What is Luteal Phase Defect?
Week by Week Timeline >> What is Luteal Phase Defect?
Defining LPD and what you can do about it...
Any medical terminology or phrase with the word "defect" attached
to it certainly exudes a frightening tone. However, a luteal phase defect might
be better translated as a simple "shortcoming" in the ability of the
body to produce sufficient amounts of progesterone during the luteal phase of
the menstrual cycle. Moreover, this shortcoming is in most cases treatable through
either medical, dietary, and/or naturopathic means.
To understand what a luteal phase defect is, we must first define the luteal
phase and the role of progesterone in regulating the menstrual cycle and maintaining
a pregnancy. The luteal phase is simply the second half of the menstrual cycle
- the two-week period spanning from ovulation to menstruation. It's called the
luteal phase due to the fact that, following ovulation, the corpus luteum begins
producing the hormone progesterone. (While estrogen is dominant during the first
half the cycle, progesterone governs the second half, or luteal phase.) The
corpus luteum only comes into being after the egg is released. In fact, a corpus
luteum is nothing other than the ovarian follicle - but transformed into another
role following ovulation.
Progesterone performs a number of reproductive functions: Among, these, it
warms the body. It builds the uterine lining for implantation of a fertilized
egg. In the case of pregnancy, it prevents menstruation - thus you experience
a missed period. When a woman becomes pregnant, progesterone levels should remain
high and the menstrual cycle will be placed on "hold".
In this image, the luteal phase corresponds with the increase in body temperature
associated with ovulation and the production of progesterone by the corpus
luteum. This image represents and idealized 28-day cycle with normal luteal/progesterone
functioning. BBT Charting can help you identify a luteal phase defect. Also
Can BBT Charting Tell Me?
For most women, the luteal phase will last about fourteen days, though it can
span anywhere from ten to seventeen days and still be considered "normal".
A luteal phase defect is typically associated with a shortened
luteal phase of around ten days or less (though there is some debate as to what
defines a luteal problem or shortened phase). In most cases, a luteal phase
defect is attributable to low progesterone levels or insufficient/unsustained
progesterone production by the corpus luteum.
With the decrease of progesterone, the uterine lining begins to break down
(or will not develop properly in the first place) and menstruation takes place.
For women who exhibit symptoms of luteal phase defect, menstruation simply takes
place sooner than it should (and the cycle phases will not be in balance).
Also, the uterine lining may not "build" to a healthy point where
implantation of a fertilized egg can take place. However, in the event a pregnancy
is achieved, LPD may also initiate menstrual bleeding and cause an early miscarriage.
The causes of luteal phase defect can be traced to a few principle factors.
First off, a luteal phase problem may have its root in the first half
of the cycle. That is to say, for the corpus luteum to function properly, it
must develop and fully mature in its earlier incarnation as an "ovarian
follicle". Maturation of the ovarian follicle requires adequate follicular
development brought about by another reproductive hormone - follicle stimulating
hormone, or FSH. Low levels of FSH (or stress on the ovarian follicle) can prevent
its full maturation; thus, during the luteal phase, this may lead to a corpus
luteum that is unable to perform its proper function in producing progesterone
at adequate or sustained levels. However, failure of the corpus luteum may also
occur even in the case of a healthy, fully-developed follicle. In either
situation, the corpus luteum prematurely falters or fails to deliver adequate
levels of progesterone.
Here's where bbt charting comes in. If you are bbt charting, you'll be able
to identify a short luteal phase (as well as cycle irregularity or ovulation
problems). If you suspect that you have a luteal phase defect, you can then
discuss your chart with your doctor and s/he can suggest treatments or pursue
As luteal phase defect may be the result of hormonal imbalances, your doctor
or naturopath may suggest any number of remedies, from vitamin and fertility
supplements (containing the herb, vitex agnus castus) to acupuncture.
Supplements like FertilAid contain vitex and are designed
to help support cycle balacne and regularity. Also, natural progesterone creams
may also prove beneficial in supporting the luteal phase of your cycle. Your
doctor may also suggest prescription medications as well. In any case, the important
thing to remember is that luteal phase defect can be corrected in most situations.
And if you are trying-to-conceive, consider fertility charting as not just a
means to predict ovulation, but as a general tactic for learning about your
body's stages and phases.
Can BBT Charting Tell Me?
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