Are you trying to get pregnant? Have you heard of Luteal Phase? If you have not, it is important to educate yourself about it and understand how it is relevant for your pregnancy.
Menstrual cycle wheel

What Is Meant By Luteal Phase?

The short answer to that question is “it is the post-ovulatory phase in your fertility cycle”. Now for some explanation. Your fertility cycle can be assumed to be divided into three phases:

  1. Follicular Phase
  2. Ovulation Phase
  3. Luteal Phase

Follicular phase starts with the first day of your period. During this phase, your pituitary gland releases FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone), which in turn results in your ovary releasing five to ten follicles, each containing an immature egg. The follicles continue to grow, the eggs continue to mature and the uterus lining continues to thicken during this phase. This phase lasts around 10 days.
In the ovulation phase, the mature egg is released from the follicle, ready to be fertilized. This happens during mid-cycle and the phase lasts for four to five days. This is also the most fertile period in the menstruation cycle. Although the follicle releases the egg, the broken follicle continues to stay on the ovarian surface.
Finally, in the luteal phase, the broken follicle transforms into something called Corpus Luteum, which releases progesterone and estrogen. These hormones will make the uterus lining thicker, waiting for the fertilized egg to stick on it. There can be two possibilities now:

  1. Fertilization happens: Then the egg will implant itself in the uterus lining. The Corpus Luteum is maintained. It continues to produce progesterone and estrogen, which ensures the uterus lining remains thick throughout the pregnancy
  2. Fertilization does not happen: The Corpus Luteum stops producing progesterone, resulting in the shedding of uterus lining – your menstruation starts

Luteal phase lasts for 12-16 days.

Why Is Luteal Phase Important For Pregnancy?

So, luteal phase is the time between ovulation and menstruation. Hence, the length and health of your luteal phase tell a lot of about your fertility. Like we have explained below:

How Does The Length Of Luteal Phase Impact Pregnancy?

For instance, if your luteal phase is less than 10 days, then you might find it difficult to get pregnant. Why? If your corpus luteum withers and dies in 9 days, thus stopping the production of progesterone, then your uterus lining starts shedding immediately, leaving no time for the fertilized egg to travel from fallopian tube to the ovary and get implanted to the uterus lining. In short, even if fertilization happens, pregnancy will not happen because you will get your periods before the embryo can stick to the uterus.
Doctor explains menstrual cycle

How Does The Health Of Luteal Phase Impact Pregnancy?

Sometimes, even when the length of luteal phase is normal, your body secretes less amount of progesterone during this period. This also can be a problem. A healthy quantity of progesterone is required to ensure the thickness of uterus lining. Less progesterone leads to a uterus lining that is not thick enough to sustain a pregnancy.
So, it is important to have a luteal phase that is healthy and is of normal length.

How Can You Know The Length Of Your Luteal Phase?

If you are having trouble getting pregnant, talk to your gynecologist. She can advise a hormone-related blood test which can determine the exact length of the luteal phase. For each of us, the length of luteal phase will remain more or less constant. This means that, if your luteal phase is 12 days in a particular month when you did the test, it will always be in the 11-13 days range. Once you know your luteal phase, you can also easily calculate your ovulation phase, with this simple formula:
Ovulation phase = Length of menstruation cycle – Length of luteal cycle.
For example, if you get your periods every 30 days, then the length of menstruation cycle is 30. Let us imagine, the length of your luteal cycle is 14. Then, your ovulation phase = 30 – 14 = 16.
This means that the probability of getting pregnant is very high on the 16th day after the start of your periods as ovulation occurs on that day.

How Can You Make Luteal Phase Normal And Healthy?

A healthy diet, including food items rich in vitamin B complex and vitamin C, is known to help in making the luteal phase normal. If you are concerned about your luteal phase and feel it is hampering your desire to get pregnant, please talk to your doctor.
All the best.