Luteal Phase Defect
A luteal phase defect is a disruption in a woman's monthly menstrual cycle.
The luteal phase is one stage of the menstrual cycle. It occurs after ovulation (when the ovaries release an egg) and before your period starts.
During this phase, the lining of your uterus normally becomes thicker to prepare for a possible pregnancy.
If you have a luteal phase defect, the lining of your uterus does not grow properly each month. This can make it difficult to become or remain pregnant, although there is a debate about whether this is a direct cause of infertility.
A luteal phase defect may also be called an "inadequate luteal phase" or an abnormality in endometrial development.
Causes of Luteal Phase Defect
The luteal phase is usually about 12 to14 days long. During this time, your ovaries produce a hormone called progesterone. This hormone tells the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, to grow.
If you become pregnant, the developing baby attaches to this thickened lining. If you do not become pregnant, the lining eventually sheds, and you have a period.
A luteal phase defect can occur if:
- Your ovaries do not release enough progesterone.
- The lining of the uterus does not properly respond to the progesterone.
Luteal phase defect has been linked to many health conditions, including:
- Extreme amounts of exercise
- Hyperprolactinemia (excess of a hormone that's responsible for milk production in breasts)
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Thyroid disorders
Many times, treatment of the underlying disorder will correct the luteal phase defect.
Luteal Phase Defect Symptoms
Symptoms of luteal phase defect may include:
- More frequent periods
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Spotting in between periods
Diagnosing Luteal Phase Defect
It may be difficult to diagnose a luteal phase defect. There is no single test that can diagnose it.
Blood tests that can be helpful include:
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level
- Luteinizing hormone (LH) level
- Pregnancy test
- Progesterone level
Some doctors recommend a series of endometrial biopsies. This checks the lining of the uterus. A small sample of this lining is removed at a specific time of the month and examined under a microscope.