Hertility’s Menstrual Cycle Basics: Let’s meet the Luteal Phase
Over the last three blogs in our Menstrual Cycles Basics with Hertility, we've looked at periods, the follicular phase & ovulation. Last but by no means least, our final stop on the menstrual cycle phases tour is the luteal phase.
What is the luteal phase?
The luteal phase starts from the day after ovulation and lasts until the day before your next period. Until now, it’s been thought that the phase is usually constant, lasting about 14 days; however recent research has shown that it might last between 7 to 19 days. Its main role is a biggie - to prepare the body for a possible pregnancy. Let’s take a closer look at how it works.
After ovulation, the egg leaves behind a now empty follicle which gets repurposed into a small hormone-making factory called the corpus luteum. The main job of the corpus luteum is to make progesterone, which helps the inner lining of the womb (the endometrium) become nice and thick to help support all the growth needs of the embryo. You might notice that your cervical mucus, unlike the slippery, stretchy consistency during ovulation, is now thicker like a paste. This is due to the increasing progesterone.
What happens if a sperm fertilises the egg?
If fertilisation (the process during which the egg and sperm unite to form the embryo) and implantation (the process during which the egg gets attached to the endometrium) happen successfully, then the corpus luteum will keep growing and making progesterone till the placenta can take over ( the organ that acts like a connection between mom and baby and helps it get its food and oxygen from mum).
Now, if fertilisation does not happen, the corpus luteum starts to shrink, causing a drop in progesterone and oestrogen, which triggers your period. And this is often the point in your cycle where you’ll start experiencing PMS (premenstrual syndrome), which is a combination of physical symptoms like bloating, breast tenderness, acne, backaches, headaches along with emotional symptoms like feeling anxious. irritable, tired, and overwhelmed. Please remember this is absolutely normal, but if you find it getting in the way of your daily life and affecting you, then you should seek out help for it.
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