Luteal Phase Defect (LPD)

A treatable condition which may go undetected without adequate diagnosis and can lead to both difficulty conceiving and early miscarriage.

In an attempt to simplify this complex but common condition, it helps to have in place some basic knowledge of the cycles which effect a woman's reproductive capacity: the menstrual cycle and the ovarian cycle.

The Menstrual Cycle

Proliferative Phase
Growth of endometrium under influence of estradiol. *Corresponds with Follicular Phase.
Secretory Phase
Endometrium stops growing and starts producing secretions (used to nourish an implanted embryo). *Corresponds with Luteal Phase.
Menstrual Phase
Endometrium sheds (the "period") due to withdrawal of progesterone. (Corresponds with end of Luteal Phase & beginning of Follicular Phase.)

The menstrual cycle refers to the cyclical development and then shedding of the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. This cycle has 3 phases, as illustrated in the above tables.

The Ovarian Cycle

Follicular Phase
Prior to ovulation, indicated by growth of follicles and a dominant follicle, and production of estradiol. Approx. 14 days in length, this phase typically becomes shorter as women age. "FP" corresponds with the Proliferative Phase of the menstrual cycle.
Luteal Phase
After ovulation, indicated by the corpus luteum (left from the ruptured follicle after ovulation) and production of progesterone. Approx. 11 to 16 days in length. Menstruation signals end of Luteal Phase / begin of Follicular Phase. "LP" corresponds with the Secretory Phase of the menstrual cycle.

The ovarian cycle refers to the cyclical development and then expelling of the egg from the ovary. This cycle has 2 phases, as illustrated, which optimally correspond with the phases of the menstrual cycle.

If a woman's luteal phase is shorter than average, it may be considered a Luteal Phase Defect, or LPD. The luteal phase may be shortened as a result of a prior defect of the follicular phase or a defect of the development of the tertiary follicle. The result can be either (a) a defect in an ovulated egg, or (b) a luteinized unruptured follicle. (A luteinized unruptured follicle is caused if during her LH (luteinizing hormone) surge, a woman produces only enough LH to cause the follicle to produce progesterone, but not enough to cause the follicle to rupture and release it's egg.)