The luteal phase of your menstrual cycle is a key time that you should pay attention to. This is the period in which your body prepares for pregnancy and if you don't know what's going on with your body, it can be difficult to manage.
In this article, we will answer all the questions about the luteal phase so that you have a better understanding of when things are happening during this important part of your cycle.
What is the luteal phase?
The luteal phase is the time in between your menstrual cycle when you are not menstruating.
You may also know this as the "post-ovulation" period of your cycle or even just "the second half of your cycle".
The length of the luteal phase can vary from woman to woman but typically runs anywhere from 12-16 days depending on the length of your menstrual cycle.
If it is less than 10 days, a short luteal phase doesn’t give the uterine lining a chance to grow and develop enough support for growing a baby.
If you notice this in your cycle, contact your doctor.
On the other hand, a long luteal phase could be due to a hormone imbalance, or a long lapse since you ovulated could mean that you’re pregnant.
To understand what the luteal phase is you must also understand how a woman’s cycle each month works in tandem with the other phases.
The Menstrual Cycle
- When you get your period (which is day 1 of your cycle) your body is shedding the lining of your uterus that would prepare itself for a potential baby.
- Then your body enters the follicular phase where estrogen climbs and begins to reline your uterus.
- Generally, at the midpoint of your cycle, your body releases an egg that could be fertilized during ovulation.
- After you ovulate, you enter the luteal phase that if the egg was fertilized, your uterus would be preparing itself for a safe place for the baby. Pregnancy begins once a fertilized egg attaches to the womb. If the egg is not fertilized, it breaks apart and you begin your period again.
Woof. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk more about what this phase means and how you can take advantage of it!
What happens during the luteal phase?
During this time, if a woman does become pregnant then the luteal phase will continue until the pregnancy can sustain itself.
During this time, your body produces progesterone which helps thicken and help prepare your uterine lining for a potential fertilized egg (or embryo).
If you do not become pregnant during this period of time then eventually your levels of progesterone will start dropping (potentially causing PMS) and you will start your next period.
Tell me the meaning of the luteal phase?
Your body is preparing itself for a potential pregnancy. If there is no existence of a fertilized egg or the hormone values are not optimal then the menstrual cycle begins. The corpus luteum forms just before that. During the luteal phase, the productions of progesterone and estrogen start increasing helping to prepare the uterine lining for possible fertilization. The yolk.
Hormone levels during your menstrual cycle
What are the symptoms of the luteal phase?
Typically, if you are pregnant during this time period, then it is unlikely that you will have any symptoms of pregnancy because your body has already adapted to the progesterone levels.
However, there are some women who may experience nausea or fatigue but typically these types of symptoms come towards the end of a luteal phase when progesterone starts dropping.
If you are not pregnant, you may experience bloating, lower energy levels, and cravings during the luteal phase due to progesterone levels dropping.
This will also come toward the end of this phase as you approach your period.
How is basal body temperature affected during the luteal phase?
Progesterone produced by the corpus luteum following ovulation causes a woman’s basal body temperature (BBT) to rise slightly by around 0.5-1 degrees Fahrenheit. It remains elevated until your period comes then it returns to your body’s baseline temperature. If you get pregnant, then your BBT may remain elevated beyond the day you expected your period to start.
Measuring your basal metabolic temperature throughout your cycle can help you tell if you have already ovulated and entered the luteal phase.
Can you get pregnant in the luteal phase?
Your chances of conceiving are low in a normal functioning luteal phase.
A short luteal phase does not give the female lining enough of a chance in pregnancy for it to mature properly for growth or to develop. This makes it harder to get pregnant or take longer to conceive.
A prolonged luteal phase may be caused by a hormone imbalance like polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS.
How long does the luteal phase need to be to get pregnant?
The corpus luteum is highly important if a person is trying to get pregnant. Normally the luteal phase has an average duration of 12 to 16 days. But some women think this phase can be shorter than 10 days. A shorter luteal phase could make it more difficult for a woman to have babies.
What happens in the luteal phase if I'm pregnant?
During the luteal phase the organs produce a greater progesterone production which helps with the recovery phase and pregnancy. This is what the luteal phase is for: to prepare your body for pregnancy. Progesterone levels peak at 6- 8 weeks following ovulation, even with pregnancy.
Why is the luteal phase important?
The luteal phase of your menstrual cycle can be an important time that determines whether or not you become pregnant. If conception does occur during this period then progesterone will continue to rise and cause your uterine lining to thicken in order for a fertilized egg to attach and sustain life.
Your body is always preparing for a baby post-ovulation.
What do I eat during the luteal phase?
The foods that you consume can have a huge impact on your menstrual cycle.
During the luteal phase, we recommend sticking to high-quality carbohydrates such as brown rice and oats to get plenty of energy without too much sugar or caffeine (which may cause fluctuations in energy).
In the luteal phase, your body thinks you might be pregnant so it's storing more fuel for the baby and causing you to crave more carbs. Foods like asparagus and other foods that are high in vitamin A can help you during this phase as well.
You might also feel hungrier during this time of the month. Your body needs between 200-500 more calories during the luteal phase than other phases of the month.
This is thanks to a combination of estrogen and progesterone making your body more efficient at using fat for fuel.
So, in the end, you may eat more due to your hormone levels, but it all balances itself out with the extra calories.
How do I work out during the luteal phase?
During the luteal phase, we recommend that you work out between two and three times per week.
The best types of workouts to get during this time are low-intensity cardio such as a long walk outside or light jogging on the treadmill for around 30 minutes at a pace where you can still carry a conversation without being too winded.
You are more prone to injury during the luteal phase due to the fluctuating estrogen levels, so it is important to give your body the proper rest in between workouts.
Relationship between Luteal Phase Defects and Miscarriages
A luteal period defect is only a theoretical cause of miscarriage. It is possible that the embryo's uterus is not ready for fertilization. That is because if the uterus does not have enough room to support a pregnancy a woman may not be able to have the pregnancy implant properly and hence be misdiagnosed. Luteal phase deficiency also known as deficiency or luteal phase failure--this means there is a defect in the uterine lining. This leads to the insufficient size of the uterus. There are many different possible causes of a miscarriage and the luteal phase of a woman's cycle is just a small part of it.
Symptoms of a Luteal Phase Defect
- Any vaginal spotting before your period
- A luteal phase that’s 11 days or shorter in length
- Trouble getting pregnant
- A slow or low rise in BBT following ovulation
- Repeated miscarriages
Top things to know about the luteal phase
Our entire female cycle revolves around the potential of us reproducing. Everything about our bodies starts to make sense the sooner we realize this aspect of our female makeup.
- Your body thinks it could be pregnant and it is preparing just in case you are.
- Your progesterone levels are significantly higher in this phase and significantly drop the closer you get to your period.
- You burn more fat causing you to feel hungrier. You will need 200-300 more calories during this time.
- Toward the end of your luteal phase you will most likely experience those PMS symptoms.
Although these different phases of our cycles can be confusing and oftentimes mood-swinging, the sooner we learn the sooner we can take advantage of our cycles and make our periods smarter.
We hope this guide helped you understand more about what happens during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle!
If you are suffering from any symptoms or issues related to PMS then make sure that you check out our blog posts on herbal remedies.
DISCLAIMER: This content was written for informational purposes to educate women only. It is not medical advice.