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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Jun;99(6):E1007-14. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-3534. Epub 2014 Feb 27.

Luteal phase deficiency in regularly menstruating women: prevalence and overlap in identification based on clinical and biochemical diagnostic criteria.

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Division of Intramural Population Health Research (K.C.S., S.L.M., K.A.K., L.A.S., N.J.P., K.A.A., P.M., E.F.S.) and Program of Reproductive and Adult Endocrinology (K.A.K.), Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland 20852; Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology (A.O.H.), University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84132; Department of Family and Preventative Medicine (A.O.H., J.B.S.), University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84106; and Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (J.W.-W.), State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York 14209.



Although adequate luteal hormone production is essential for establishing pregnancy, luteal phase deficiency (LPD) is poorly characterized among eumenorrheic women.


We assessed the prevalence and overlap of two established LPD diagnostic criteria: short luteal phase duration less than10 days (clinical LPD) and suboptimal luteal progesterone of 5 ng/mL or less (biochemical LPD) and their relationship with reproductive hormone concentrations.


We conducted a prospective study in western New York (2005-2007) following 259 women, aged 18-44 years, for up to two menstrual cycles.


Among ovulatory cycles with recorded cycle lengths (n = 463), there were 41 cycles (8.9%) with clinical LPD, 39 cycles (8.4%) with biochemical LPD, and 20 cycles (4.3%) meeting both criteria. Recurrent clinical and biochemical LPD was observed in eight (3.4%) and five (2.1%) women, respectively. Clinical and biochemical LPD were each associated with lower follicular estradiol (both P ≤ .001) and luteal estradiol (P = .03 and P = .02, respectively) after adjusting for age, race, and percentage body fat. Clinical, but not biochemical, LPD was associated with lower LH and FSH across all phases of the cycle (P ≤ .001).


Clinical and biochemical LPD were evident among regularly menstruating women. Estradiol was lower in LPD cycles under either criterion, but LH and FSH were lower only in association with shortened luteal phase (ie, clinical LPD), indicating that clinical and biochemical LPD may reflect different underlying mechanisms. Identifying ovulation in combination with a well-timed luteal progesterone measurement may serve as a cost-effective and specific tool for LPD assessment by clinicians and researchers.

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