TTC: Discovering My Short Luteal Phase
Who knew trying to get pregnant was so much science? Not me. 5 months of fear, tears, and reading anything and everything on Google in search of an answer and I finally got pregnant. There was a lot of talk of being “subfertile”, “having low progesterone”, and a “short luteal phase”. I’m here to help you understand what the heck it means and some things that worked for me.
**Disclaimer: I am NOT a professional. I am just sharing my experience. Every woman is different and unique. What worked for me may not work for you though I wish you all the best!
After believing I had a positive pregnancy test, I contacted my doctor. It was negative and I was worried so she decided to run a few more tests. She tested my progesterone levels. Progesterone is what helps create a healthy environment in your uterus for a fertilized egg. There are varying opinions but my doctor said they use 15 as their cut off for showing good ovulation. Less that that they consider suboptimal and start Clomid, a medication used to stimulate ovulation. She went on to say my number was 6.8, pretty low, and I was probably sub-fertile meaning I may eventually get pregnant on my own.
Earth. Shattering. My heart still stops when I think about this. I remember being at the school I taught at that day when I received that phone call. The tears wouldn’t stop coming. Would I ever be a mom? Why was this happening to me? I’m only 23! My mom has 5 kids, 4 of them are twins. This can’t be. But it was.
In the end, I decided to get a second (and third) opinion. Both doctors thought this was ridiculous. You typically wait 1 year to begin talking fertility treatments for someone my age and they were ready to prescribe Clomid after 3 months! I did end up going with a different doctor (whom I love) but I don’t consider this all to be a waste.
Because of this doctor, I decided to take charge of my body. To understand it. To take care of it. This is when I decided to start temping and realized that my previous doctor wasn’t completely off.
*I can’t say this enough… I recommend getting the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”. This book really helped me through this process!
I began just keeping track of my cervical mucous and testing daily with ovulation predictor kits or OPKs. OPKs are made to detect a surge of the luteinizing hormone (LH) which typically occurs 1-2 days before ovulation. If you are trying to get pregnant, you use this signal to predict when you are most fertile.
I was keeping track of when I ovulated and noticed that after I ovulated I only had an 8 day luteal phase. The luteal phase occurs after ovulation and before your next period. During you LP, the lining of your uterus begins to get thick to prepare for impending implantation of a fertilized egg. A normal luteal phase should be anywhere between 10-16 days, average is 14. I realized my problem was a short luteal phase.
A short luteal phase can prevent you from getting pregnant because there might not be enough time for the egg to reach the endometrium before it gets shed. If you find that this is you, there are a few steps you can take to fix it. I decided to look into more natural ways to try before taking more invasive and expensive measures.
What I Tried & Worked For Me
Vitex Chasteberry Extract
I read a variety of resources and blogs of women that tried this and decided to give it a shot. Vitex’ purpose is to help balance hormones. I had been on birth control for years prior to trying and always wondered if it would have a lasting effect once I stopped. I decided to try this to see if it could help my body get back on track. It had been shown in studies to increase luteal phase length by helping the body produce the luteinizing hormone that in turn boosts the progesterone levels (like my levels needed).
Vitamin B6 is super important when it comes to fertility because it regulates your hormones. Being deficient in B6 can cause irregular cycles and progesterone imbalance. Low progesterone=short luteal phase. Increasing your B6 intake can possibly increase your luteal phase!
Red Raspberry Leaves
You can do either tea or pill form. I went for the pill form because it was easiest for me and I am not a huge tea drinker. RRL has a lot of benefits. It is best to be used when trying to conceive and at the end of pregnancy to prepare your body for labor and delivery. It is known to strengthen the uterine lining and can help lengthen your luteal phase. Red Raspberry Leaf is great for you whether you are trying to conceive or not. Why not give it a try?
All in all, I tried all 3 of these together and I noticed an increase in my luteal phase. I began charting my basal body temperature (there’s a whole other blog on that) the same month. I highly suggest you do this. If I hadn’t started charting, I may never have noticed what was going on with my body and realized the root problem. After 1 month of trying these 3 home remedies together daily, my luteal phase shot up to 11 days! An increase of 3 days! My next cycle, I ended up P R E G N A N T! It’s amazing how a few days can make a difference.
Here is my chart from when I got pregnant. For more on charting, look for my blog post “How to Chart BBT”
Best of Luck! I am rooting for you!