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Short Luteal Phase

If you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s important to understand all the phases of your menstrual cycle: they all play into a successful pregnancy. The follicular phase gets a lot of attention, because it all leads up to ovulation: the release of a fertile egg ready to be inseminated, and you can’t conceive if you don’t ovulate.

The luteal phase is less widely discussed but it’s still important to be informed about this phase of your menstrual cycle, and the effects it can have on your fertility. Even if you regularly ovulate spontaneously, if your luteal phase is too short, it can still have an adverse effect on your fertility that can make getting pregnant a challenge.

What is the Luteal Phase?

Your menstrual cycle can be divided into two halves, with ovulation the centre point. The follicular phase is when your body prepares to ovulate (this also covers your period, which marks the beginning of your cycle and is your body clearing out the preparations for pregnancy it made last time).

All your hormones in the follicular phase are given over to stimulating the growth and maturation of follicles – small sacs containing immature eggs. The healthiest develops to full maturity and is released while the others are reabsorbed by the body.

After you ovulate, your body shifts from the follicular phase to the luteal phase. This means your hormones are now focused on preparing your body to receive that egg, in the expectation that it will be fertilised. In the luteal phase, your endometrial (also known as the uterine) lining thickens. This means that when your egg enters the womb it has somewhere to implant and be nourished as it divides and becomes a foetus, which grows into a baby.

Your luteal phase should last for ten days at a minimum, and can be as long as sixteen days. This means that when your egg enters your womb it has a thick, broad expanse of lining to implant onto.

If your luteal phase is under ten days then you might find that the egg isn’t able to implant, so even if you’re ovulating and that egg is being fertilised, you could still experience difficulty getting pregnant.

Lengthening Your Luteal Phase

If your luteal phase is too short, causing you fertility problems, you’ll need to look into lengthening it. Many of these revolve around diet, and making sure you have enough key nutrients in your diet or taken as supplements to make sure your body’s cycle runs to a regular length.

Fresh fruit and green vegetables are rich in B-nutrients and neurotransmitters that regulate your hormones and supplements like Inositol can help to top up your reserves even further, especially if you’re suffering from PCOS.

The best thing you can do, of course, is talk to your doctor: either your GP or a fertility specialist to learn exactly what’s going on and what you can do for the best.