Luteal Phase Defect

The luteal phase of a woman’s cycle occurs after ovulation and lasts until menstruation begins. In a 28 day cycle, the luteal phase is supposed to be 12-15 days in length. This is the phase of the cycle when progesterone is high and the uterine lining becomes thick to prepare for implantation and pregnancy or the shedding of the endometrial lining through menstruation. When progesterone levels are low, it will cause the luteal phase to be short (10 days or shorter). This will cause an endometrial lining that is not thick enough for an embryo to implant, and decrease the likelihood of pregnancy while increasing miscarriage rates. There may also be impaired follicle development, along with impaired FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and or LH (luteinizing hormone) production.

Symptoms of LPD

· Recurrent miscarriage
· Bleeding in between cycles
· Low basal body temperature
· Short menstrual cycles

Acupuncture & LPD

Acupuncture can help to regulate the follicular and luteal phase of a woman’s cycle by working on follicular development and timely ovulation,  lengthening the folicular phase. Acupuncture can work to restore the endocrine balance, helping to produce more progesterone. This helps the body foster a thicker uterine lining to promote implantation and reduce the risk of miscarriage. Acupuncture also works to reduce stress. Stress can effect fertility by decreasing blood flow to the reproductive organs, thus inhibiting good follicle development. Stress also has a negative impact on the overall endocrine function, which can effect the HPO axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis). It can take 2-3 cycles of treatment to notice a change in the length of the follicular phase, increase BBT temperatures, and create longer cycles overall.

Research on Acupuncture & LPD

53 patients with Luteal phase defect (LPD) were treated with different Chinese medicinal herbs at different phases of menstrual cycle. The patients were treated for three menstrual cycles. There were significant improvement in the luteal phase of endometrium, and prolonged basal body temperature elevation in progestational stage with a tendency for normalization of the wave forms and its amplitude after the treatment. In the mid-progestational stage, the level of serum LH and PRL were reduced (P < 0.05) and that of serum progestin (P) rose significantly (P < 0.01), as compared with those before the treatment. The findings suggested that Chinese herbal medicines capable of replenishing the Kidney could regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and thus improve the luteal function. Among the 53 cases, 22 (41.5%) conceived but 68.18% of them required other measures to preserve the pregnancy.

Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Shaanxi
PMID: 1477503 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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