Wednesday, March 9, 2011


One of my favorite hobbies is diagnosing myself with new diseases.

I'm rarely correct and oftentimes ailments I believe I have (thyroid tumors, panic attacks, and ectopic pregnancy, for example) are explained by doctors in more simple terms (vitamin deficiencies, anemia, cramps).

But this time? Well, I've really done my homework this time, and I can tell you almost beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have a luteal phase defect.

*commence eye-rolling from my mother*

(My mom believes her Mexican genes trump all. I should be able to merely think about being pregnant, and it should occur. She keeps saying, Believe me, you don't have a problem getting pregnant, because she and my dad conceived me in about 30 seconds when she was 25 years old. Anyhoo!)

Now, you may be asking: What, pray tell, is a luteal phase defect. Unless you are a frequenter of fertility blogs, in which case I'm afraid you're probably already all-too familiar with such things.

The luteal phase refers to the days in your cycle following ovulation, when all sorts of magical things should be happening. Ideally, as a woman trying to get pregnant, there should be a zygote somewhere up in your junk be-bopping along on its way to your uterus, where it should then implant into the endometrium and dear God why do I know all of this?

If you have a luteal phase defect, your luteal phase may be too short, or your progesterone may be too low, both of which result in insufficient endometrium, therefore preventing implantation of the embryo.

After two months (admittedly not that long but I haven't been following the Making Babies plan for that long) of measuring my basal rate temperature in the mornings, what I'm noticing is that my temperature is spiking and dropping in the luteal phase, which is not good. Ideally what it would look like is this:

Here the temperature continues to rise, eventually reaching what is called a "triphasic pattern," indicating pregnancy.

Here is what my chart looks like this cycle:

According to the book, this is an indication of low progesterone, with a possibility of a luteal phase defect (which is determined for certain via blood and other tests). I could run off and get the tests done, but since I'm trying to get pregnant as naturally as possible, I'm going to do the following:

1. Lose 40 pounds. The more fat there is, the more estrogen there is. Too much estrogen can prevent ovulation. Being overweight also coincides with an increase in androgens, which also prevent ovulation. Not to mention an association to wonky insulin levels, which can affect fertility.

2. Take chaste tree berry, an herb that can help lengthen the luteal phase.

3.  Drink red raspberry leaf tea, which improves blood flow to the uterus.

4. Try a number of other natural remedies that I'll discuss in a later post. 

My annual papsmear is in June, and I'm hoping that by then, I'll have lost the weight and maybe even have conceived. We'll see! In the meantime I'll continue charting my temperatures to see if they improve, and I'm sure you'll be hearing about it. 


  1. Re: #1 - Did you see that Harvard study that came out on that?

  2. One of the problems I identified with that book was that I had a short luteal phase -- 10/11 days instead of 14, which is normal. 10/11 days is often not enough for the fertilized egg to get to the uterus and implant, and by the time it does all the lining is gone. So. Not only were we aiming for the wrong time of the month, the egg didn't have a chance. I took B vitamins (not sure if that was a book recommendation or something I found elsewhere in teh internets). Eventually the egg hurried up or something, and the baby came, but you might want to check out Vitamin B6 for luteal phase stuff too.

  3. You can also get progesterone cream from your doc. Make sure it's the prescription stuff though, and not synthetic.

    I will hopefully be dropping pounds with you!

  4. Queen Bee - I didn't see the study! Do you have a link?

    Genie - thank you for the tip! A B-complex vitamin is on my list of "to-gets." I've been taking a B12 supplement and a folic acid supplement in addition to prenatals, but probably need to get my B6 on. :-)

    Libby - I'm making a note - prescription, not synthetic. We'll see what he says in June!

  5. Did my eyes make it over to your place yet??? Because they are definitely rolling around and must have come out of my head by now.
    Love you honey!

  6. i'm totally with you on the maniacal self-diagnoses. i do my internet research, convince myself i have testicular cancer, and then what do you know, i'm proven wrong.

    however, the last time this happened all my signs kept pointing towards one thing. all my research pointed to one specific problem and for over a year i just KNEW what my diagnosis was. i finally get the right test that confirmed my beliefs, and low and behold, i have endometriosis.

    when my dr told me the news, it was the biggest "ha! fuck you, world!" and "oh man, what now...?" i think i'll probably ever experience.

    right now, my main concern is avoiding the monthly suicidefest in my netherlands. i already did enough worrying about the babymaking part... only time will tell on that one.

    on a somewhat related note: this blog is like THEE most exciting real-life science project ever.

  7. Mom - as predicted! I could *sense* you rolling your eyes as you read this. ;-)

    TILTE - A friend of a friend who has endometriosis managed to get pregnant, although it admittedly took her a rather long time to do so. But the good news is it's definitely possible. And I must agree - this blog is a pretty fun experiment! Especially if this shit actually works.

  8. I am so glad someone is writing about this journey! I started reading the book this week and have already been to a doctor to test egg levels and progesterone levels. They say everything looks good. But I had a miscarriage in September and I've been charting since last July. I have a short luteal phase of 6-9 days and so I will be starting to take progesterone after I ovulate in a few days to see if that helps lengthen it so we can get preggo again and hopefully this one sticks. I've also been taking B6 and have been using the Clearblue Easy Monitor for two months so we know when I'm most fertile. Let's hope something works soon!

  9. Good luck, Heather! It sounds like progesterone is exactly what you need, so hopefully it works like a charm...

  10. I also wonder about my LP because I start spotting around 9 or 10 dpo but my progesterone levels have always been high. I've started taking Vitex too, but no change yet...