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What happens during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle?

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The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle begins right after ovulation and involves the following processes:

  • Once it releases its egg, the empty follicle develops into a new structure called the corpus luteum.
  • The corpus luteum secretes the hormone progesterone, which prepares the uterus for a fertilized egg to implant.
  • If intercourse has taken place and a man's sperm has fertilized the egg (a process called conception), the fertilized egg (embryo) will travel through the fallopian tube to implant in the uterus. The woman is now considered pregnant.
  • If the egg is not fertilized, it passes through the uterus. Because it's no longer needed to support a pregnancy, the lining of the uterus breaks down and sheds, and the next menstrual period begins.

SOURCES: National Institutes of Health. The Merck Manual. American Society of Reproductive Medicine.


Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson on December 12, 2018

SOURCES: National Institutes of Health. The Merck Manual. American Society of Reproductive Medicine.


Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson on December 12, 2018

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