The luteal phase is the last stage of the woman’s menstrual cycle , which has a significant responsibility: maintaining the pregnancy . However, few women are aware of their role or how mental health is affected in this period.
The menstrual cycle consists of three phases: the follicular phase, the proliferative phase and the luteal phase . However, some divisions separate it into four parts, with the secret phase being the last.
Others prefer to join the lutea and the secretary. Regardless of the literature you find, the most important thing is to understand the functionality of this phase.
How does the menstrual cycle happen?
While menstruation lasts for only a few days and is usually the element most remembered by women when they think of the menstrual cycle, it lasts 28 to 30 days. The duration may vary from woman to woman.
This phase consists of the period between the first day of menstruation and ovulation. In it, as the name suggests, follicles are produced, which house the oocytes, female germ cells, in a state of maturation.
One of them develops more quickly, becoming responsible for the production of estrogen. Thus, the ovary has an oocyte developed at each menstrual cycle .
If there is sexual intercourse and the oocyte (popularly called an egg) is fertilized, pregnancy occurs. Otherwise, the oocyte will be eliminated with menstruation. This, in turn, happens when the upper layers of the uterine lining, called the endometrium, rupture.
This phase is also known as the ‘fertile period’, when women are more likely to become pregnant.
It happens after the end of menstruation and continues until the ovulation period. The uterus rebuilds the peeling tissue, taking advantage of the high amount of estrogen produced by the follicle. The endometrium then regains its thickness. Near the period of menstruation, however, he tunes again.
This cycle happens to facilitate fertilization . The fertilized egg can implant and grow in the uterus, as the walls of the uterine lining thin.
It lasts from 11 to 16 days, depending on the woman’s body, and begins when the follicle that contained the oocyte during ovulation turns into a corpus luteum. From then on, it starts to produce progesterone and estrogen. The peak of this production usually happens on the 14th day of the luteal phase .
This hormonal change is known as Premenstrual Tension (PMS), as a series of symptoms begins to appear in the days leading up to menstruation. Migraines , acne, swelling, nausea and tenderness in the breasts are the most common.
What is the role of the luteal phase?
Many women are well aware of premenstrual symptoms and show their disgust when they arrive. Although high levels of progesterone cause a hormonal mess, they are important for securing early pregnancy.
Women who have a smaller luteal phase, less than 11 days old, cannot produce the necessary amount of progesterone. Thus, they run the risk of not being able to get pregnant easily . In this case, the travel time of the embryo, leaving the tubes towards the uterus, is shortened and it cannot fix in time.
On the other hand, a long phase, with more than 16 days, can prevent menstruation from happening , because the excess of progesterone prevents the endometrium from being broken. Thus, the useful life of the corpus luteum is extended since there is no possibility of it being discarded.
Check out other functions of progesterone below:
- Prepares the uterus for the possible appearance of an embryo;
- Extends the endometrium so that it is filled with fluids and nutrients to feed the embryo;
- Thicken mucus in the cervix to prevent sperm and bacteria from entering the uterus;
- Increases body temperature, which may serve as an indication of the existence or absence of the ovulation process.
When fertilization does not occur, the corpus luteum breaks up in a process that can take 9 to 11 days after the end of ovulation. As progesterone and estrogen levels drop, menstruation occurs.
Luteal phase and mental health
The menstrual cycle is a complex process. Despite the woman’s organism having all the physiological functions to pass through it, except in some exceptional cases , this phase, in particular, is not always smooth and imperceptible.
As the symptoms are diverse and manifest differently in each woman, it is somewhat complicated to talk about a universal experience. However, with so much going on inside, it is not uncommon for women’s mental health to be negatively affected .
At this stage, the woman may feel oversensitive, irritated, uncomfortable, fatigued and even apathetic. Crying outbursts or outbursts of anger are common, especially if a woman is in a stressful period of life. Other symptoms, such as difficulty thinking and concentrating, can hinder the performance of daily tasks and cause frustration .
In addition, the presence of physical symptoms, such as cramps, muscle pain and weakness, tend to make everyday life more disgusting.
How to survive the luteal phase?
First, tracking your menstrual cycle using apps or a calendar is a good idea to prepare. Some women may have already had the experience of noticing abnormal behavior and associating it with PMS only afterwards, when the plug fell.
Another way to deal with symptoms is through medication. However, not all women can use them . Faced with contraindications, they may resort to alternative treatments to take care of mental health .
Deep breathing and relaxation techniques, such as meditation , writing feelings and focusing on an activity of interest are ways to relieve discomfort. Furthermore, sharing your experience can reduce the frustrations associated with this phase.
Therapy helps to develop techniques to deal with unpleasant symptoms, through emotional intelligence , and to take care of mental health on a daily basis . It is a way of providing serenity in a time of emotional complexity.