You've been a diligent student, and acing Fertility 101 isn't easy. By now you know the entirety of the menstrual cycle is divided into two parts: The follicular (the time between your first day of menstruation and ovulation) and the luteal phases (the time between ovulation and the first day of your next period). You may have noticed that the follicular phase of your ovulation cycle can vary widely in length, making nailing down an ovulation date tricky at times. But what about the second half of the process — is your luteal phase the same every month?
Experts say that typically the luteal phase is much more consistent than the follicular, and in fact, women with good hormonal health should hardly notice a discrepancy from month to month. Sarah Babbs, Fertility Care Practitioner at Carmel Family Fertility Services in Carmel, Indiana tells Romper that, "Each individual woman will only have slight variations in luteal phase length". Babbs says the luteal phase should only vary one or two days per cycle, if at all, making this part of the charting process generally easier to predict than the first half.
However, Babbs adds, there are exceptions. If you find that your luteal phase length is varying more widely than a day or two from month to month, your antennae should perk up. A wide luteal phase discrepancy is a good indicator of a hormonal problem, and should be carefully looked at when a woman is trying to conceive.
It can be tempting to write off any abnormality in the luteal phase as irrelevant — after all, our area of primary concentration always seems to be focused on predicting the day of ovulation — but did you know that this stage is actually the unsung hero of conception? Because it is during this time that the all-important fertilization and implantation occur.
Since this is when the baby-growing magic happens, any disruption in this phase can affect fertility and should be taken seriously. Not only might variances in length be cause for concern, but a luteal phase that is too short may be worrisome as well, noted Natural Fertility. It is generally agreed upon in the world of fertility that if this phase is less than 12 days long, your uterus does not have enough time to form an appropriately nutritive lining for a fetus. If that's the case, even if implantation has already happened, there is a good chance that a miscarriage may occur.
But don't despair. If your luteal phase is too short or doing otherwise weird things, your body might just need a little bit of help balancing out your estrogen and progesterone. Luckily there are simple things you can do to help it along that process that don't require major medical interventions.
Appleseed Fertility recommended the following natural remedies for balancing your hormones and beefing up a lagging luteal phase: Regular exercise, eight hours of sleep per night, avoiding hormone-laden meats and dairy products, and even avoiding plastics (as many contain xenoestrogens that cause estrogen dominance) are all on their list of things to try.
And under the supervision of an OB-GYN or midwife, you might also consider progesterone boosters such as suppositories, supplements, and creams. Appleseed also recommended an over-the-counter supplement called Vitex, which may contribute to an estrogen/progesterone balance.
If you implement these suggestions and don't see immediate results, resist the urge to feel discouraged, as it sometimes takes several cycles for your luteal phase to lengthen or stabilize. In the meantime, focus on staying healthy, implementing self care, and — don't forget — enjoying sex with your loving partner.
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