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What is a Luteal Phase and What Role Does it Play in Infertility?

Your luteal phase is frequently referred to as DPO or days past ovulation. This is the period of time from when you ovulate until the day before your period begins. In most women, the luteal phase lasts 14 days and does not vary more than a day less or a day more in the majority of women. The corpus luteum is what the luteal phase is named for and it is responsible for producing progesterone so the body is prepared for pregnancy. In order for the pregnancy to be viable the luteal phase must be at least 10 days long. Otherwise, miscarriage is more likely.

The time you ovulate in your menstrual cycle is determined by the luteal phase. There are many things that could delay ovulation including medicine, stress, increased activity, and the like. However, the luteal phase usually stays the same. When you have this to count on then you can calculate when you will ovulate by subtracting the number of days of your cycle. So, for women who have an average 28 day cycle and their lutal phase is 14 days long then ovulation will occur on the 14 day of their cycle (28-14=14). If you use an ovulation calendar then you will notice it uses this same formula to determine when you will ovulate. If you can keep track of your luteal phase then this is a great way to figure out when you will ovulate.

The length of your luteal phase is determined exactly through blood tests that look for specific hormones. However, if you don’t know your luteal phase or don’t want to have blood tests to determine when it is then you can assume it is 14 days. That’s because most women have a 14 day luteal phase. Then, you can calculate a luteal phase from 11-15 days and just assume you are ovulating at some point during that week. Then, you can really focus on trying to conceive!

Last modified: February 10, 2013

The information provided here should not be considered medical advice. It is based on the average experience of women trying to conceive and may not be what you may be experiencing. It's not meant to be a replacement for any advice you may receive from your doctor. If you have any concerns about your cycle or our ability to get pregnant, we advise you to contact your doctor.