When you are trying to conceive, it can seem like there is a whole new world of terms and definitions that previously escaped your grasp. Now, however, is the time to bring yourself up to speed.
Whether your doctor has mentioned it or you have read about it on a fertility forum, understanding your luteal phase is crucial to conceiving so you should get to know it a little better.
Your luteal phase begins on the day after you ovulate, and runs through the rest of your menstrual cycle, ending the day before your next period. Typically, this will last anywhere from 10 to 16 days and it is generally consistent from cycle to cycle. However, if you have an abnormal or inconsistent cycle, you will probably find that your luteal phase will also be unpredictable. For most women, though, it lasts for 14 days.
If you have been frequenting the online Trying to Conceive (TTC) forums, you may have encountered the acronym, “DPO.” This is another way of referring to the Luteal Phase and it literally means Days Past Ovulation. When the Luteal Phase begins, your basal body temperature increases in order to provide a more fertile environment for a fertilized egg.
The luteal phase for a typical fertile woman is about 10 to 16 days in length. If yours happens to be shorter, it is possible that it may be too short for successful implantation to occur. Women who are trying to conceive and are known to have a short luteal phase are often treated with progesterone therapy, and some women have found success with other natural remedies.
If you do not know whether you have an average or short Luteal Phase, start by assuming the normal 14 day average. Many women begin ovulation 14 days after they get their period, but it does not always happen this way. You may track your ovulation with an ovulation calendar, an over-the-counter kit or by charting your basal body temperature. Once you know when you have begun ovulating, you can start tracing your luteal phase. The number of days from the day after your first day of ovulation to the day you are supposed to get your next period is the number of days in your luteal phase.
Implantation will only occur when an egg becomes fertilized, so if sperm does not penetrate the egg, implantation will not occur during the cycle. If the egg does become fertilized, this usually happens within three to four days of ovulation (or when the egg drops into the fallopian tube). From here, it starts dividing and making the slow journey from the fallopian tube to the uterus. Once the fertilized egg reaches the uterus, implantation begins. This is where the fertilized egg begins burrowing into the plush uterine wall. Some women notice slight bleeding or spotting at this time.