What Is an LPD?

What is a luteal phase defect?
profile picture of John Rinehart, MD, PhD, Reproductive Medicine Institute, Chicago
ByJohn Rinehart, MD, PhD, Reproductive Medicine Institute, Chicago
Fertility Specialist
Mar 2017
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A luteal phase defect (LPD as it’s sometimes known) is another way of saying a woman’s menstrual cycle is out of whack. The LPD usually occurs if your body fails to produce enough progesterone, which in turn means the endometrial lining of your uterus won’t thicken or develop.

The luteal phase itself refers to the time between  ovulation and the start of your next menstrual cycle. The condition affects about 3 to 4 percent of women with  infertility and up to 5 percent of women who suffer from multiple miscarriages, and it can be found in up to 30 percent of otherwise healthy women who are menstruating.

Doctors used to diagnose LPD by performing two endometrial biopsies, done two months apart, then looking at the cells to see if there were significant variations. But because this is an often-painful procedure that few women want to do once, let alone twice, it’s not used very much anymore. Plus, even with a highly trained technician, you’re likely to get different opinions in whether or not the endometrial cells are developing as they should, based on the test results. Instead, most fertility doctors will use tests that measure levels of progesterone in the blood to better determine whether there’s some trouble going on with your menstrual cycle. Treatment usually involves taking some form of progesterone supplementation and/or a follicle-development drug like Clomid.

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