What’s the Luteal Phase?
Right after ovulation, your menstrual cycle enters the luteal phase (when your ovary releases an egg). It lasts for roughly 14 days and comes to an end when you start your period.
The egg leaves the follicle and traverses the fallopian tube, where it may come into contact with sperm and become fertilized. The follicle then undergoes a transformation. The empty sac closes off, becomes yellowish, and develops into a new organ—known as the corpus luteum.
Progesterone, as well as some estrogen, is released by the corpus luteum. Your uterus’ lining becomes thicker, all thanks to progesterone, allowing a fertilized egg to implant. The lining then develops blood vessels to nurture an embryo that will receive oxygen and nourishment from these veins.
Your body will begin to create human gonadotropin if you become pregnant (hCG). The corpus luteum is maintained by this hormone, and it continues making progesterone till week 10 of your pregnancy. Then the placenta takes over the manufacturing of progesterone.
With time, the levels of progesterone will decrease. The corpus luteum will shrink and break apart into tiny bits of scar tissue if you are not successful in getting pregnant during this stage.
Throughout your period, the uterine lining will shed, and the cycle will then start all over again.
Do’s During Luteal Phase
Your luteal phase is a critical time to be mindful of the following do’s:
1. Eat clean and healthy foods.
The luteal phase is the time when you feel strong pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS), like—sugar cravings, bloating, mood swings, and anxiety.
According to medical research, the reason behind cravings is the spike in progesterone, which can also stimulate unhealthy food-eating habits due to a rise in appetite.
To fight unhealthy cravings, eat foods rich in calcium, magnesium, vitamins, and minerals.
Also, adding lean proteins like eggs, leafy greens, tofu, lentils, and fish to each meal during the day can help you keep the hunger pangs away.
2. Perform strength training and stay hydrated.
Morning bloat is the number one disadvantage of the luteal phase, and it can worsen due to the thickening of the uterus and unhealthy eating habits.
Having lukewarm water early in the morning with strength training or body-weight exercise movements will help you de-bloat instantly by releasing build-up gas in the digestive system.
3. Track your luteal phase for pregnancy.
If you are planning to get pregnant—make sure to keep a close eye on your letual phase timeline.
If your letual phase is shorter than 10 days or way longer than 18 days, it can be a strong indicator of infertility. Although we all have different bodies, so if you suspect something is wrong, you must consult your healthcare expert for a professional diagnosis.
Don’ts During Luteal Phase
While you are still in your luteal phase, keep an eye out for these unhealthy lifestyle practices:
1. Avoid stress.
Progesterone levels are significantly influenced by chronic stress. When you feel stressed or anxious, your body produces more cortisol (a hormone that helps you deal with stress).
However, progesterone is the precursor to cortisol, progesterone levels will fall as the cortisol levels rise. All this hormonal drama can mess with the length of your letual phase, resulting in irregular spotting or missing of the period.
2. Avoid sleepless nights.
Poor sleep can also affect the length of your letual phase. If you are not getting enough sleep, look out for insomnia symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
To manage these symptoms, start practicing mindfulness. Perform meditation for 10 to 20 minutes before you sleep, as this can help you balance your emotions as well as improve the quality of your sleep.
3. Avoid crash diets.
Fad diets like keto, paleo, or atkins may work for some, but these are not meant to be for everyone. Moreover, crash diets are only temporary fixes. Remember that if you cannot sustain a diet in the longer run it might not be very effective.
Also, as per research, food restriction can cause nutritional gaps, causing adverse weakness and slowdown of important bodily functions. Thus, you must avoid diets that make you feel physically tired and emotionally drained.
Rather than eating a low-carb, low-fat, or low-sugar diet, consider eating a complex-carb, lean protein-rich diet with seasonal fruits and vegetables to enhance your letual phase progress.
The luteal phase is all about preparing the uterus for pregnancy. If you are planning to get pregnant, then it’s a must to take care of your body during the luteal phase and maintain a good hormonal balance with healthy lifestyle habits.
In case it’s hard for you to get pregnant or you have faced multiple miscarriages. Then it might be possible that you must be suffering from a condition called luteal phase defect.
This defect is occurred due to abnormal corpus luteum function and inadequate progesterone synthesis. Although it is challenging to determine the exact cause behind luteum disorder, but 3-4% of women face infertility problems due to this defect.
Make sure you talk to your doctor regarding your diagnosis and treatment options for this condition.