If you’re trying to get pregnant one of the things you need to be aware of is your luteal phase.
There’s a lot of emphasis on identifying when you ovulate – and rightly so, this is what allows you to time your attempts to conceive to a point when they’re most likely to be successful. If you have a fertility tracker it’s with the aim of identifying the point at which you ovulate and predicting it each month so you can try to conceive.
The part of your cycle that follows ovulation is very important to ensuring a successful pregnancy, though, and it gets less attention than when you ovulate. It’s called the Luteal Phase and today we’re looking at why it’s important and how to make sure yours is giving your body what it needs to sustain a pregnancy.
What is the Luteal Phase?
After you ovulate – when your ovaries eject an egg – your body is no longer focussed on preparing that egg. That means your hormones go to work on a different task: preparing your womb to receive a fertilised egg. It does this by laying down a thick lining known as uterine lining or endometrial lining.
This receives the egg, cushioning it as it enters the uterus and holds it in place, nourishing it as it begins to develop into a foetus.
If your luteal phase doesn’t last long enough, then your uterine lining won’t have sufficient thickness to receive the egg, so it may not implant successfully even if it fertilised.
The key to success here is working to lengthen to your luteal phase, to give your body the best chance for a successful pregnancy.
There are plenty of ways you can lengthen your luteal phase without taking medication (talking to your doctor about this issue can be somewhat fraught as the NHS doesn’t currently recognise problems with the luteal phase as having an impact on fertility).
Vitamin C, either added to your diet in fresh fruit and vegetables or as a supplement has been shown to improve the thickness of the endometrial lining within two menstrual cycles, and could have a real positive effect on your attempts to get pregnant.
If you’re eating more fresh vegetables this mean you’ll also be getting more B vitamins, magnesium and calcium which are not only good for your health in general: they play a specific role in regulating hormone production and flow around your body. As this whole process is driven by hormones, making sure there are working correctly is important.
There are also natural remedies like vitex, derived from chasteberry, which many believe help to balance your progesterone levels which helps to even out your menstrual cycle.