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How Long Does A Luteal Phase Need To Be To Get Pregnant?

How Long Does A Luteal Phase Need To Be To Get Pregnant?

Kindara | June 18, 2021 | trying to conceive
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When Jess was trying to conceive, she charted her ovulation and quickly noticed that something was up. The timing from the surge in her luteinizing hormone to her next period was short — only 10-11 days, as opposed to more than 14 days. After discovering her luteal phase was a few days too short to maintain a pregnancy, Jess began using natural progesterone to extend her phase length and sure enough, she became pregnant soon after. Turns out treating a luteal phase defect was the only thing standing in the way of her and a positive sign. Let's get into LPD: its causes, its treatment, and why it's important for you to know about it.

Hear Jess telling her story here.

What is LPD? 

LPD is a condition in which low progesterone levels and limited growth in the uterine lining  disrupts ovulation and fetal development. The luteal phase usually takes place between Day 12 and Day 16 of one's menstrual cycle (keep in mind that not everyone has a 28 day cycle). In it, your progesterone levels increase and your uterine lining builds up, in preparation for ovulation. What ultimately causes ovulation is a surge of luteinizing hormone (LH), which results in the release of that egg. If your luteal phase is short, you won't generate enough progesterone to cause the spike in LH necessary for ovulation, and the endometrial lining, which thickens in order to house the embryo so it can develop safely, won't thicken. Between the impact LPD has on ovulation and on the lining, LPD can make it challenging to get pregnant and stay that way, so in addition to miscarriages and difficulty conceiving,  its symptoms include spotting between periods, and a short time between ovulation and menstruation, which you might catch if you're tracking your period (2). 

Seeking an effortless and accurate way to capture your Luteal Phase length? Learn more about Priya Fertility for ovulation and cycle tracking below. 

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Detecting and Treating LPD. 

There's no reliable test for LPD (more on this later), but if you suspect something is up, tracking your cycle can help. The number of days from that LH surge, which you may be able to detect via ovulation predictor kits, to the start of your period is typically 13-15 days, and from ovulation to your period 12 to 14 days, so less than 12 days is considered abnormal  and might be a reason to visit your doctor (3). 

If one does have low progesterone levels, some doctors may opt to prescribe progesterone supplements to help in supporting pregnancy. According to a 2017 study in which progesterone was given to those with recurrent pregnancy loss at the start of the luteal phase (before fertilization), there was improved pregnancy success (4). 

Some doctors recommend the use of fertility drugs such as Clomid in treating LPD, since it causes the ovaries to stimulate more follicles and release eggs during ovulation. leading to the release of viable eggs during ovulation. However, a 2014 study revealed that LPD was observed in spite of the introduction of clomid (5).  

If you suspect that something is going on with your hormones, visit your doctor for a blood test to see what's up.  Other medical conditions can cause low progesterone, such as  polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hypothyroidism, and endometriosis, which makes it important to nail down exactly what is causing it in order to address it effectively. Smoking has also been associated with a short luteal phase, so your health care provider may advise you to quit (6). 

The controversy around LPD 

LPD was first defined in 1949 by Georgeanna Seegar Jones, a reproductive endocrinologist who, along with her husband, Howard W. Jones, pioneered IVF technology (7). Seegar Jones conducted a study in which she evaluated 98 women with infertility not caused by tubal, uterine, lack of ovulation (also known as anovulation), or male factor, and noticed that the luteal phase was delayed, concluding that the LH surge was likely inadequate (8). While ovulation challenges do factor into infertility issues, LPD itself is associated with controversy. 

In 2012, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) released a committee opinion stating that there wasn't enough scientific evidence to deem LPD an independent cause of infertility (9). While an endometrial biopsy was once considered the best means of detecting LPD, the ASRM opinion states that the method hasn't actually diagnosed it, and cited a study in which it was shown that actually diagnosing LPD with endometrial biopsy was extremely unlikely (10) (11). A 2017 study of 284 women ages 30-44, with no known infertility issues 

indicated  those with abbreviated luteal phase had a slightly lower (0.82 times) rate of pregnancy than those without a short luteal phase, but after 12 months, there was no difference in the probability of pregnancy for women, regardless of whether or not their luteal phases were short or not (12). 

It's controversial as to whether or not treatment specifically for LPD actually improves pregnancy outcomes, or if treating an underlying condition is what can resolve the situation. No matter what, tracking your menstrual cycle and bringing any concerns you have to your doctor can bring you one step closer to learning more. 

Before you see a fertility specialist, consider if Priya Fertility is for you. Learn more about your cycle, including ovulation prediction, ovulation confirmation and luteal phase length. If you need to see a fertility specialist, Priya Fertility provides valuable cycle insights for your doctor for a more personalized treatment plan.

Looking for a new way to identify your fertile window? Check out the Priya Personal Fertility System! 

About the author
Chanel Dubofsky's writing on gender, reproductive health, popular culture, and religion, can be found in New York Magazine, Lilith, Rewire, Modern Fertility, Cosmopolitan, and others. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Follow her on Instagram at cdubofsky.

References +
1 Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Charting. (2020, October 8). Retrieved April 28, 2021 from 

https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw202058#:~:text=Your%20body%20temperature%20dips%20a,F%20(37%C2%B0C).

2

What is a Luteal Phase Defect? (n.d.) Retrieved April 28, 2021 from https://www.pfcla.com/luteal-phase-defect

3

Luteal Phase Deficiency- does it exist? Can it be treated? (2015, January 15). Retrieved April 28, 2021 from .https://www.nrmvt.com/luteal-phase-deficiency/#:~:text=How%20is%20luteal%20phase%20deficiency,or%20may%20not%20be%20significant.

7

Dr. Georgeanna Seegar Jones. (2015, June 3).  Retrieved April 29, 2021 from https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_291.html

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