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Luteal Phase Defect

Lori Ramsey


Luteal phase defect (LPD) is a luteal phase of less than ten days. The luteal phase is the time between ovulation and menstruation. It's the progesterone production time in the cycle. Ideally, this needs to be around 12 to 14 days. Realistically, a good luteal phase could be between 10 and 17 days - with the norm at 14 days. When the luteal phase falls below 10 days - and some doctors believe that if it falls below 12 days - then there is a problem.

The good news is that luteal phase defects are easily treated with supplements and/or with prescription drugs. And most of the time can be treated without the use of invasive drugs. I advise everyone to seek the advice of their physician or nutritionist before taking any supplements I recommend.

My own experience with luteal phase defects has been easily remedied. When I began charting in March of 1999, my luteal phase was 9 days. I was breastfeeding my 15 month old daughter at the time and fully believe this was the cause. However, knowing that women can get pregnant while breastfeeding, I began to take 63 mg of vitamin B6 a day. This increased my luteal phase, the very cycle I took the B6, to 11 days. I kept up with the regimen and by May my luteal phase increased to 12 days. I weaned my daughter in July at 19 months - figuring that the breastfeeding was indeed keeping me infertile. I did get pregnant the following cycle, only to end in miscarriage - a chemical pregnancy. My luteal phase *seemed* to jump to 14 days, when indeed I was actually pregnant. The following cycle my luteal phase increased to 13 days and I assumed that it was from the absence of breastfeeding. However, to help prevent further early miscarriages, I began using progesterone cream, and this increased my luteal phase to a whopping 15 days.

A luteal phase below 10 days cannot sustain a pregnancy. This is because not enough progesterone is being produced. If a woman were to get pregnant with a luteal phase defect, she would more than likely miscarry. If a doctor finds a luteal phase defect, s/he will probably prescribe progesterone. This can be in the form of pills, or the more popular suppositories. These are taken after ovulation has occurred and either taken for anywhere from 2 past ovulation to, sometimes, the 10th to 12th week of pregnancy - should one occur.

I found it very easy to lengthen my luteal phase with vitamin B6 and progesterone cream. There are some who feel the progesterone cream doesn't do anything; however, in my belief it does help. My luteal phase increased from 13 to 15 days while using the cream. I use a cream with natural progesterone in it called Emerita Progest Cream. I use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon twice a day after ovulation on my inner arm, inner thighs, belly, chest and neck - alternating the locations each time. The cream will not halt menstruation from occurring, if pregnancy is not achieved. I use the cream to 16 days post ovulation, when my menstruation starts.

If you think you have a luteal phase defect--you find out through charting and knowing the exact day of ovulation--the measures to take to correct the deficiency are up to you. I personally did not ask my doctor before taking the vitamin B6 or the progesterone cream; however, it would be smart to seek their advice first.

Lori Ramsey is a freelance writer and mother of three children.

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Leigh Jan 9, 2013 10:39:08 PM ET

Hello everyone, my partner and I TTC for 2 years with no success. The suspected culprit was my luteal phase defect and low progesterone, as my luteal phase was 10 days. I had had a short cycle my whole life, anywhere from 21 days to 25 days. My partner and I decided to go vegan and remove all animal sources from our diet. Sure enough, by the third month, my luteal phase jumped from 10 days to 13 and my basal temperatures during my luteal phase were higher than ever! We conceived a month later. The doctors had told me I would need fertility drugs and progesterone (which I tried before going vegan with no success) and as it turns out, it was ingesting animal hormones my whole life that was preventing me from conceiving. Before any of you go on horrible medications to fix this problem, please try going on a plant-based's unbelievable the difference it made for me.

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Jay Aug 14, 2012 08:58:22 PM ET

To Ruth, who stated "too high a dosage of b6 can result in birth defects, as it can be stored in the muscles and cause neurological problems also" This is *not* true. B6 is a water soluble vitamin. Water soluble vitamins do NOT build up in your system if you take too much. The worst that it could possibly do is make you urinate more, or cause diarrhea. Again water soluble vitamins will NOT build up in your system/muscles, will NOT cause birth defects and will NOT cause neurological disorders.

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Paula Jun 26, 2012 06:39:28 PM ET

It took 2 1/2 years for my period to return after the birth of my son and I hoped to conceive again quickly, which i did....the second month I had a chemical pregnancy. I began charting the next cycle and discovered my luteal phase was 8-9 days, likely due to elevated prolactin levels from extended breastfeeding. I took Vit B6 from about cd10 with Vitex, and a wild yam cream after ovulation. That cycle lp increased to 10 days, and this cycle I'm on 12dpo.......even if af arrives tomorrow, I'm v pleased at the fast changes in my cycle. Definitely worth a try!

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L Mar 18, 2012 03:13:04 AM ET

This is misleading. I have a short LP (less than 10 days) and took B6 and progesterone cream for MONTHS and it did not help my LP in the slightest! 2 years later and I'm still TTC my first. So sad and frustrating that I cannot conceive with a short LP! :( The ONLY thing that has ever lengthened it was the few months I tried Clomid (yet still never got pregnant).

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Kitty Oct 24, 2010 02:00:02 AM ET

I had trouble conceiving for a long time. My luteal phase was sometimes only 5 or 6 days long but my OB didn't believe in progesterone therapy. After having a miscarriage and doing some reading about LPDs, I finally insisted on a progesterone suppository prescription. I conceived the month I started those suppositories, and the pregnancy stuck (I continued the suppositories for the entire first trimester). My boy is now a healthy 2 month old.

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Jennifer Sep 13, 2010 01:06:18 AM ET

I've had 2 early miscarriages. I started going to an acupuncturist who had me chart my cycles with BBT. She told me I had a short luteal phase. I tested it the next cycle to be sure with OPK and sure enough, 9 day luteal phase. They even did the progestrone test on day 21 and my levels were normal at 18.8. I'm currently 4 wks pregnant and my dr has had me on progesterone suppositories since 4 days after I ovulated. Fingers crossed!

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ellyott Mar 19, 2010 11:43:49 PM ET

I have been off the pill for just 5 months and did OPK test last month which would put my luteal phase at just 10 days. could this still be my cycle normalising after the pill? or should I see my doctor about gettin supplements? I am very confused and worried!

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Ruth Dec 8, 2009 10:28:06 AM ET

Yes, it is important to consult a doctor when supplementing. Too high a dosage of B6 can result in birth defects, as it can be stored in the muscles and cause neurological problems also. If you stop your supplement too soon it could result in miscarriage. I think B6 is great for lenghening LP, but if you are not careful you could have a miscarriage.

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April Hewey Apr 28, 2009 09:29:11 PM ET

Hi Lori, Thank you for writing on this subject and sharing your knowledge.I am 35 years old,trying to conceive for the first time.Charting my cycles and doing IUI I have noticed my luteal phase is only just 10 days.I had my first IUI this month which resulted in a chemical pregnancy and I am so sad.I didn't know anything about LPD and my bloodwork has always been normal. My doctor didn't ask how long each phase was so I didn't think anything about mentioning it to her.A good friend told me that I might have LPD which resulted in the chemical pregnancy and I should think about starting B6 right away.So I started it today and will see how it goes.I may decide to add progesterone to it but I am seeing my doctor next week. Thank you for your article.I felt so lost this week but you have given me hope so thank you. April

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Lori Jan 20, 2009 11:12:36 PM ET

Thank you so much for your wisdom on this subject! I am currently pumping breastmilk 3 times a day and have wondered why I'm having trouble getting pregnant. I spend about 3 hours at the pump and only get 9 oz. My son is 19 mos. old and we just moved to a new place. I was hoping to get pregnant while lactating, but know I must start charting my cycles. Thanks for your insight!

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