Luteal insufficiency

What is Luteal Insufficiency?

Luteal insufficiency, or also known as luteal phase defect, is a disorder of the ovulation cycle where the corpus luteum does not secrete enough progesterone to promote a healthy uterine wall for embryo implantation. This can affect fertility and is typically observed when the luteal phase is less than 10 days.

When a woman ovulates, an egg is released from the ovary. It travels to the fallopian tube to be fertilized. Once fertilized, the egg travels down to the uterus and implants in the uterine wall. The corpus luteum, or the “yellow body”, is formed in the ovary after ovulation and is responsible for secreting the hormone progesterone to thicken the uterine lining for implantation. If the corpus luteum does not secrete enough progesterone, the uterine lining will remain thin leading to an unfavorable environment for a fertilized egg to implant.

Causes of Luteal Insufficiency

The exact cause of luteal insufficiency is unknown but there are some common conditions associated with this disorder:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperandrogenism
  • Insufficient luteal phase length
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Hormonal imbalances such as inadequate progesterone production
  • Premature luteal phase termination
  • Abnormalities of the uterus or endometrium

Symptoms of Luteal Insufficiency

The most common symptom of luteal insufficiency is irregular menstrual cycles. This can include irregular menstrual bleedings, spotting, and even missed periods. Additionally, due to the lack of progesterone, a woman may experience symptoms often associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) such as breast tenderness, headaches, mood swings, and fatigue.

Diagnosis of Luteal Insufficiency

Luteal insufficiency is typically diagnosed through blood tests to measure pelvic hormone levels. Additionally, your gynecologist may conduct an ultrasound to look at the uterus and ovaries to check for any abnormalities or cysts that may be affecting the luteal phase.

Treatment of Luteal Insufficiency

Treatment typically involves hormone therapy to supplement progesterone levels. This can be through oral medications, vaginal gels, or intramuscular injections. Other treatments may include lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise. Additionally, stress management techniques may be recommended to help regulate hormone levels.