The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle is the time between ovulation and the first day of your period, and we are sharing some of the top things you need to know about this timeframe.
1. The luteal phase is the most important phase of the menstrual cycle
The reason that the luteal phase is the most important phase is because of the hormone progesterone. Progesterone supports the implanting in pregnancy, so you want your lining of the womb to be thick so that it can support that pregnancy. A good analogy is to think of a comfy duvet. You want your embryo to nestle into the womb easily, which is why you want the womb lining to be nice and thick.
2. Luteal phase duration
A normal luteal phase will be anywhere between 10 and 16 days. This is the optimum. If it is shorter than 10 days, this could indicate some problems with the luteal phase and may cause problems with implantation.
Having the correct level of progesterone in the luteal phase can be a concern for women. You can get a progesterone test which is called the 21-day progesterone test. However, this really looks at whether or not you have ovulated, and there can be difficulties in getting the timing right. The name itself is misleading as the test is only accurate if done on the 21st day of a 28-day cycle.
If you want to know if you have ovulated in your luteal phase, think about the length of your cycle. If it is shorter than 28 days, you should get the test a little bit earlier than day 21. If it is longer than 28 days, then it needs to be a little bit later. Ideally, it needs to be seven days before your next period.
4. Improve your uterine lining thickness
You might be thinking about what you can do to improve the thickness of your uterine lining. This is important if you are going through IVF, and you are having lots of scans which might show that your endometrial lining is a little bit too thin.
There is some research which suggests that vitamin E and arginine supplements can help to thicken the uterine lining.
Another thing you can do is exercise, which increases the perfusion of blood to the uterus. Likewise, you could try fertility massage. While there is not much research in this area, not only is it a relaxing experience, but logically it is also something which could help increase blood flow to the uterus.
Acupuncture is often used by women to complement a fertility journey. There is limited evidence, however, to support its use in fertility but that doesn’t mean that acupuncture can’t form part of the package. What’s more, it is also another way to relax your body which is always worth doing!
If you are looking for additional personalised menstrual cycle support, see our women’s health consultations for more details.