OvuSense logo

What's the Luteal Phase?

In fertility discussions, we talk a lot about ovulation – and rightly so. It’s important, and if this single event is missed, delayed or experiences other problems, it can have a huge impact on your fertility. It’s not the only thing happening in your body, though, and if the problem with your fertility is elsewhere, over focusing on when you ovulate won’t get you closer to a solution.

Today we’re taking a look at the luteal phase: less frequently discussed than ovulation or the follicular phase that leads up to it but equally important. This is the part of your menstrual cycle that prepares your uterus to receive a fertilised egg and makes sure it’s got everything it needs to nurture that blastocyst (the scientific term for a fertilised egg in the early stages of cell division) into an embryo, a foetus and eventually a baby.

When Does it Begin?

The luteal phase starts with ovulation – when the egg is released from the ovaries, the remains of the sac it was matured in transform into an endocrine structure called the Corpus Luteum.

Your endocrine system is your body’s hormone messenger system – the collection of hormones your body uses to activate and regulate processes, and the organs it uses to create those hormones. An endocrine structure is one of those organs.

The Corpus Luteum secretes progesterone, the hormone that encourages your body to begin creating a thick lining in the uterus. This uterine (or endometrial) lining is what will cushion the egg as it drops into the uterus from the fallopian tubes. It will anchor there and continue to divide and grow. Initially the Corpus Luteum causes the growth and thickening of this lining. If the egg is successfully fertilised and implants in the lining, the progesterone ensures the endometrial lining is maintained, so the egg can be held securely as it develops.

Into Pregnancy

As the blastocyst develops towards being a foetus, the lining itself will develop into the placenta, that links the growing baby to the mother’s own body, pouring in nutrients and draining away toxins and waste products.

A healthy luteal phase is vital for a successful pregnancy in the long term. If your luteal phase is short, it could result in a uterine lining that an egg can’t anchor in even if you ovulate regularly and spontaneously, and that egg is fertilised!

Longer Luteal Phases

If you’re looking to lengthen your luteal phase one of the most important things you can do is make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C – this is one of the few substances that is directly linked to progesterone production, and if you’re suffering a deficit, your luteal phase may be suffering. Adding more fresh fruit and vegetables or a supplement to your diet could give you the boost you need!