Why? Simple. If your luteal phase is too short, the egg may not have sufficient time to implant and burrow into the uterine lining before the progesterone starts to decrease, signaling the body to shed the lining and become your next period. If the luteal phase is sufficiently long, the egg has plenty of time to implant and signals the ovaries to start producing hCG, the hormone detected in over-the-counter pregnancy tests.
The length of your luteal phase can also be a key early indicator of pregnancy--if your luteal phases are regularly 12-13 days long, but one cycle it is still going strong on day 15, there is a very good possibility you are pregnant. (This is only true if you chart and know the exact date of your ovulation. Apps that try to "predict" your ovulation are nowhere near precise enough.)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF MY LUTEAL PHASE IS TOO SHORT?
HOW DO I KNOW IF THERE ARE PROBLEMS WITH MY LUTEAL PHASE, OR IF IT'S JUST A LITTLE ON THE SHORT SIDE?
In general, you should not worry about your luteal phase length unless you have experienced several of the following:
- Your luteal phase is shorter than 10 days;
- You start spotting a few days before your period;
- You have experienced two or more early recurrent miscarriages;
- You have been diagnosed with low progesterone;
- Your cycle is shorter than 25 days;
- Your temperature does not stay above the coverline for your entire luteal phase.
IF OVULATION IS DELAYED, DOES THAT MEAN MY NEXT PERIOD ISDELAYED TOO?
So, in general, if you want to know when your next period will be, you'll always know the right date if you know when you've ovulated and you know the length of your average luteal phase.
I'M NOT TRYING TO GET PREGNANT. DO I STILL NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MY LUTEAL PHASE?
Not to mention, if you ever are planning on trying to have children, it's a great idea to practice charting now so that you understand your body and your cycles when the time is right. It can also help you troubleshoot potential problems in advance so that when the time comes, your body is as ready as it can be for getting pregnant.
Even if you never plan on having children, knowing your regular menstrual cycle can help you pinpoint any irregularities that could indicate much larger problems, like PCOS, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, or even ovarian cancer.
CAN I CHANGE THE LENGTH OF MY LUTEAL PHASE IF IT'S TOO SHORT?
- Regular exercise
- Get 8 hours of sleep each night
- Progesterone suppositories/supplements/creams (usually available from your doctor--it is extremely important to follow dosage and instructions!)
- Vitex--an over-the-counter supplement containing chaste berry, which helps balance your estrogen/progesterone balance
- Avoid plastics--many of them have estrogen-like substances (xenoestrogens) in them that can cause estrogen dominance
- Avoid factory farmed meat--chicken, pork, and beef all usually have hormones injected in them routinely to fatten them up. It gets passed through the meat into our systems
- Avoid milk and dairy as much as possible, for the same reasons
There are many other suggestions and ways to improve a short luteal phase--talk with a fertility awareness educator for more information.
HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY LUTEAL PHASE BEGINS AND ENDS?
CAN I JUST ESTIMATE OVULATION FOR DETERMINING THE LENGTH OF MY LUTEAL PHASE?
Becoming an expert your own luteal phase can provide you with incredible peace of mind if you're trying to conceive (or even if you're not). Imagine knowing the exact length of your luteal phase, or being able to spot problems with your cycle before your RE does! That is the power of fertility awareness. If you want to get started charting, click here to learn more.
Do you have a question about the luteal phase? Leave a comment below!