Luteal Phase Defect: Natural Treatment Options

Luteal Phase Defect: Natural Treatment Options

The third phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle is called the Luteal Phase, it is the time between ovulation and the start of a woman’s period. It is during this important time that fertilization and implantation occurs.

As you might imagine, any disruption in the luteal phase of the cycle can be cause for concern since it can affect fertility. Most experts agree that a luteal phase less than 12 days does not give the uterus sufficient time to establish a nourishing lining for a growing fetus and therefore will cause a miscarriage if fertilization has occurred.

Symptoms of Luteal Phase Defect

  • A short menstrual cycle
  • Low progesterone
  • Disrupted basal body temperatures after ovulation
  • Odd symptoms during luteal phase such as low back pain, bleeding and loose stools

Fertility charting can help to determine the length of your luteal phase and if you have low progesterone. Luteal phase defect is estimated to affect 3-4% of women who have ‘unexplained infertility’, up to 63% of women who repeatedly miscarry and 6-10% of women who are fertile.

There are several factors which can cause a luteal phase defect (LPD). The most common is a low progesterone level. Progesterone is an important hormone needed for preserving the uterine lining and pregnancy during the first trimester. In the event a woman’s progesterone production did not reach the optimal level during this important stage in her cycle, a LPD may occur.

Low Progesterone and Luteal Phase Defect

Progesterone is produced throughout the entire cycle with levels elevating directly after ovulation and staying elevated until menstruation begins. If progesterone levels do not elevate enough after ovulation or drop too soon before menstruation, this can cause a short luteal phase. Here are some of the most common culprits to low progesterone:

Poor Follicle Production
If the pituitary gland does not make enough FSH hormone during the first half of the menstrual cycle (the time between your last period and ovulation), then follicle production may be weak, which can cause a thin uterine lining and an early period. This of course will prohibit fertilization and implantation from taking place.

A Premature Drop in Progesterone
If progesterone levels drop too soon (usually within a few days of ovulation), then the body will automatically think that it is time to flush out the uterus and start all over again. Very short cycles (usually less than 24 days) is usually a sign of this type of luteal phase defect.

Low Lutenizing Hormone
Lutenizing Hormone (LH) increases prior to ovulation occurring (24hrs). It is this spike in LH which causes ovulation to occur. A lower than normal LH surge at ovulation can prevent ovulation from occurring and cause low progesterone levels as well.

Uterine Lining Failure
A fertilized egg needs a nourishing environment to grow into a fetus. This is the job of the uterus. But, if your uterine lining is not thick enough – or strong enough – it can’t sustain this new life and a miscarriage may occur. This too can be caused by low hormones or hormonal imbalance. Estrogen is the hormone which thickens the uterine lining in preparation for implantation and progesterone “ripens” the uterus preparing for implantation.

Abnormally Low Cholesterol Levels & Being Underweight
Another cause of LPD is abnormally low cholesterol levels which results in low to no progesterone production. All hormones, including progesterone, must have cholesterol in order to be manufactured by the body. Being underweight can also be a cause for LPD due to low cholesterol and body fat levels which can cause low hormonal levels across the board.

Solutions for Luteal Phase Defect

While a luteal phase defect can be very serious, prohibiting a pregnancy until it is fixed, the good news is that in most cases it can be helped by natural therapies.

Luteal Phase Defect and low progesterone levels can be affected with a variety of methods including herbs, diet, supplements and/or progesterone cream.


Make sure that any of the herbal and supplement suggestions mentioned below are made in conjunction with a diet rich in whole foods, specifically:

Vitamin C: A study in Fertility and Sterility showed that vitamin C improves hormone levels and increases fertility in some women with luteal phase defect. During the study, 25% of the women who received vitamin C had gotten pregnant within 6 months compared to the placebo group in which 11% were pregnant in the same time period. Foods rich in vitamin C are: Papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, strawberries and oranges.

Essential fatty acids: EFA’s are important for hormone production. Many women are low in EFA’s, specifically omega 3. Some foods rich in EFA’s are: Flaxseeds, walnuts, salmon, sardines, halibut, shrimp, snapper, scallops and chia seeds.

Green leafy vegetables: Green vegetables are rich in B vitamins which are necessary for proper hormonal balance.

Cholesterol from eggs, coconut oil and fat from organic and grass-fed animal products: Cholesterol is necessary for hormone production. Avoid eating a ‘low-fat’ diet and make sure to eat a diet that includes whole fat sourced from grass-fed animal products. Foods rich in clean cholesterol are: Grass-fed beef, raw milk from grass-fed cows or goats, whole milk yogurt and kefir, free-range/pastured eggs, butter from grass-fed milk (Kerry Gold is a common one), and Coconut oil.

All of these foods are necessary for proper hormone production in the body. Click here to learn more about eating a natural fertility diet…

Vitex (Chasteberry)

For those looking for a more natural way to boost their progesterone levels, taking a supplement of Vitex (otherwise known as Chasteberry) may be the answer. A small fruit tree grown in the Mediterranean, Vitex has been used for centuries to treat all sorts of female issues including infertility. Studies have shown this herb to be affective at lengthening the luteal phase.

While it does not contain any hormones itself, it does help the body to increase it’s own production of luteinizing hormone (promoting ovulation to occur) which in turns boosts progesterone levels during the luteal phase of the cycle.

Progesterone Cream

One of the most common treatments for lengthening a woman’s luteal phase is to use a progesterone cream. Found over the counter, natural progesterone cream should be used twice a day on the inner arm, inner thigh, or neck, after ovulation has occurred until the period begins. If the problem begins with low Lutenizing Hormone, then just adding progesterone may not work. Click here to learn more about using progesterone cream properly…

Vitamin B6

A lot of women have reported a lengthened luteal phase after supplementing with vitamin B6. This may have been caused by the hormonal balancing effect vitamin B6 has on the body. Vitamin B6 can be found in tuna, bananas, turkey, liver, salmon and many of the greens. Taking a vitamin B6 supplement is also another choice. Suggested usage is 50mg up to 100mg daily. Make sure to use vitamin B6 in conjunction with a B vitamin complex or multivitamin to avoid causing imbalances.


Recent studies have found that oxidative damage may be a cause of luteal phase defect. Women who had luteal phase defect and recurrent miscarriages were found to have significantly lower levels of antioxidants than healthy women. There are so many benefits of antioxidants on fertility, they should be a part of every couples fertility program. Learn more about antioxidants and fertility…


Luteal Phase Defect is serious since it will prevent pregnancy. Luckily, Luteal Phase Defect can often be easily remedied with the therapies listed above. You may also find it helpful to get your progesterone levels tested. This is going to help you determine if progesterone supplementation may be necessary. Fertility charting is also advised, as it is going to help you pin down the length of your luteal phase each cycle, so that you can see if the changes you have implemented to resolve LPD are working or not.

1. Weiss, R.F. (1988). Herbal Medicine. Beaconsfield Arcanum: Gothenburg, Sweden.
2. Trickey, R. (2003). Women’s Hormones & the Menstrual Cycle. Allen & Unwin.
3. Henmi, H., Endo, T., Kitajima, Y., Manase, K., Hata, H., & Kudo, R. (2003). Effects of ascorbic acid supplementation on serum progesterone levels in patients with a luteal phase defect. Fertility and Sterility, 80(2), 459-461.
4. Agarwal, A., Gupta, S., & Sharma, R. K. (2005). Role of oxidative stress in female reproduction. Reprod Biol Endocrinol, 3(28), 1-21.

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  1. I find that green veggies, esp. Dark Dark Green make my heart pound like crazy, my face goes numb, and I have to heave until its Gone! Does this happen to anybody else?

    • Hi Janey,

      I have never heard of this happening. Are you eating them raw? Do you have poor thyroid function? An allergy to certain types of leafy green vegetables?

  2. Ciao, First I just want to thank you for this website it has helped me a lot along my journey. I am 28 and had a miscarriage a year ago. Since then I have had the saliva test suggested through here. My estrogen was high and progesterone was really low (58.8). In the last year I have gone from no period, to having one every two weeks to the last 4 months having a cycle that is 18-21 days long. Last 3 months I have been on vitex and tried progesterone cream, which cleared up my skin (cystic acne), but I am not consistent with it because of the confusion with such a short period. Q: When do I take the progesterone cream? Can I add maca into the mix or is that too much? Any other suggestions?

    • Dear Christine,

      You have seen wonderful changes in your menstrual cycle. This is great! Consider each tip mentioned in this article in addition to the supplements being used. Vitex is suggested at a dose of 900-1000mg per day each day of the menstrual cycle without taking a break and natural progesterone cream use should begin directly after ovulation until menstruation begins at this time its use is stopped until after ovulation the following menstrual cycle. To learn more about the use of natural progesterone cream, visit our Progesterone Fertility Guide.

      Fertilica Maca can be taken with Fertilica Vitex and Fertilica Natural Progesterone Cream. Learn more about Maca here…

  3. I have had 4 miscarriages and I am trying everything I can to get pregnant but nothing seems to be working. I am 45 years old and I have been told my age is a big factor and I do not have viable eggs which is causing the difficulty in conceiving. If you have any other suggestions it would be great appreciated. All I want is the opportunity to have one child with my husband. My menses can range anywhere from 25 to 28 days. I have had various tests done and I am fine and nowhere close to menopause. Can you help!!
    Thanks, Barb

    • Dear Barb,

      Consider reviewing our guide for Preparing for Conception Over 40. This will share what we feel are the most important natural steps to take to prepare yourself for conception, pregnancy and to sustain healthy fertility.

      Consider also working one on one with our fertility herbalist who can lay out an entire natural fertility program for you based on your specific fertility health needs. This if offered through a Fertility Consultation.

    • Dear Barb,
      Wishing you many blessings. I hope you are able to have a child on your own. I’m 44 and same thing no problems with my reproductive system. Went to see Specialist for IVF and it was strongly suggested I use donor eggs as the success rate of using my own was low (even though I have lots of eggs)! Science is not perfected on this process. So frustrating, but trying every natural option possible including acupuncture. I hope to see a post on this website someday that you have your baby! 🙂 There aren’t very many of us trying at this age it seems…

  4. Hello, I am 34 and had a D&C October 2013.My surgery was because I had a hole in the sack which the liquid leak out. I have been tracking my cycles to detect ovulation. My cycle is only four days which reads one of the defects of an un normal luteal. I just use the luteal phase calculator and it said it’s 19 days long. I would like to know if this would be a problem for me to get pregnant because it has to be some kind of thickness with the endometrium lining in the uterus and if so could this be the reason for the D&C?
    Thanks, Nicole

    • Dear Nicole,

      I am very sorry for your loss!

      Do you mean your period only lasts for 4 days? If so, this is not considered abnormal. Also, a 19 day luteal phase is considered an adequate length for the endometrial lining to build for healthy implantation of an embryo. Implantation occurred for you, it’s just that for some reason there was a hole in the gestational sac, the large fluid-filled cavity that surrounds the embryo/fetus. I am not certain anyone has proven why this happens sadly.

      Dilation & Curretage, D&C, is a performed when the body miscarries and is unable to properly or completely expel the pregnancy on its own.

      As you continue to prepare for pregnancy, consider the 5 Steps To Decreasing the Chance of Recurrent Miscarriages.

      All my best!

  5. I am 35 years old and have been TTC for 18 months. I had a chemical pregnancy about 9 months ago. I have had irregular spotting during my luteal phase since going off the pill 2 years ago (was on pill for 1 year). I have had ultrasounds and tests done and have been told that everything looks fine and that the spotting will not effect my fertility. My cycles currently range from 30-35 days. I use an OPK and ovulate Day 14-17 each month. However, I always begin to spot by 10-12 DPO until my period finally begins. So, I typically spot for a full week before my true period begins. I feel like this irregular spotting is associated with my infertility. Could natural progesterone cream help?

  6. Good morning,
    My cycle is on and off, which mean 26-29 days, but I don’t know if am ovulating. Please help me. What can I take because I’ve been trying for 4 years plus.

    • Dear Ruth,

      It is important to know that many woman have menstrual cycles that vary in length a bit from cycle to cycle. The usual range of a healthy cycle is between 21 and 35 days, but as long as there is a pattern, regularity, a healthy body and the follicular phase is between 12-14 days there should be no cause for concern.

      There are a variety of ways to help a woman learn when she ovulates each menstrual cycle from Cycle Beads, to ovulation predictor kits (OPKs), basal body temperature charting (BBT Charting), tracking cervical mucus changes and many applications or “Apps” for smartphones. The Guide to Fertility Charting and article Chart Your Fertility with a Fertility App on Your Mobile Device may be helpful.

      I hope you are able to find a method for tracking ovulation that is easy and convenient for you.

  7. I have been trying to conceive for 19 months following an ectopic pregnancy in Sep. 2013 resulting in the loss of one of my tubes. My periods are generally regular with cycle around 28 days. Will occasionally have a month that it might be off by a day or 2. I am pretty well aware when I ovulate and use an OPK just to verify and it’s typically happening around 21 days. I have not had official testing done for progesterone levels, etc., but had a HSG done to make sure the other side was fine (it is). I’m thinking of trying the Vitex. Is it safe to use a combination of these, i.e. B6 and Vitex, or even throwing in some fish oil as well?

    • Dear Andrea,

      I am sorry for your loss and what you have been through!

      Fertilica Vitex can be combined with vitamin B6 and a fish oil or omega supplement. Consider learning more about Fertilica Cod Liver Oil which we know to be a quality source of omega-3s supportive of fertility health and pregnancy.

  8. Dear Elizabeth,
    Thank you for this article. It’s very informative and easy to understand.
    I am 33 and I have irregular cycles although it seems to be getting better now mostly around 28 days. I ovulate on day 13/14, but the week before my period I usually start spotting & cramping- then I get my period. Is this considered as LPD?
    I’ve been using clear blu digital-dual hormone to keep testing even after ovulation and since cd 18 I’ve had a flashing face (high estrogen) until now and I’m on day 22. Is it normal?
    Also I believe I have high androgens in my body and am about to start taking DIM. Is it going to be safe taking these throughout my cycle and still keep trying for a baby?

    • Hello Helen!

      I am thankful this article has been so helpful.

      With a 28-day cycle and ovulation occurring on cycle day 13 or 14, the luteal phase would be 14 or 15 days long which is not indicative of luteal phase defect.

      Abnormal uterine bleeding can be scary and tricky. There are a variety of reasons why a woman might bleed in the absence of menstruation. Click that link to learn more.

      What I have learned about the Clearblu Digital Ovulation Test, the smiley face appears when LH surges and on the day leading up to ovulation. Clearblue says this day and the following day are your 2 best days to get pregnant.

      DIM can be taken preconception and while trying to conceive. It is to be discontinued upon first determination of pregnancy.

      I hope this information is also helpful!

  9. Good Morning Elizabeth!
    My cycles have been 27 and 28 days for more than 6 months. However, I ovulate the last few months on day 11. Also, according to the monitor I’m ovulating 2 days in a row (day 11 & day 12) is that normal? Does that qualify me for the Luteal Phase Defect?

    • Dear Sam,

      Ovulation on cycle day 11 or 12 means that your luteal phase is either 16 or 17 days long respectively which does not indicate luteal phase defect. Most experts feel that a luteal phase shorter than 12 days is when one may be experiencing too short of a luteal phase. A 27-28 day menstrual cycle is what most consider “normal”.

      Women typically only ovulate one day each cycle. Might one of these days be a peak day? I can’t really know without knowing which monitor is being used. Consider reading through any instructions or online forums for frequently asked questions.

  10. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for 3 years. I am 36 years old and we have 3 kids (7,5, and 3). I never had any trouble getting pregnant before. I eat healthily, and exercise every day. I’ve been taking prenatal vitamins for over a year. I charted this month and I got a positive opk on day 20 of my cycle, had a temperature spike on day 24 (so I ovulated on day 23) then I got my period on day 31. Is this luteal phase short? If I take progesterone, do I begin the day after I ovulate? and then when do i stop?

    • Dear Amanda,

      A seven day luteal phase by many standards is considered short. Regarding progesterone cream use, it is best to first determine through testing that progesterone levels are in fact low. Our Progesterone Fertility Guide will share more about testing and the proper use of natural progesterone cream.

      While natural progesterone cream may offer support, as you have read here there are a variety of rather easy ways to impact luteal phase length through changing one’s diet and lifestyle, and supplementing with nutrients and herbs that are often more of a “go-to” that progesterone cream (for me).

      I hope to have been helpful!

  11. Dear Hethir,
    Thank you for your research and sharing. I am a Certified Creighton Model Fertility Care Practitioner for 35 years and now a Nutrition Consultant too. This was a very simple beautiful explanation of some basic ideas that could help many women and couples overcome this very difficult condition. I do not know how I got on your mailing list. I would love to know where your center is? I hope you will contact me. For eg., your advice about B6 and taking it with a B Complex is very excellent. I would like to tell people about you.
    Yours Truly,
    Susan McConneloug

    • Dear Susan,

      Thank you for your praise! We are an internet-based business at this time without a physical location/center to visit. We work with our customers and clients via phone, email, Live Chat and email Fertility Consultations. We also offer an Affiliate Program for practitioners interested in affiliating with the Natural Fertility Company.

      I have also shared your message with Hethir.
      All my best!

  12. So after the reading the article I was just curious when I should take vitamin B6 for a short luteal phase… before ovulation or all month long? Thank you!

    • Dear Claire,

      Vitamin B6 is best taken in combination with a multivitamin (whole food multis are best) and daily through the entire menstrual cycle.

  13. I have a moderate case of endometriosis and have heard mixed reviews regarding vitex and its possibility of worsening the symptoms. I have a 24 day average cycle, have gone through clomid, femera, brevel, and have used ovidrel most months in addition to the other meds. I have had an hsg so there is no scar tissue or physical blockages, but feel like there is something more to the lack of fertility. Can you tell me if vitex would be safe to try? I regularly take a pre-natal multivitamin, fish oil, D, magnesium and zinc. Thanks!

    • Dear Laura,

      It is important for women with endometriosis to work to nourish the endocrine system which is the system that coordinates the communication or our hormones.

      Fertilica Vitex supports hormone balance and has been found to normalize and improve progesterone levels which are often low with estrogen-dominant fertility conditions. Vitex is actually used in Germany by gynecologists to treat mild endometriosis and reduce the advancement of mild endometriosis.

      I hope this is helpful!

  14. Hi – I’ve averaged an 11-day luteal phase (low end of normal) and this past cycle it went down to only 10 days. I am taking a vitex tincture but I have also been looking in to B6 as a part of a B complex supplement to help with this. I know that too much B6 can lead to some rather undesirable side effects. My question is this – if taking a prenatal that includes all the B vitamins such as B6, but not in the amounts you mention above, would you think it a good idea to add on a B-complex supplement as well?

    • Dear Stacey,

      A B-complex supplement can be taken with a whole food prenatal multivitamin to meet the suggested daily dose. If interested in taking just vitamin B6, it alone is best taken with either a B-complex supplement or a whole food multivitamin or wholefood prenatal multivitamin.

  15. Hello,
    Thank you so much for all the great information on this site – it is really informative and comforting! I have been charting for 6 months and prior to that I have always kept an eye on my dates of menstruation – which were always 28 days. Since ttc I have had 3 early periods at 24-25 days even though I only ovulated on day 17 which I know by using opk and and temp charting. On months where we did not have sex within the short fertile window my LP was 14 days and the few months we did have sex within the window and possible fertilization of an egg my LP was 6 to 7 days with my period arriving a week early! Do you have any recommendations for this or should I go see someone? I am 32.

    • Dear Karen,

      We have learned that Luteal Phase Defect is is one of the easiest fertility issues to reverse with simple, natural diet changes – including herbs, nutritional supplements – and natural therapies.

      It is entirely up to you whether you visit your healthcare provider or not. One reason to do so would be that he can help you determine if your progesterone levels are low and a possible contributor to your short luteal phase. Knowing this can help you decide if natural progesterone cream is something for you to try.

      I hope the information in this article is helpful as decide the best course of action for your needs! If you would like help in deciding, we offer Natural Fertility Consultations. Learn more about a Fertility Consultation here…

      All my best!

  16. I’m 30 and have been ttc for 6 months since getting my mirena IUD removed. Since getting it removed and beginning to track my cycles I have noticed that my cycle is about 25 days, LP is 13 days, but spotting begins around 9-10 DPO. I am concerned that I have so many days of spotting before beginning my cycle. I haven’t been charting (starting now), just using OPKs. Last month I used the clear blue easy advanced and I got a smiley for the day I was ovulating, but it did not give a flashy smile to indicate a rise in estrogen. Is this a short LP problem?
    I have begun taking vitex, but I wasn’t sure if I should start researching the other recommendations you have or if this is another problem.

    • Dear Erin,

      According to the Clear Blue Easy website about the Advanced Digital Ovulation Test, “a flashing smiley face for the “high” fertility days leading up to ovulation, and a solid smiley face for your “peak” fertility days on the day your LH surge is detected and the day after.” It is my estimation, although it would be best to reach out to them, that given you saw the solid smiley face there was a LH surge indicating ovulation may happen.

      The Frequently Asked Questions there also share that “… If the hormone changes naturally occur close together it is possible that High Fertility may not be displayed and that the Holder will change from Low Fertility to Peak Fertility without displaying High Fertility…”

      It is generally agreed upon that a luteal phase 12-14 days in length is healthy. I am not certain there is cause for concern. Charting your basal body temperature, BBT, should offer more in-depth information on your entire cycle and I hope will be reassuring.

      I hope this is helpful!

  17. Hoping you can help me. We have been trying for almost 2 years. We are on the older side and I only have 1 ovary so we are fighting a uphill battle. We had been doing Fertility Treatments but couldn’t this month due to a cyst so we went at it on our own. I had a PEAK read on my Ovulation Predictor on Day 12 and 13. I started Progesterone Cream on Day 15. On Day 20 I started seeing speckles brown spots on the tissue paper after I went to the bathroom. Same on Day 21. On Day 22 I saw quite a bit of pink in the morning and then again speckled brown throughout the day. On Day 23, there was an increase in the brown in the morning and then again speckled. Could this be considered a LPD?

    • Dear Chelsea,

      Spotting alone does not for me instantly signify Luteal Phase Defect. Do you know the length of your luteal phase? If not, have you considered charting your basal body temperature to determine luteal phase length? Are cycle days 20-23 the days during which you normally menstruate? Have you confirmed you have low progesterone levels through testing to know that you in fact need to supplement with natural progesterone cream?

      Often spotting when using natural progesterone cream is a result of using a stronger dose than needed, or applying it on the wrong days of the cycle. Spotting can also be one result of estrogen receptor sites ‘waking up’ (being stimulated) – progesterone enhancing the action of estrogen for a short period of time – if you have just started supplementing natural progesterone cream after experiencing progesterone deficiency.

      Could this spotting a cycle change be a result of stopping the fertility treatments you were on? It may be worth asking your healthcare provider about this too.

      I hope this is helpful!

  18. I’m 30 and currently pregnant with our third child. Our first two I had no problems conceiving and got pregnant during my first cycle. With our third I was told I had LPD after several months of not being able to conceive. I finally conceived with clomid, estrace, and progesterone. Is there a chance after this baby my body will “reset” and I will go back to normal cycles or will I have LPD from now on?

    • Hello Ashley!

      Congratulations! How are you feeling?

      There is really know way of me knowing the answer to your question. Such extreme hormone shifts happen during pregnancy and after for a variety and reasons, that I am not sure even your healthcare provider will be able to know this for you.

      The great part about the luteal phase is that it may be able to be easily supported by natural therapies as you have read in this article.

      On behalf of our team, we wish for you a happy and healthy pregnancy, birth and baby!

  19. Hello. I have been tracking my last 2 cycles while TTC. I finished birth control pill in September and I have been trying to conceive October and November. So far, unsuccessful. I have noticed since tracking, my luteal phase was only 8 days one cycle and 9 days the other cycle. Is that too short to conceive? If so, how can I prevent this?

    • Hello Amanda!

      Experts are in agreement that a luteal phase shorter than 12 days is too short. Too few days after ovulation does not give the uterus sufficient time to build a nourishing lining supportive of implantation and a growing fetus. Miscarriage may happen as a result of a short luteal phase.

      Take time to reread the Natural Solutions section in this article for tips and guidance on what you might try.

      Best wishes to you!