Short Menstrual Cycles and the Luteal Phase

Correcting Short Cycles, Hormones, & the Luteal Phase

Menstrual cycle balance and successfully achieving pregnancy go hand-in-hand. Which is to say, a balanced, regular cycle will abet your chances of conceiving - as well as your odds of maintaining a pregnancy during those first critical weeks after an egg is fertilized. This article will explore the relation between cycle regularity, hormonal balance, and fertility and offer a range of suggestions for helping you promote balance during your monthly cycle. (Note that natural fertility supplements, like FertilAid, are effective at normalizing a menstrual cycle to help achieve pregnancy.)

A clockwork menstrual cycle lasts, on average, of about 28 days. However, while a 28 day cycle is considered "typical", many women have regular cycles that are either shorter or longer than 28 days - while other women experience irregular cycles that may erratically oscillate between the long, the short, or the typical.

For women who have erratic cycles or particularly long or particularly short cycles, the odds of successfully achieving a pregnancy can be sharply affected. Let's briefly look at how the timeline of a menstrual cycle works to get a better understanding of the issue.

The menstrual cycle is divided into two phases - the ovulatory phase and the luteal phase. The ovulatory consists of the first two weeks (based on a 28-day cycle) leading up to ovulation. During this phase, reproductive hormones prepare the body to ovulate, or release an egg. At the same time, circulation increases to the reproductive organs in order to build the uterine lining (endometrium) for the implantation of a fertilized egg. Following ovulation (around cycle day 14), other hormones kick in that support a "fertile environment" for the egg, that maintain the integrity of the endometrium, and that warm the body to nurture/sustain a newly-achieved pregnancy. The second half the cycle is called the luteal phase. If a pregnancy does not occur, these hormones eventually subside, the endometrium begins to disintegrate and shed, and a woman experiences menstruation around cycle day 28. And the process repeats itself...

The first two weeks of the menstrual cycle are governed by the hormone estrogen. Following ovulation, estrogen decreases and the hormone progesterone (which is secreted by the corpus luteum) increases to support and "maintain" a possible pregnancy. The balance between the two hormones is key for predictable ovulation and overall cycle regularity.

Short Cycles and Luteal Phase Problems

While hormonal imbalances can impact both phases of the menstrual cycle, a common issue is related to "short cycles". For women who experience irregular (or regularly short) menstrual cycles, the primary issue may relate to problems with the luteal phase. Which is to say, possible shortcomings in progesterone production during this post-ovulatory time frame.

As indicated above, an average cycle lasts around 28 days. Therefore, the luteal phase "should" have a duration of about two weeks (approximately 12 - 16 days). If you are bbt charting and can determine the day you ovulate (by using a basal thermometer), then you can determine the length of the luteal phase. If this second phase has a regular duration of 10 or 11 days or less, you may be experiencing luteal phase issues relating to imbalances in the hormone progesterone. Women who have luteal phases that are regularly short may be experiencing what is called "luteal phase defect", or LPD. (Again, natural fertility supplements, like FertilAid, are effective in addressing luteal phase issues in trying-to-conceive women.)

The problem with a "luteal phase problem" is that a short second half of the cycle can compromise the integrity of the endometrium. This has a few possible consequences. First, if the uterine lining is not yet properly developed ("built-up" with secretory endometrial tissue) than implantation of a fertilized egg may not be successful and pregnancy cannot be achieved. Second, even if implantation does in fact take place, maintenance of a pregnancy over the next few days may fail and early menstruation may ensue.

Now, while luteal phase defect may result from issues with progesterone during the second half of your cycle, pinpointing "the cause" of the issue may be more complicated than simply attributing "progesterone deficiency" to the corpus luteum. First, while the luteal phase represents the second half of the cycle, luteal phase problems may have their origin during the first phase. Issues may in fact stem from problems with another hormone called FSH, which stimulates follicle production during the first days of the cycle. In short, deficiencies in progesterone may evolve from earlier hormonal imbalances with FSH (and perhaps, consequently, with the estrogens). At-home FSH tests can be used to determine if this may be an issue for you.

In almost all respects, reproductive hormones and processes do not "work" as discrete functions, but rather as a complex network of interactive and mutually-dependent operations. Thus with luteal phase defect, it is not possible to just point at one function (progesterone production) without taking into account other dependent factors. In fact, other unique variables relating to the estrogens may equally impact progesterone production.

Today, home FSH tests are available for female fertility screening. High FSH levels may indicate struggling follicle production and therefore the possibility of imbalance issues that may impact progesterone production of the corpus luteum. To clarify the relation, the follicle - which contains the developing egg - becomes the corpus luteum following ovulation. If you receive a positive result on an FSH test, you are advised to talk with your doctor about possible implications and corrective treatments or lifestyle changes. A positive on an FSH test does not mean you are infertile, only that the body is "stressed out" in its attempt to develop a mature egg.

In summary: If you are experiencing a short cycle (and in particular, a very short luteal phase) than you may want to consult with a doctor regarding tracking down the issue or pursuing possible treatment options. As a first step, you may consider taking FertilAid to encourage optimal hormonal balance.

Among naturopathic or health and wellness options, its almost needless to say that, above all, a healthy menstrual cycle resolves from a healthy diet, proper weight/fitness, and a "fertile" lifestyle. Hormonal balance is dependant on balance in other spheres of health and wellness. Acupuncture and yoga are also excellent options for bringing the cycle into balance.

In addition to these concerns, other options may include fertility supplements that integrate herbs like vitex. Vitex has been shown to be helpful in bolstering cycle balance and bringing the hormones into phase - particularly progesterone.

See Also...

> What is Ovulation?
> Conceiving After 35
> Fertility Acupuncture
> Ovulation Phases

Comments

Help i am 33 old with two kids ,i have period cycle every 22 days .Last month my date was 25 of october and 10 th (today) it started again. is there any problem with me

Okay so I got my period on the in the beginning of October for three days like I usually get it than I got it again on the 17 of October and it went away on the 25 and now got it again on the 31st of October and I still have it now! What's wrong with me??? I am only 29 by the way

help, i am 38yrs old and mestrate for only 3days in a month.

My cycles is not regular, sometimes i do ve short cycle 23,25 ,and sometimes i do ve long cycle 31 days .so am confuse,i font know when i ovulate

ola quisiera saver si es que estoy esperando un bebe el dia 2 de abril me bajo y me duro 4 dias y ayer me bajo otra vez yo soy regular que significa esto que me esta pasando? ne pueden ayudar

last month my period was 4 days late, Im normally on a 21 day cycle (lucky me!). Went to see the doctor as was feeling dizzy nausea sore breasts and some light brown spotting. She asked if there was a history of twins in my family, which there are. Anyhoo, a few days later I got what I assumed to be my period not as heavy as normal but there all the same with cramping. We have not had sex this month, but Im feeling overly tired every day breasts are sore again and my nipples seem to be larger than before.
My question...is it possible I could be pregnant or am I just hoping for the best
I do hope I get a responce Im so eager to know if I am and yes Ive taken a urine test and its negative, my period is now due again in 5 days...please advise
oh yes and Im 40 which I know im past my sell by date lol

this feb 2012 I had an early signal for 2weeks but period did not come till 2nd feb and it lasted 3days sharp, no spot blood. For first time, am concern. am in my mid 30s, should I worry? I did have to take the morning afterpill mid jan - is this related?lately my period time is around 29th - 1st of every month it starts very heavy first three days then either cuts off completely or is extremely light almost spot blood. in the past 5years am lucky to have consistent 5 day period which I have now realised is not normal
the timing of my period has always been irregular in: use to be 15th of every month for several years then 20th etc
am thinking of having a fertility test, may be a good idea....
Thanking you in advance

me and my husband are trying to get pregnant i had a period nov 13 2011 it wasnt a normal period bleeding was heavy spotting heavy spotting then bleeding would stop we followed a ovulation calender and a according to it i should be pregnant but im not my period for dec started 13 or 14 th and that period didnt last long i have an ovarian cyst and i think this could cause problems too i really need some advice we really want a baby and we dont want it to be a job making a baby shouldnt be a job HELP WHAT CAN WE DO

I just sent a comment but forgot to include that when my period begins at about 20 days it is light for about the first 3 days then gets extremely heavy for 2 to 3 days and tapers off till about another 2 3 days . Rose

I am 47 years old. I had 7 natural births. Last birth was 12 years ago. My cycle was never to long. Since a teenager I would have my period about 26-27 days. As I had children my cycle would get shorter and the bleeding heavier and longer. When my cycle went down to 20 days with very heavy bleeding ( I always tended to bleed heavy) my doctor put me on the pill. I was fine with it until I developed a blood clot. I've been off the pill for about a year now and am back to real heavy bleeding and my cycle is starting to get shorter and shorter, about 20 days. It takes about 7 days for the bleeding to completely stop. I have had ultrasounds done and everything, thank G-D, is fine. Is there any way you can help figure out where my problem (if any)is. I do not believe it has anything to do with menopause since it's been like this for about 7 8 years. Thanking you in advance. Rose

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