Luteal Phase Defect

One often-overlooked cause of infertility is a luteal phase defect.

A short luteal phase can mean your uterine lining does not have enough time to thicken and support an embryo. 

Learn more about luteal phase defects and how Dr. Sonja Kristiansen can treat this issue at our fertility clinic in Houston, TX.

Understanding the Luteal Phase in the Menstrual Cycle 

The luteal phase typically occurs after ovulation, around day 15 of the menstrual cycle, and lasts until your period begins. During the luteal phase of a normal menstrual cycle, the hormone progesterone is produced to prepare the lining of the uterus for pregnancy. A thickened uterine lining is crucial for the fertilized egg to implant and grow. 

Graph of the Luteal Phase
During the menstrual cycle, the ovary releases an egg. This is known as ovulation and typically occurs around the middle of the menstrual cycle. After the ovary releases the egg, it leaves behind an empty egg follicle. The corpus luteum forms from the empty follicle, and produces progesterone. This progesterone helps thicken the endometrium lining in preparation for pregnancy. If a fertilized egg implants, the corpus luteum supplies much-needed progesterone in the early stages of pregnancy until the placenta takes over.

What Is a Luteal Phase Defect?

A luteal phase defect, also known as LPD, occurs when a woman's body fails to produce sufficient progesterone, or when the uterus fails to respond to the progesterone levels in the body. In both cases, the uterine lining doesn't thicken correctly. This can cause issues such as infertility (the inability to conceive) or miscarriage.

What Can Cause a
Luteal Phase Defect?

There are several factors that can cause a luteal phase defect and fertility struggles, including:

  • Endometriosis
  • Excessive Exercise
  • Anorexia
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Obesity
  • Thyroid Disorders
  • Hyperprolactinemia
  • Stress

What Are the Symptoms of a
Luteal Phase Defect?

Not everyone will show symptoms if there is an issue with their luteal phase. Many women do not realize they may have a luteal phase defect until they start tracking their ovulation cycles and notice the time between ovulation and menstruation is shorter than typical.

When symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Unexplainable difficulty conceiving/ infertility
  • Premenstrual spotting
  • Short menstrual cycles, lasting less than 26 days
  • Repeat early miscarriage
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

How Is a Luteal Phase Defect Diagnosed?

There is no single test to identify a luteal phase defect and associated infertility. Your fertility specialist may use blood tests to measure your hormone levels, including your progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels. Your doctor may also recommend an ultrasound to examine the thickness of the uterine lining, or endometrial biopsies to better understand your menstrual cycle. 

Sonja B. Kristiansen is an expert at identifying the root cause of infertility. Whether you suspect a luteal phase defect after tracking your cycle or you're just beginning your fertility journey, she will help provide knowledge, care, and support on your path to parenthood. 

Woman talking with her doctor

Luteal Phase Defect Treatment

Fortunately, treatment for a defect in the luteal phase is noninvasive. Once you are diagnosed, it is important to carefully time treatment.
Women with a luteal phase defect are commonly prescribed a progesterone supplement that starts about three days after ovulation.
Progesterone levels are monitored, and if needed, supplementation is adjusted. About two weeks after ovulation, a pregnancy test can be administered if you miss your period. 
If pregnancy does not occur, progesterone is stopped and menstruation typically follows. 
Have questions about luteal phase treatment or interested in a consultation at our Houston fertility clinic?

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Dr. Sonja Kristiansen

Houston Fertility Center

Dr. Sonja Kristiansen is the founder and Medical Director of Houston Fertility Center. She is a board-certified Reproductive Endocrinologist Infertility (REI) specialist who is proud to help hopeful parents fulfill their dreams of having children. Our center is affiliated with the:

  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • American Society for Reproductive Medicine
  • Texas Medical Association

We provide convenient care for patients from greater Houston and visitors from out of town. For more information about our services, contact our office online or call (713) 225-5375 today.

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