The luteal phase is the period of time between ovulation and menstruation in a women’s cycle. The average luteal phase lasts anywhere from 10 to 17 days long. A luteal phase defect, or LPD, occurs when the luteal phase is less than 10 days long. Having a short luteal phase can affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant, and if she does get pregnant, it will most likely end in a miscarriage. However, there are ways to correct a luteal phase defect.
What Causes a Luteal Phase Defect?
During the first half of a woman’s cycle, her body produces follicle stimulating hormone, or FSH. This is what causes a mature egg to form. If not enough FSH is produced, or a woman’s ovaries do not respond properly to the FSH, inadequate progesterone is produced. This in turn leads to a short luteal phase and causes a woman to get her period early. In some women, the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone, does not last as long as it should. This causes a drop in progesterone and early menstruation. Finally, a luteal phase defect can occur even when enough progesterone is produced. In this case, the uterine lining does not respond to the progesterone, and thus even if fertilization occurs, the embryo will not be able to implant itself into the uterus and a miscarriage will result.
How a Diagnosis is Made
If a woman suspects that she has a luteal phase deficiency, she should see her ob/gyn or midwife. There are several ways a diagnosis of LPD can be made. One way is through a serum progesterone test. This is a blood test, done seven days past ovulation, that will check the levels of progesterone. Another way to make a diagnosis is through ultrasound. This test is done in the middle of a woman’s cycle and is done to get a look at the uterine lining. A third option is to perform an endometrial biopsy. A few days before a women is expected to get her period, a small sample of the uterine ling is obtained and examined by a pathologist. Any or all of the above procedures may be done to determine the best treatment route.
Correcting a Luteal Phase Defect
There are several ways to correct a luteal phase deficiency. One natural way to remedy a short luteal phase is by taking vitamin B6, available at any health food store or pharmacy. An ob/gyn or midwife can recommend the amount of B6 a woman should take. Progesterone cream or progesterone supplements are another treatment option. Clomiphene citrate, or Clomid, may be prescribed. An injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (Hcg) is also sometimes given to help stimulate the corpus luteum.
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