Short Luteal Phase, Luteal Phase Defect (LPD) and Hypothalamic Amenorrhea
A short Luteal Phase, also known as Luteal Phase Defect (LPD) is quite common post Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery. In this post I walk you through why this is, what the consequences are and more important, ways to extend a short Luteal Phase.
What is luteal phase
The luteal phase is the second half of your cycle. It lasts from ovulation until the start of the next period. After ovulation, the follicle that held the egg turns into something called a corpus luteum. It makes the hormones progesterone and estrogen to support pregnancy. If pregnancy does not happen, the corpus luteum breaks down between 9 and 11 days after ovulation and after that the uterus lining sheds and the period begins again. Ideally it should last 12-14 days, but between 9 and 16 days may occur.
What is a short luteal phase – luteal phase defect (LPD)?
A short luteal phase, also known as luteal phase defect (LPD), refers to the time between ovulation and the start of menstruation being shorter than the typical duration. A short luteal phase is often defined as being less than 10 days in length.
How do I know if I have a short luteal phase – luteal phase defect (LPD)?
The only way to know the length of your luteal phase is by tracking your cycle (which I encourage all women to do, the cycle is your fifth vital sign). If you monitor ovulation by methods like basal body temperature and cervical mucus you can confirm when ovulation happened and thus assess the length of your luteal phase.
What are the consequences of a short luteal phase – luteal phase defect (LPD)?
Having a too short luteal phase – luteal phase defect (LPD) - can make it more challenging to get pregnant because it may not provide enough time for a fertilized egg to implant successfully and develop into a viable pregnancy. If too little progesterone is secreted, the uterine lining doesn't properly develop which also might make it more difficult to become pregnant.
What are the causes of a short luteal phase – luteal phase defect (LPD) post ) Hypothalamic Amenorrhea
You have managed to recover from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea but struggle with a short luteal phase – luteal phase defect? First of all congratulations to your Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery! What a great achievement! Now you wonder how you can deal with your short luteal phase – luteal phase defect? Maybe you already guessed it, if you come from a background with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA), your short luteal phase, or – luteal phase defect, is most probably caused by stress. The stress in form of exercise, insufficient energy intake and lifestyle factors will cause disruptions in hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, and luteinizing hormone (LH), leading to the luteal phase falling short.
How to Extend the Luteal Phase post Hypothalamic Amenorrhea
Your body is almost there! But if you once have had Hypothalamic Amenorrhea your body is still fragile and needs reassurance to be able to fully trust that it is again safe to fall pregnant. If you notice that your luteal phase continues to be on the short side several cycles in a row, here are things you can do in order to extend your Luteal Phase post Hypothalamic Amenorrhea:
Increase your daily intake
You might have to up your intake further. A short luteal phase is a sign that your body is still not quite in homeostasis.
Are you at your setpoint? It could be that a few more kilos would provide the security, reassurance and stability your body needs in order to feel fully in balance and make you less vulnerable to external stressors.
Time your meals
Are you eating consistently throughout the day? Are you eating within 30 minutes of waking up? Are you having a sufficient night snack before you go to bed? Have a look at the timing of your meals, micro-deficiencies throughout the day might be enough to set your body off.
Make sure you aren’t excluding any food groups
Cut back on the exercise
Reduce your exercise, cut out one workout, exchange one walk with public transportation. This fine-tuning might be enough for your body to fully trust you.
I know that it might be difficult to reduce external stress, work-related stress, stress from relationships, but try to prioritize yourself and your health wherever possible.
Get enough sleep
Make sure that you consistently get enough of high-quality sleep.
Give your body time
I know this is probably the last thing you want to hear, but your body might need some time to fine-tune its reproduction, ramp up all of its internal processes and get back into business again.
Hormone therapy with progesterone
In some cases, if you have tried all hormone therapy with progesterone supplements can help support the luteal phase and promote a healthy uterine lining.
*All content is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.