Luteal Phase - Understanding what happens after you ovulate
After you ovulate, you begin the second half of your fertility cycle known as your luteal phase. During the first half of your cycle, Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is produced. FSH signals your body to start the process of maturing eggs for ovulation. The eggs are contained inside a follicle where they will grow and mature until ovulation occurs. As the eggs grow the follicles enlarge and produce estrogen. High levels of estrogen in your body triggers a release of LH, Luteinizing Hormone. This is also known as an LH surge. When this happens it causes the mature egg to burst from the follicle. This is called ovulation. Normally, only one egg will be large enough to burst through the follicle during ovulation. After you ovulate, you begin what is known as your Luteal Phase (the second half of your cycle).
Why is it called the luteal phase?
The luteal phase is named after the corpus luteum which means yellow body in Latin. The corpus luteum is what remains of the follicle after the egg is released. The corpus leteum produces progesterone. Progesterone helps to thicken the lining of the uterus for your egg to implant. The corpus luteum only lasts for about 12-14 days unless it begins receiving hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) from a developing embryo. Once the corpus luteum dies progesterone and estrogen levels drop. Low progesterone levels signal your body to start shedding the lining of your uterus for a new cycle.
Short Luteal Phases
Ordinarily the luteal phase of a woman’s cycle is around 12-14 days, even if you have a very long cycle. The follicular phase may vary from woman to woman but the luteal phase is normally around 12-14 days for most women. A luteal phase that is shorter than 12 days may be a concern for some women. In order to sustain a pregnancy, you need to have enough progesterone. If the corpus luteum dies earlier than 12 days, your body may not produce enough progesterone for a healthy pregnancy.
How long is my luteal phase?
BBT charting is the best way to find out how long your luteal phase is. You can also use an ovulation prediction kit to confirm ovulation. You will want to keep a chart even if you use an ovulation kit. By charting you can tell when you ovulated and have an accurate record to show your doctor.