What Is the Luteal Phase of the Menstrual Cycle

The Basics Behind Premenstruation

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The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, also known as the premenstrual phase or the ovulatory phase, begins on Day 14, after ovulation occurs, and continues until Day 1 of your next period. On average, the luteal phase lasts between 10 to 14 days. If the luteal phase is less than 10 days, this may indicate a fertility problem, sometimes referred to as a luteal phase defect.

During the luteal phase, estrogen and progesterone increase and work together to create changes in the lining of the uterus that prepare it to accept an embryo, should conception occur.

When conception (or pregnancy) does not occur, estrogen and progesterone levels decline and the lining of the uterus, called the endometrial lining, begins to shed. This then leads to menstruation.

The Relationship Between Luteal Phase Defects and Miscarriages

A luteal phase defect (also called a luteal phase dysfunction or luteal phase deficiency) refers to a problem with the luteal phase, with the result being that the uterine lining might not be optimally prepared for implantation of a fertilized egg.

However, the luteal phase defect is only a theoretical cause of infertility or miscarriage. The idea underlying this theory is that if the uterus is not fully prepared to support a pregnancy, then either a woman will not get pregnant at all or the pregnancy will not implant properly and will ultimately miscarry.

How Many Phases Are There During the Menstrual Cycle?

There are just two menstrual cycle phases that occur during every monthly cycle.

 The first phase is the follicular phase, or the proliferative phase. The follicular phase begins on Day 1 of the menstrual cycle, when estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest. During this phase, the uterine lining, or endometrial lining, both sheds through menstruation and begins a period of regrowth and thickening in preparation for an embryo should conception occur.

 This follicular phase lasts about 10 to 14 days, or until ovulation occurs, after which you pass into the luteal phase.

Recommended Reading

The Follicular Phase of the Menstrual Cycle. More on what happens during the follicular phase, and how long it lasts.

The Menstrual Cycle. The menstrual cycle is a complex process that prepares the body for a potential pregnancy each month. 

The Menstrual Cycle. Further information on your reproductive hormones, how your hormones interact with them, the phases of menstruation, and more.

Everything You Need To Know About Menstruation. Menstruation is vaginal bleeding that occurs each month. It is also known as menses, your menstrual period, or just your period.

Why Do Women Bleed Every Month? A deep dive into the process of menstruation.

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