LH Surge and LH Defect
When the urge hits to procreate, the most prominent question on a woman's mind is "When will ovulation take place - when will I be most fertile?"
Perfect Picture of Conception
In a perfect world, peak fertility is understood to include the days just before you ovulate and the day of ovulation itself. Since the egg has a lifespan of 24 hours to be fertilized, conception has to happen during this small window of opportunity. The fertile period begins four or five days before you ovulate and lasts typically for one day after ovulation takes place. Sperm, provided they are healthy, can live up to five days in the cervical mucus during this period of your menstrual cycle. All of this considered - your fertile time would be seven days wherein you could conceive. However, as we said at the beginning, this would be a perfect scenario, requiring optimum conditions for sperm survival as well as sperm health. In order to increase the odds of becoming pregnant, knowing when you are at peak fertility can be very helpful.
Ovulation and the LH Surge
Ovulation is dependent up a salient surge of a specific hormone - luteinizing hormone or LH. The process of ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovarian follicle. After ovulation, the egg makes its way down the fallopian tube toward the uterus. It is on this journey that it will become fertilized, while it is still in the tube. Just before the release of the egg, a powerful surge of luteinizing hormone takes place that triggers ovulation. The LH surge will occur between 12 and 36 hours prior to the actual release of the egg. It happens quickly, so timing is critical.
One of the ways to determine the LH surge is with the use of an ovulation predictor kit (OPK). OPKs along with fertility microscopes are the two primary methods used by many women to determine ovulation. OPKs are urine tests that indicate the increase in LH that happens just before you ovulate. It's a good idea to use the OPK at the same time every day, no matter what time of day you choose. Since LH levels can change slightly throughout the day, by taking the reading at the same time you can compare one day to the next more accurately. Also, it is best not to measure LH within a couple of hours of drinking fluid as the fluid has a tendency to dilute the results of the LH test. Ovulation microscopes help in predicting fertility by indicating an increase in estrogen that occurs several days before ovulation. Used in conjunction with one another, they can be quite effective. If you see a positive indication on your OPK, act quickly - you'll have about three days to get the job done.
When Things Aren't Working Well
The LH surge is an important part of fertility planning and planning conception. But, what happens if there's a problem with the timing or strength of the LH surge? The luteal phase is the time between ovulation and menstruation in a woman's cycle. During this period, a fertilized egg will make its way to the uterus where it will implant and grow. It is usually about 14 days long, however, it can be anywhere from 10 to 17 days on average. When this phase is shorter than 10 days (some doctors say 12 days), it is called a luteal phase defect (LPD). Should conception occur in someone with a luteal phase defect, the result is an early miscarriage.
A pregnancy cannot be sustained in an LPD because the endometrium (uterine lining) breaks down too quickly, bringing on a miscarriage. A medical examination is necessary to determine the exact cause of an LPD; however, often low progesterone levels are at fault. It is possible to determine a luteal phase defect by taking a progesterone test seven days after ovulation to measure the deficiency. Once the cause is determined, then treatment can be given.
Fertility Charting to Help Conception
One way to determine if you have luteal phase defect is fertility charting. Although it may seem to be a hassle, it's a good way to determine your fertility and if there is a problem. By tracking a few fertility signs your body gives you, you can improve your chances of conception.
Here is how you chart your fertility:
· Take your basal body temperature
· Examine your cervical mucus
· Record when you begin your menstrual period
· Record when you have sexual intercourse.
Charting can put you more in touch with your body and, as it happens many couples using fertility charting have great success in conceiving. See the articles on this site for information about these various charting tools.
Planning conception revolves around ovulation and the timing of intercourse. Learn more here.