Luteal Phase

Last Updated: November 5, 2017

Definition - What does Luteal Phase mean?

The luteal phase is a stage of a woman's monthly menstrual cycle, beginning after ovulation and concluding at the onset of the next menstrual period. The luteal phase is generally between 12 to 16 days and is responsible for thickening the lining of the uterine wall in anticipation of possible conception and initiating a new menstural cycle if fertilization does not occur.

FertilitySmarts explains Luteal Phase

A woman’s monthly menstrual cycle is comprised of three phases: menstruation, the follicular phase, and the luteal phase.

The luteal phase coincides with the end of ovulation. After the egg is released, the now-empty follicle that once housed the egg becomes known as the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum begins to produces the sex hormone progesterone that supports the uterine lining in completing its regrowth.

By the time the fertilized egg, now an embryo, reaches the uterus (4 to 5 days after ovulation), the uterine lining has developed into a thick and nourishing layer in preparation for implantation (the process of the embryo attaching to the lining of the uterus).

Around 11 to 13 days after ovulation, If the egg reached the uterus and it has not been fertilized or implantation does not occur, the progesterone amounts decrease, triggering the uterine lining to shed. This causes menstrual bleeding, and marks the onset of another menstrual cycle.

When the body does not secrete enough progesterone to fully develop the uterine lining it is considered a luteal phase defect (LPD).

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