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Luteal Phase Defects: Diagnosis and Treatment

A luteal phase defect is a condition that affects a woman’s ovulation cycle and makes it difficult to experience a healthy pregnancy. A luteal phase defect, characterized by low progesterone levels and limited uterine lining growth, undermines egg implantation and fetal development. Dr. Vicken Sahakian at Pacific Fertility Center in Los Angeles, CA, can diagnose and treat luteal phase defects, increasing your chances of a healthy pregnancy.

How Does a Luteal Phase Defect Affect Fertility?

During the luteal phase, which is the 12 to 16 days between ovulation and menstruation, progesterone levels increase and the uterine lining (endometrium) thickens. This creates a healthy environment for egg implantation and eventual embryonic and fetal growth.

menstrual cycle phases
The luteal phase occurs between ovulation and menstruation.

Women with a short luteal phase of 10 days or less will have lower progesterone levels and thinner endometrial lining. A luteal phase defect makes it considerably more difficult for a woman to become and stay pregnant.

What Are the Symptoms?

Many women with this condition are unaware they have it until they have trouble conceiving or suffer pregnancy loss. Some symptoms of a luteal phase defect include:

  • Spotting between periods
  • Difficulty conceiving
  • Miscarriage

A woman may also realize she has a luteal phase defect when tracking her ovulation cycles and noticing there is a shortened period of time between ovulation and menstruation.

What Are the Causes?

Any woman can develop a luteal phase defect when progesterone production drops. Certain health conditions increase the risk, such as:

How Is a Luteal Phase Defect Diagnosed?

Women experiencing difficulties in becoming or staying pregnant can have several hormone levels checked via a simple blood draw:

  • Progesterone: This hormone surges after ovulation and supports the endometrium.
  • Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH): This hormone stimulates ovarian follicle growth and is released by the pituitary gland.
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH): This hormone triggers ovulation.

A luteal phase defect may be treated with lifestyle changes, supplements and medications, or a combination of measures.

What Is Treatment Like?

The underlying cause of suppressed progesterone levels is typically addressed in luteal phase defect treatment. Women may need to make lifestyle changes, like reducing stress through breathing exercises, or losing weight with moderate exercise.

Progesterone levels may also be increased, extending the length of the luteal phase with the help of certain supplements and medications. Your doctor may prescribe you:

  • Progesterone
  • Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG), which stimulates progesterone production
  • Clomiphene citrate, which stimulates production of FSH and LH and triggers ovulation

Learn More about Luteal Phase Defects

A luteal phase defect may be contributing to your difficulties conceiving or unexplained pregnancy losses. To find out if you have a luteal phase defect, schedule an appointment today. You can speak to a staff member by calling our office nearest you. You may also leave us an online message. We will use today's most sophisticated methods to identify the cause of your fertility issues and recommend the right treatment for your needs.

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