Luteal Phase In Menstrual Cycle - What Does It Mean ?

Luteal Phase In Menstrual Cycle - What Does It Mean ?

Published: 06:19AM 24 May 2023

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Jayti Shah

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The menstrual cycle, a monthly occurrence in women of reproductive age, is a complex interplay of hormones resulting in a series of physiological changes. Among the various stages, the luteal phase, the final part of the menstrual cycle, plays a significant role in women's health. This phase begins after ovulation and ends with the start of menstruation. Understanding the impacts of this phase on women's bodies and minds can offer invaluable insights into female health and wellness. This article delves into the science behind the luteal phase and its influences on women's lives.

The Luteal Phase: An Overview

The luteal phase typically starts around day 14 and ends around day 28 in a standard 28-day menstrual cycle. This phase commences after ovulation when the follicle that released an egg transforms into a structure known as the corpus luteum. The primary role of the corpus luteum is to produce progesterone, a hormone crucial for maintaining the uterine lining in preparation for potential embryo implantation. If fertilization does not occur, the corpus luteum disintegrates, progesterone levels drop, and the menstrual cycle concludes with the shedding of the uterine lining.

Impacts of the Luteal Phase

  1. Preparation for Potential Pregnancy: The primary function of the luteal phase is to prepare the body for potential pregnancy. The corpus luteum produces progesterone, which thickens the lining of the uterus and creates a supportive environment for a fertilized egg to implant and grow. If fertilization doesn't occur, the drop in progesterone triggers menstruation.
  2. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Many women experience a range of physical and emotional symptoms during the luteal phase, collectively referred to as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Symptoms can include bloating, headaches, mood swings, fatigue, and breast tenderness. These symptoms are believed to be linked to the hormonal fluctuations that occur during this phase.
  3. Luteal Phase Defect (LPD): In some cases, the luteal phase may be shorter than normal or the production of progesterone may be insufficient, a condition known as luteal phase defect. LPD can lead to difficulties in achieving or maintaining a pregnancy, as a healthy luteal phase is crucial for embryo implantation and early development.
  4. Basal Body Temperature Changes: Due to increased progesterone production, a woman's basal body temperature often rises slightly during the luteal phase. Some women track this temperature shift as a way to understand their menstrual cycle and fertility window.
  5. Cognitive Functioning: Some research suggests subtle changes in cognitive functioning across the menstrual cycle. During the luteal phase, when progesterone levels are high, some women may experience minor memory changes or mood-related cognitive biases.
  6. Changes in Libido: Research indicates that sexual desire may decrease during the luteal phase compared to the ovulation phase. This is likely due to the decline in estrogen and testosterone levels after ovulation.


The luteal phase is a crucial part of the menstrual cycle that plays a significant role in women's reproductive health and overall well-being. Understanding the hormonal changes and impacts of this phase can help women better navigate their health decisions and manage potential menstrual-related challenges. It's important to remember that every woman's experience of the luteal phase can be different, and any concerns should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

Jayti Shah is a Clinical Nutritionist with a master's degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association (IDA). Over the last 9 years, she has helped 400 clients in their clinical and weight loss journeys. She works with SocialBoat as a nutrition consultant.

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  2. Prior, J. C. (2002). Progesterone as a bone-trophic hormone. Endocrine Reviews, 13(2), 386-398.
  3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2015). Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Patient Education Pamphlets - Spanish, (AP057).
  4. Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2015). The clinical relevance of luteal phase deficiency: a committee opinion. Fertility and Sterility, 104(3), 54-60.
  5. Barron, M. L., & Fehring, R. J. (2005). Basal body temperature assessment: Is it useful to couples seeking pregnancy?. MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 30(5), 290-296.
  6. Sundström Poromaa, I., & Gingnell, M. (2014). Menstrual cycle influence on cognitive function and emotion processing—from a reproductive perspective. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 8, 380.
  7. Roney, J. R., & Simmons, Z. L. (2013). Hormonal predictors of sexual motivation in natural menstrual cycles. Hormones and Behavior, 63(4), 636-645.
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