Luteal phase defect (LPD) (sometimes called luteal phase deficiency, deficit or insufficiency) is when the luteal phase of your ovulation cycle is too short to allow for the implantation of a fertilized egg.
It takes about 10 days or longer for the fertilized egg to travel from the ovary at ovulation to the uterus for implantation.
So if you have a short luteal phase (from ovulation to menstruation) less than 10 days, then this does not allow enough time for the embryo to implant into the uterine wall (endometrium) before the lining breaks down and you get your period.
Most say that your luteal phase should be at least 12 days, 14 or more days are better.
When pregnancy implantation does not occur then the embryo does not produce hCG the pregnancy hormone and this hormonal signal does not tell the corpus luteum (the follicle the egg what released from) to continue to produce hormones to sustain the pregnancy and it degenerates producing less and less progesterone. As progesterone drops this signals your period to start and flushes everything out.
Remember that even though conception occurs right after ovulation, you are not officially pregnant until implantation occurs. This is when all of the endocrine system is working together to help your body and help your baby grow. This is when the embryo establishes contact with the mother's blood and emits the hCG hormone signaling to your body there is in fact a pregnancy (conception).
So if your luteal phase is shorter than 10 days (or the actual time needed for implantation which is about 10 days usually longer) then it is virtually improbable if not impossible to get pregnant and you are considered to have luteal phase defect.
One of the biggest causes of luteal phase defect is lack of nutrition. Your body is lacking certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that support the proper function of the ovaries, including the ovarian follicles (during the follicular phase) and the corpus luteum (during the luteal phase of your ovulation cycle).
The ovarian follicle the egg comes from at ovulation becomes the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum controls the length of the luteal phase. When it doesn't have the proper nutrients to sustain itself and to continue to produce the hormones necessary for possible pregnancy then it will degenerate prematurely (usually 9 days or less), thus causing a luteal phase defect.
And because that time is not long enough for the fertilized egg to implant into the uterus before your period starts, when the corpus luteum degenerates the hormones will begin to drop and a drop in progesterone will cause your period to start.
Another cause for short luteal phase is hormone imbalance. There are many causes of hormone imbalance. Such as (again) lack of nutrition. Toxins in the body from improper eating habits (processed food, fast food, etc.) and from the environment. Produce with pesticides and meat, eggs and dairy that have been given hormone injections. Not eating a healthy diet to nourish the reproductive organs, exercising too much or too little. Being under-weight or over-weight, and so on. See weight and fertility connection here. Estrogen dominance is a major form of hormone imbalance.
Fortunately, luteal phase defect (short luteal phase) is one the easiest of the fertility problems to treat and correct. Lengthening your luteal phase should not be a problem for most.
Lots of women who have tried taking B6 vitamin to lengthen their luteal phases say it worked for them, me included. And it works rather quickly, too. Mose women report a longer luteal phase the very next month (usually by a day or two).
Many multivitamins and prenatal vitamins do not contain the therapeutic amounts of vitamin B6 to work to correct luteal phase defect.
You should start off low at about 50 mg/day of B6 all cycle long and increase it by 50 mg each month until you reach a max of 200 mg. High doses of synthesized vitamin B6 can cause nerve damage, but you're safe at 200 mg or less.
Studies show that toxicity symptoms show at above 1000mg or higher. However, few woman have complained of nervous symptoms at 200 mg of Vitamin B6. Some of these signs include tingling, pain, and/or numbness in the fingers and/or toes. Quitting the B6 will reverse the symptoms with no lasting nerve damage. So make sure you start low, then increase. Should undesirabe symptoms occur, simply drop back to your prevous dose.
If you are charting your ovulation cycle and basal body temperature, and you should, then you should start to see your short luteal phase lengthen.
It's best if B vitamins are taken together, so take a B6 supplement along with a multi- or prenatal vitamin mix or a B-complex vitamin.
However more recently, I have switched to taking whole food supplements rather than synthesized vitamins, personal choice really.
Alfalfa, Spirulina, Bee Pollen, Watercress, Irish Moss, Kelp, and Blue Green Algae are excellent natural sources of b6. These not only contain naturally occurring B6 but also many other nutrients necessary nourishing the reproductive organs of the endocrine system, so you get more of a total affect or holistic (whole body healing) affect.
Helping your whole body to heal itself is always better than to try to fix a certain symptom (LPD). Get your whole body back into balance and just watch how fast you get pregnant.
Fertilica® UltraGreens is an excellent concentrated fertility superfood that contains many of the foods listed above that contain B6 to help with luteal phase defect. Plus other ingredients that are great for boosting fertility and regulating your cycles and preparing your body for conception.
It's safe to take while TTC and during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so you can take it all month long.
Mix some into teas, or juices, and healthy fertility smoothies.
It's also safe to take these whole food supplements together with b6 vitamin supplements if you so choose. B vitamins are water-soluble and any excess will be eliminated with your urine. However, high doses of synthesized vitamin B6 can cause nerve damage and you should not take more that 200 mg per day of those.
You cannot, however, overdose on whole food supplements such as the ones above (alfalfa, etc.) Because they are food just like eating fruits and vegetables and the B6 they contain are naturally occurring.
And since B vitamins are best when taken together, (B6, B12,...), it's another good reason for whole food supplements since they several vitamins and minerals and other nutrients.
Plus, taking Vitamin B6 for fertility can help to prevent morning sickness during pregnancy.
Note: You know when it's synthesized when you read the ingredients label and it lists vitamins (B6) instead of foods (alfalfa).
Since hormone imbalance is contributed to luteal phase defect, vitex agnus castus, which is a great hormone balancer and menstrual cycle regulator, works for a short luteal phase also.
Studies show that vitex helps normalize progesterone levels and increase the luteal phase of your ovulation cycle so that implantation can take place. Vitex is a whole food supplement made of the berries of the plant.
Vitex is safe to take during pregnancy and can be taken all month long while trying to conceive (TTC). However, the beneficial effects of vitex agnus castus can take awhile to show results. So don't expect immediate changes. It has been shown to take 3 months or more as the herb builds up it's effects in your body.
You can continue to take vitex until the 10th week of pregnancy for the continued support of the corpus luteum (to help prevent miscarriages). At which time hormone production is taken over by the placenta of the fetus. However, if you have been taking vitex for several months, it is best to wean off of vitex agnus castus (after the 10th week), rather than to abruptly stop, so as not to shock your body.
Follow package (or an herbalists) directions as to how much to take.
Red raspberry leaf also balances hormones, not to mention nourish and tone the uterus and much more. It's an excellent TTC herbal supplement.
Red raspberry leaf is best taken as an infusion (tea). This herb has been shown to increase the luteal phase as it nourishes and balances the entire endocrine system.
Take an ounce of the dried leaves put into a glass jar, pour a quart of boiling hot water over it, put the lid on and let sit overnight (at least 4 hours), strain and refrigerate. Then drink (hot or cold) throughout the day at least 3 cups per day. Can be mixed with mint leaves to improve the flavor.
Once pregnant, continue to drink a cup a day during the first trimester, then 2 cups a day during the second trimester and 3 cups a day during the third trimester. As RRL also tones the uterus and readies your body for labor and delivery.
Vitex and Red Raspberry can safely be taken together and actually work better together than alone. Many fertility blends such as FertilAid® and FertiliTea® are made with both herbs among other ingredients known to enhance fertility.
Since low progesterone levels (and/or estrogen dominance) in the luteal phase is another reason for luteal phase defect, a good quality natural progesterone cream can be used to help sustain the corpus luteum and extend the luteal phase for implantation. I use and recommend NatPro® Natural Progesterone Cream. It is the best quality for the best price. Find out why by clicking the link above.
However, if you decide to use progesterone cream, make sure to only use it during the luteal phase of your ovulation cycle (after ovulation until your period starts) and not all cycle long. In this phase, progesterone should be higher than in the follicular phase. If you use it during the follicular phase (before ovulation), then the progesterone cream can actually prevent ovulaton.
Continue to use the progesterone cream after confirming pregnancy to prevent miscarriage due to a sudden drop in progesterone levels. Then wean off slowly after the 10th week of pregnancy.
Make sure to discuss with your prenatal caretaker that you have been using progesterone cream. He/She may wish for you to continue, especially if you've had several miscarriages or early term deliveries. Or may prescribe for you to take progesterone shots instead.
Herbal cleansing is the best way to rid your body of unwanted toxins and excess trapped hormones from your system to naturally balance your hormones and bring your body back into balance to regulate your cycles and lengthen your luteal phase.
Read more about cleansing for fertility here. A fertility cleanse does so much more to prepare your body for conception.
Fertility Cleanse Kits are a great way to start your fertility journey. It's one of the first things to do to when preparing for pregnancy.
You can choose to do any one of these treatments for luteal phase defect or two, three, or all of them. The more you do the better.
And remember do not try these before consulting your health-care provider to see if these are right for YOU, because everybody is different.
Price and availability of products listed here are subject to change.
FDA required statement: The statements on this page have not been evaluated by the FDA and are my own opinions based on my personal experience and research.
Pregnancy Implantation | When Does Implantation Occur? | Vitex Agnus Castus | Red Raspberry Leaf Tea | Fertility Diet | Fertility Cleanse | Fertility Herbs | When Does Ovulation Occur? | Human Egg Fertilization | What Happens at Conception? | When Does Conception Occur? | Corpus Luteum | Weight and Fertility | Endometrium | Menstrual Cycle Length | Basal Body Temperature (BBT) | Basal Body Thermometer | Two Week Wait |
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