What is it and what characterizes the luteal phase of the cycle


One of the main indicators of the health status of a woman of reproductive age is her menstrual cycle.

This is a complex physiological process that affects the ability to become pregnant and make a healthy child. On average, it is repeated once a month and lasts 28 days (the allowable rate is from 21 to 35 days). In the normal menstrual cycle, there are two main phases:

  1. proliferative or follicular,
  2. luteal (LF) or secretion phase

The follicular phase begins with menstruation and lasts an average of 14 days before the egg leaves the dominant follicle. The second phase of the menstrual cycle occurs after ovulation, that is, after the release of the egg from the ovary.

After the first one has ended and the second phase of the menstrual cycle has begun, the follicle has ruptured and the yellow body has matured in the ovary. This phase is referred to as the luteal phase, during which the uterus prepares to attach a fertilized egg.

In the luteal or secretory phase with the participation of the corpus luteum - a specific temporary endocrine gland in the female body - a large number of hormones are synthesized, namely, estrogen and progesterone. The length of the luteal phase averages from 13 to 15 days.

How to recognize it

So, what is the luteal phase and how to recognize it? The secretory, luteal phase of the cycle or the corpus luteum phase begins immediately after ovulation and continues until the beginning of the next menstruation. At this time, the formation and active activity of the corpus luteum occurs, the main function of which is the production of the so-called pregnancy hormones: progesterone, estrogen and androgen. Thus, the woman's body is preparing for childbearing. If fertilization of the egg and its implantation do not occur, then the secretion of these hormonal substances ceases. The inner layer of the uterus is rejected and menstruation begins in the form of characteristic bleeding.

There are no obvious symptoms. However, attentive women can easily determine the offensive by the following features:

  • increase in basal temperature
  • an increase in the volume of discharge without changing their color and smell,
  • slight swelling of the mammary glands and nipple sensitivity, which is explained by the preparation of the body for a probable pregnancy.

How to calculate the luteal phase? The first method of calculating the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle is arithmetic. Just divide the number of days in a cycle by two. This time will be considered the likely start of LF. However, not in all cases, this calculation will be correct.

You can use more reliable methods. In the first case, the basal temperature is measured and the time is fixed when it rises. This period corresponds to ovulation, which means that the calculated secretory phase begins. You can also use the test for ovulation. LF will last until the first day of menstruation.

And if it is too short?

We will understand what violations of the luteal phase are possible. When the normal maturation process of the egg changes, the secretion phase can be shortened. At the same time, a full-fledged endometrium of the uterus does not develop, and the ovum is not attached.

In most cases, when the duration of the luteal phase is no more than 10 days, the woman cannot become pregnant.

According to statistics, failure of the second phase of the cycle is diagnosed in approximately 3 out of 100 women suffering from secondary infertility with unexplained causes. And also about half of the patients of the gynecological hospital, who have a history of two or more episodes of abortion in the early stages.

Having heard the diagnosis of a deficiency of the luteal phase of the cycle (NLF), not all girls understand what they are really talking about. Most women associate insufficient secretory phase with PMS or simply do not pay attention to it.

In fact, the short duration of the luteal phase is very dangerous for the female reproductive function, as it leads to a decrease in the production of progesterone, which is responsible for the normal gestation of pregnancy. Fortunately, a woman who has gone through several necessary stages of diagnosis and treatment has real chances of becoming pregnant.

Causes of NLF

Doctors distinguish among the main causes of LF deficiency:

  • chronic inflammatory processes of the urogenital organs,
  • frequent abortions (abortions, including medical), as well as a history of miscarriages,
  • mechanical trauma and surgery on the pelvic organs,
  • stressful situations, shock, a state of constant nervous tension,
  • pathological disorders of the formation of the corpus luteum,
  • problems with the production of hormones of the adrenal cortex, thyroid, pituitary.

Luteal deficiency may be accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • there may be a very short or, on the contrary, a long menstrual cycle,
  • there is a high probability of miscarriages in the early stages of pregnancy, which in the history of the woman may be 2 or more,
  • a few days before the expected menstruation, a woman may have spotting,
  • pain in the pelvic area and perineum in the first days of menstruation.

Sometimes the short luteal phase is determined in absolutely healthy women. The causes of anomalies can be explained by certain factors, including physical activity, professional sports, passion for diets, and the like. In such women, it is easy to bring back LF. It is enough to adjust the lifestyle.

Hormone rates

Luteal phase deficiency (NLF) is also called the hypofunction of the corpus luteum, it is synonymous. Essentially, this means that the corpus luteum does not work well, emit little progesterone. In a young woman in the luteal phase, progesterone should be at the level of 7-56.4 (the amount depends on the specific day of the cycle).

When NLF may occur deviations from the normal content of other hormones (eg, estradiol), a violation of their correct ratio.

See the table of the norm of hormones depending on the phase of the cycle.

Treatment of LF deficiency should be carried out strictly under the supervision of a gynecologist, who prescribes drug therapy aimed at the resumption of hormonal levels, normalization of the menstrual cycle, stimulation of ovulation. In addition to medications, acupuncture, physiotherapeutic manipulations, and spa treatment help to cope with the problem of short LF.

Competently: the doctor is responsible

The obstetrician-gynecologist Elena Artemyeva answers questions.

- I was diagnosed with a luteal phase deficiency. How to treat it?

- It is very rare in itself. This may be due to polycystic ovary syndrome, hyperprolactinemia, endometrial inflammation, thyroid disease, and some metabolic disorders. It is important to understand the cause and precisely to treat it. If no disease is detected, progesterone drugs are prescribed in the second phase of the cycle. The dosage is determined by the doctor.

- I was protected by the Novaring ring for a long time. Then they planned a pregnancy, I got a ring. In the first cycle, ovulation was on day 19 of the cycle, menstruation began on day 30. Pregnancy has not come. Is LF long enough to conceive? The doctor advises urozhestan, will he help?

- Yes, when LF is deficient, progesterone drugs are prescribed (duphaston, utrogestan). In order to calculate the beginning of the reception, it is necessary to undergo an ultrasound in the middle of the cycle. The drug is taken before menstruation or to receive blood tests for hCG. Most likely, during pregnancy, the drug will have to take the entire first trimester.

What happens and how long the luteal phase lasts

The length of the luteal phase is stable and is 13-14 days, in some cases, its duration varies within two days. The high content of hormones in the blood during this period stimulates the process of development and maturation of the endometrium. A female uterus, the uterus, is preparing to attach a fertilized egg to its mucous membrane.

The content of biologically active substances reaches a maximum in the middle of this phase. If the egg is fertilized and pregnancy occurs, progesterone in the yellow body continues to be synthesized. This occurs until a sufficiently developed placenta takes over the function of producing this hormone and estrogen for itself.

In the event that the pregnancy has not come, the corpus luteum stops the synthesis of hormones. Because of this, their amount in the blood decreases, and the mucous membrane of the uterus dies off and is rejected. The onset of menstrual bleeding is the final stage of the luteal phase. Such a formation as the corpus luteum gradually acquires a white tint, noticeably decreases in size and is transformed into a small commissure on the ovary, which does not affect the normal functioning of this organ.

If you need to calculate the luteal phase

Not all women know how to calculate the luteal phase, although it is not difficult. To determine its beginning and duration, it is necessary to know exactly how many days the monthly cycle lasts - the interval between the first day and the menstruation of this and the next. For all women, this period is individual, but it is considered to be 21-31 days as the norm.

The luteal phase follows ovulation. You need to know which day of the cycle the egg leaves the ovary. To do this, the cycle time should be divided by 2. The resulting number indicates the day of the onset of ovulation. The period after it and before the onset of bleeding is the luteal phase.

Insufficient duration of the luteal phase

In some women, the luteal phase of the monthly cycle is shortened. This is due to disorders occurring during the maturation of the egg in the ovary. Most experts are of the opinion that the luteal phase, which lasts less than 10-11 days, does not allow for the development of a full-fledged endometrium and preparing it so that a fertilized egg can reliably adhere. As a result, there is no possibility of pregnancy.

In the short luteal phase, there is a shortage of progesterone in the female body, which is important for the onset of pregnancy and the prevention of miscarriage in the early stages. But this condition is amenable to medical correction with modern drugs.

According to statistics, in 3% of women suffering from infertility of unexplained etiology, as well as in 60% of patients of gynecological departments who have 2 or more miscarriages, there is a failure of the second phase. This problem is familiar to 10% of mothers who managed to endure pregnancy and give birth to healthy babies without any problems.

Traditionally, it is considered - if the short luteal phase is the cause of the disorder that occurs during the development of a special formation - the corpus luteum, which is caused by the disproportion in the content of follicle-stimulating hormone and lutein hormone in the body. In addition, the level of thyroid hormones and prolactin is important.

Absolutely healthy women may also have a luteal phase deficiency. But in this case, the reason lies in a particular way of life (enhanced sports, passion for diets). Mothers who breast feed babies also have low progesterone levels.

Women who have heard their diagnosis for the first time at the doctor’s office do not always know what the luteal phase is and what its symptoms are. Before visiting the gynecologist, some of them do not even realize that there is a disturbance in the body, because such a state can occur almost imperceptibly for one’s well-being. The main symptoms of luteal phase deficiency in women are:

  • short or too long monthly cycle
  • abdominal visa pain before offensive and in the first days of menstruation,
  • spotting a few days before menstruation,
  • repeated miscarriages
  • problems with the onset of pregnancy.

Norm progesterone in the luteal phase

The quantitative content of a hormone such as progesterone in the blood of women varies depending on the phase of the monthly cycle. On average, it is 6-56 pmol per liter of blood. When there comes a stage called luteal or phase of the corpus luteum, the indicators reach a maximum.

When the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle is suitable, the increase in the content of progesterone in women can reach dozens of times. If this does not happen, then doctors suspect any violations of the luteal phase or pathological processes occurring in the body of a woman.

To determine the level of progesterone during the luteal phase, you must pass a blood test. However, due to such significant fluctuations, it is better to conduct a laboratory study after a woman has consulted with her gynecologist and together with him will determine the most favorable day. The results of the study are of great importance for identifying the causes of infertility, miscarriage, and monitoring a normal pregnancy.

There are a number of rules that must be followed by women who plan to do the analysis.

  1. Firstly, it will be easier to calculate the day that is suitable for visiting the laboratory if you keep a menstrual calendar for several months. Focusing on it, it is easy to determine the duration of the cycle and the estimated day of ovulation.
  2. A day before blood donation it is necessary to exclude from the diet food that is rich in fats, fried foods and alcoholic beverages. It is impossible, in preparation for the analysis, to allow strong physical exertion. You should also avoid stressful situations.
  3. For eight hours before donating blood for analysis, it is advisable to eat nothing, but it’s better if 12 hours pass from the last meal to the blood draw. In exceptional cases, you can drink pure water without gas. It is advisable to drink it shortly before the procedure.
  4. The doctor, determining the day of testing for progesterone, should be informed by the woman about what medications she is taking. Especially if she drinks contraceptives that affect the natural background and may cause the result of the analysis to be biased.

A low level of hormone levels in a woman’s blood is often regarded as one of the main causes of infertility. In pregnant women, an insufficient level often provokes bleeding and spontaneous abortion in the early stages. To avoid this, doctors practice prescribing drugs containing synthetic progesterone.

Depending on the result, the attending physician decides on the appointment of therapy. In cases where the study shows elevated levels of progesterone, injections are prescribed. They help to normalize the menstrual cycle and hormones.

In the event of pregnancy, shots help to keep the pregnancy. During childbirth, progesterone levels often fluctuate. Therefore, expectant mothers, having received the result of the analysis, should not panic, but rather consult a doctor.

What is the menstrual cycle

Menstruation begins to manifest during childbearing age. It is a preparation for fertilization of the egg, as well as for the qualitative and proper development and formation of the fetus inside. So, what phases does this cycle consist of:

  1. Menstrual.
  2. Follicular
  3. The development of ovulation.
  4. Luteal phase of the cycle.

The cycle length can vary from 21–32 days. This number depends on individual well-being, hormonal levels and physical exertion. The first phase is especially painful. Follicular occurs after cessation of bleeding. At this time, the synthesis of hormones. At the same time, the ovaries produce estrogen, which contributes to the renewal of the upper layers of the uterus.

When ovulation occurs, the follicle disintegrates, and the egg cell becomes free and begins to move toward the uterus

After two weeks, a formed follicle will be revealed, in which an egg cell will form and grow. When ovulation occurs, the follicle disintegrates, and the egg cell becomes free and begins to move toward the uterus. The egg cell lives for a couple of days, and then the luteal phase develops.

Tip!Hormonal changes can have a negative effect on muscle tissue. If the ratio of progesterone and estradiol is broken, then there is a strong pain in the tissues.

What is the luteal phase

The luteal phase is the period from the process of ovulation to menstruation. At this time there is a breakthrough follicle. Cells collect the necessary components for the formation of a yellow shade. It is the corpus luteum that performs intensive production of estrogen, progesterone and androgen. In this case, the uterus is actively preparing for a possible pregnancy. If the fertilization process has occurred, then the corpus luteum forms progesterone in the luteal phase until the placenta is at the right level.

The corpus luteum is formed from the walls of a bursting follicle. This results in follicular fluid. Where a rupture occurred, a small blood clot forms. At the same time, parts of the follicle are gathered into folds, and the tissues inside become large. Yellow lutein is collected in cells. При этом стенки фолликула трансформируются в лютеиновые клетки, а вокруг создается целая сеть капилляров, которая обеспечивает процесс питания железы.

If the fertilization process has occurred, the corpus luteum forms progesterone in the luteal phase until the placenta is at the right level.

When fertilizing an egg, it penetrates the uterus. In this case, the corpus luteum begins to grow, and also produces the hormones androgen and estradiol. They reduce cases of uterine contraction, and also prepare the mammary glands to form milk.

If conception did not happen, then the corpus luteum finishes the production of the necessary hormones and the next bleeding begins. The activity of the progesterone-producing gland ends a couple of days before menstruation. The period of this phase lasts about half a cycle.

Tip!All women need to monitor the health, as well as the regularity of the menstrual cycle and its separate phases.

Luteal phase length

Finding out what is the luteal phase in women, it is necessary to know her days. The length of this period is individual. The menstrual cycle is equal to a month, but the duration of this period is more often equal to 14 days. In individual cases, the duration of the luteal phase varies from 12 to 16 days. This is affected by the functioning of the corpus luteum, as well as the work of the reproductive organs.
Normal indicators depend on the functions of the body, the proper functioning of the organs and the level of excretion of the necessary components.

In individual cases, the duration of the luteal phase varies from 12 to 16 days.

Tip!The length of the luteal period is increased in the case of pregnancy, as well as in the formation of a corpus luteum cyst.

Progesterone and normal values

The luteal phase is characterized by a high content of the hormone progesterone. However, its rate varies in the range of 6.99-56-63 pmol / l. This hormone is simply necessary for the female body. At a certain time, it increases its amount several times. If this does not happen, then this indicates violations in the female body.

How to calculate the luteal phase

To carry out correct calculations of this phase, it is necessary to have an idea how many days the menstrual cycle is carried out. It is recommended to keep a special calendar, where the days of the month are marked.
The luteal phase passes from the time of formation of the mature egg and until the beginning of the new menstruation. However, it takes about half the cycle.
To find out it is necessary to divide the days between the beginning of the month by 2. At the same time, the resulting value will indicate the day of ovulation. And the days between this period and the first day of the next menstrual period will indicate the duration of the luteal phase. For example, if the whole cycle takes 28 days, then the phase is 14 days.

It is recommended to keep a special calendar, where the days of the month are marked.

But this calculation is not always correct, since the cycle time may vary for various reasons. Ovulation can be on the 12-16th day of the cycle.
If the duration of this phase is less than 12 days, then its insufficiency is diagnosed. In this case, problems may arise with the conception of a child.

Tip!Find out the presence of the luteal phase will help measure basal temperature. In this case, measurements are performed in the rectum. With ovulation, it rises to 37 degrees. To find out more accurate data can be done ultrasound - diagnosis.

How does the luteal phase deficiency

The normal course of the luteal phase is necessary for successful fertilization. For the qualitative functioning of the reproductive system, it is extremely important that all processes take place in a strict sequence. If there is an increase or decrease in any functions, it affects the ability to become pregnant. The most common cause of such failures is the lack of luteal phase.

Many women can not wait for a long-awaited pregnancy due to violations in the corpus luteum. With the reduction of this period, progesterone can not reach the required level. If the luteal phase ends very early, then the pregnancy hormone is not produced. A lack of progesterone affects the formation of the epithelium, which does not mature to a suitable level. In this case, even if the fertilized egg attaches to the uterus, the placenta will not mature, which can lead to infertility or miscarriage.

Many women can not wait for the long-awaited pregnancy due to violations in the yellow body

The problem with the luteal phase can be recognized by the following features:

  1. Change of the menstrual cycle. The duration of bleeding decreases or increases. This may cause severe pain.
  2. At the beginning of the cycle, pinkish spotting is formed.
  3. It does not work for a long time to conceive a child.

So let's point out what causes such problems. Here they are:

  1. Violation of the pituitary and hypothalamus, which can provoke similar problems. And the reason for such processes can be a variety of infections, injuries and nerves.
  2. Endometrial receptor failure. This can occur in chronic inflammations, after infections, after the formation of adhesions after abortions, and problems with the thyroid gland.
  3. It can also have a negative impact on the phase of poor nutrition, problems with metabolism, insufficient blood supply to the corpus luteum.

Tip!It is the insufficient duration of the luteal phase that can cause the inability to become pregnant for a long time.

It can also have a negative impact on the phase of poor nutrition, problems with metabolism, insufficient blood supply to the corpus luteum.


To confirm luteal insufficiency, special diagnostic measures are carried out. Here they are:

  1. The problems with the functioning of the reproductive system may be evidenced by the difference in basal temperature indicators between the phases of the cycle. This will allow you to track the decrease in the duration of this phase.
  2. Using ultrasound diagnostics, you can see the dynamic processes in the follicles, the level of blood supply to the ovaries and the thickness of the endometrium. With this disease, there is a decrease in blood flow in the region of the yellow body.
  3. Analysis of hormones will allow to detect a violation in the production of certain components.
  4. Endometrial biopsy allows you to determine how hormones affect the receptors on the surface of the uterus.

Such a disease does not occur by itself. It indicates the presence in the body of some problems. First of all, it is necessary to identify the cause of this failure.

Treatment can begin after an accurate diagnosis, which is performed using tests and ultrasound

If you have problems with conception as a result of the active production of prolactins and androgens - the main treatment is focused on the normalization of the hormonal system. If the reason is a decrease in endometrial receptivity, anti-inflammatory drugs and even antibiotics are prescribed.
Often, various methods of acupuncture, physiotherapy and vitamin therapy are used to restore the body.

Treatment can begin after an accurate diagnosis, which is performed using tests and ultrasound. First of all, treatment methods are aimed at stimulating ovulation. At the same time, hormonal nonsteroidal drugs are prescribed.

If you do not pay due attention to the treatment of luteal insufficiency, it can cause infertility, frequent miscarriages, placental insufficiency and problems with the menstrual cycle.

Tip!For more effective treatment, it is necessary to avoid nervous experiences and stressful situations.

Preventive measures

There are certain preventive measures that must be followed during the monthly menstrual cycle. In this case, even the early stage of the disease can be determined by changing the cycle. It is necessary to visit the gynecologist 2 times a year and not ignore the warning signs.

To avoid infertility, it is necessary to properly treat all gynecological problems.

It is necessary to observe a balanced diet.

In addition, the healthy lifestyle affects the health of the female body. It is necessary to observe a balanced diet. In this case, fats and carbohydrates should not exceed the norm, and it is also necessary to reduce the consumption of sweet, flour, as well as fatty and fried foods. The best solution is to consume protein-rich foods. First of all, dairy products, meat and legumes. Sport is also of great importance. During exercise, endorphins are produced, which have a positive effect on the nervous system and internal organs.

Tip!The cycle can be adjusted in two years, so it is important to monitor any changes and deviations.

Careful observation of the flow of the menstrual cycle will help to plan the pregnancy.

During exercise, endorphins are produced, which have a positive effect on the nervous system and internal organs.

Proper determination of the luteal phase, as well as monitoring its condition, will allow to preserve women's health for a long time. In addition, it will increase the chances of a successful conception. Do not forget about timely treatment, which save a woman from many problems with the reproductive system.