measure your luteal phase, it's essential you can accurately pinpoint the day on which you ovulate in each cycle. The most accurate way to do this is with continuous Core Body Temperature, which is why I recommend the OvuSense system to all my clients. If your doctor uses the OvuSense Pro system then this will help alert them whether your luteal phase is too short, as well as help to identify other potential issues with your cycle patterns.
If you are an OvuSense customer you are entitled to a FREE 1 hour consultation with one of the OvuSense Fertility Nurses. Consultations are held by Skype or Telephone. If you don't see a time that suits you, then just fill out our support form by clicking here.