First off, it’s important that you know that 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). Along these lines, 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. Or in other words, is your luteal phase the same every month?
Experts say that typically the luteal phase is much more consistent than the follicular phase, and in fact, women with good hormonal health should hardly notice a discrepancy from month to month. Therefore, only slight variations in luteal phase length are normal. The luteal phase should only vary one or two days per cycle, if at all, which makes this part of the charting process generally easier to predict than the first half.
However, there are exceptions. If you find that your luteal phase length is varying more widely than a day or two from month to month, then you should be aware that a wide luteal phase discrepancy is a good indicator of a hormonal problem. Seek a healthcare professional if this is the case.
While it can be tempting to write off any abnormality in the luteal phase as irrelevant, the luteal phase stage is actually the unsung hero of conception because it is during this time that the all-important fertilization and implantation occur. Or, in other words, this is when the baby growing happens. And since this is the case, any disruption in the luteal phase phase can affect fertility. Not only might variances in length be cause for concern, but a luteal phase that is too short may be worrisome as well. If the phase is less than 12 days long, your uterus does not have enough time to form an appropriately nutritive lining for a fetus, which may cause a miscarriage even if implantation has already happened.
But don’t worry! If your luteal phase is too short, your body might just need some help balancing out your estrogen and progesterone. Luckily, there are simple things you can do that don’t require major medical interventions. To balance your hormones and beef up a lagging luteal phase, do the following:
- Exercise regularly
- Get eight hours of sleep per night,
- Avoid hormone-laden meats and dairy products
- Avoid plastics (as many contain xenoestrogens that cause estrogen dominance)
- Under the supervision of an OB-GYN or midwife, you might also consider progesterone boosters such as:
- Suppositories, supplements, and creams.
- An over-the-counter supplement called Vitex may contribute to an estrogen/progesterone balance as well.
All in all, 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.