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"I'm late with a BFN." Some (hopefully helpful) information about the luteal phase!

Posted by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 6:30 PM
  • 15 Replies
6 moms liked this

I often see women saying they are so many days late and are still getting BFNs.  Not always, but many times these frustrations are coming from women who do not chart their cycles.  This is totally fine, by the way, if you don't want to chart your cycle!  I just wanted to explain a little about how your luteal phase (LP) works to show why sometimes your period might NOT actually be late and you are just testing too soon.

1)  You luteal phase (LP) is the length of time from ovulation to when your period starts.  It is generally a two-week period, but every woman has a different length for her LP.  The average is 12-14 days.  Some women have shorter LPs (which can hinder your ability to get pregnant if it is less than 10 days) and some have longer LPs that are more than 14 days.  

2)  Even if you have irregular periods, your LP should remain constant.  You can have a 28-day cycle with a 14-day LP and ovulate on cycle day 14.  Or... you can have a 28-day cycle with a 12-day LP and ovulate on CD16.  Obviously, if you assumed that you were going to ovulate on CD14 (as many of those prediction calendars like to force) and stopped having sex then, you could miss your actual window of opportunity, which was on CD16!  This is why it is good to know how long your LP actually is and when you are ovulating.

3)  Sometimes ovulation gets delayed.  There are a variety of things that can happen that can cause your body to gear up for ovulation (you might even get fertile cervical mucus and a positive OPK!) but then for whatever reason, it decides not to release the egg.  You might have been sick or some sort of stressful thing happened and your body decided to hold off on releasing the egg.  When that happens, your body might try again later in your cycle (and you might see fertile cervical mucus and/or an LH surge on a OPK later in your cycle).  If your body tries later and is successful, that means your LP (which remains the SAME even though you ovulated late) starts counting down.  So, if you are normally a 28-day cycle with a 12-day LP... and it is now CD22 and your body is just now ovulating, that does not mean your period is still due in 6 days.  Your period now gets pushed back and your period is due in 12 days, the length of your LP.  See what I mean?  DELAYED OVULATION = DELAYED PERIOD.  

4)  If ovulation DOES get delayed, sometimes your body will try again later but fail to release the egg.  This is called an anovulatory cycle.  Because your body is trying more than once, anovulatory cycles tend to be long... this can make you feel like your period is REALLY late when in fact your body just never ovulated and is not quite sure what it is doing.  It might be 38 days later before you see a period.  It's hard to say!  If you do chart your temperatures, you will be able to see that you have not ovulated, so you will know when you are experiencing an AO (rather than agonizing over a later period and taking 20 HPTs, wondering what is going on!).

5)  As I said before, your body can gear up for ovulation and not actually DO it.  This is why relying JUST on an ovulation prediction test is risky.  Fertile cervical mucus and OPKs are seconday signs for detecting when ovulation will occur, but ONLY temping will tell you it happened!  

Anyway, I just wanted to explain those details in case anyone is in that agonizing position of having a late period and seeing BFNs and not knowing what the heck is going on.  These are some possibilities.  Some women do take a little longer to build up enough hCG to actually show a positive on a pregnancy test, too.  But, if you chart your cycles, you will KNOW if pregnancy is a possibility, because you will see ovulation (via your thermal shift) and your temperatures will remain high for 18DPO or longer.  Then that would be a good time to contact your doctor as it is likely that you are pregnant, even if your test is not showing it.

If you are interested in starting to chart your cycles so you can learn more about your LP and how to detect ovulation, I highly recommend this book (Taking Charge of Your Fertility).  It is $14 on Amazon.com and it is an amazing resource!  Good luck and baby dust to you all! :)

by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 6:30 PM
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Replies (1-10):
PoodleMum
by Silver Member on Nov. 26, 2011 at 7:19 PM

Great information :)  I'm "late" for AF right now, but it's highly likely I Oed a week late.  So I'm not getting too excited yet, but it still feels good lol

PoodleMum
by Silver Member on Nov. 26, 2011 at 7:21 PM

Oh and when I was charting before DD, my LP actually varied from 12-15 days :/

-JustMyOpinion-
by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 7:25 PM
1 mom liked this

Yeah, it is constant for MOST women, but there are always exceptions to any rule... you know?  :)

I hope you get your BFP this month!  Good luck with your late status! :)

Quoting PoodleMum:

Oh and when I was charting before DD, my LP actually varied from 12-15 days :/


-JustMyOpinion-
by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 7:43 PM
1 mom liked this

Just to add... if you do end up charting your cycles and you find that you have an abnormally short LP (less than 10 days), definitely talk to your OB/Gyn about what you can do to lengthen your LP!  A short LP can definitely hinder your ability to get pregnant.  This is one of the perks to charting, too... it helps you identify issues that you might not otherwise be aware of!

xploziv1
by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 7:48 PM
1 mom liked this

I love TCOYF.  I've been charting for five years (up until now for TTA), and I've never had a scare.  I go through periods where I just casually chart (observe when I have fertile CM but don't mark it down) because my cycles are pretty much like clockwork, and then I freak out when I forget where I am in my cycle, or my period does something strange one month.  But when I am charting properly (CM, cervix position and temps), I know exactly what is going on, and I never have to worry about anything.

I call this book my "fertility bible".  It is such an easy to understand book, and when I first got it I couldn't stop reading it.  I had a good understanding of how menstrual cycles worked at that point anyway, but the science behind it was extremely fascinating to me.

And now that we are TTC and I am charting properly again, although we aren't too worried if/when we get pregnant, I've had the joy of reading the section of the book that I've always avoided up until now ;-).

-JustMyOpinion-
by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 8:38 PM

LOL!  I have totally called it the same thing... my fertility bible, my TTC bible, etc.

I honestly want to start teaching my daughter about this stuff when she is a teenager.  I don't want her to be in the dark for as long as I was!

Quoting xploziv1:

I love TCOYF.  I've been charting for five years (up until now for TTA), and I've never had a scare.  I go through periods where I just casually chart (observe when I have fertile CM but don't mark it down) because my cycles are pretty much like clockwork, and then I freak out when I forget where I am in my cycle, or my period does something strange one month.  But when I am charting properly (CM, cervix position and temps), I know exactly what is going on, and I never have to worry about anything.

I call this book my "fertility bible".  It is such an easy to understand book, and when I first got it I couldn't stop reading it.  I had a good understanding of how menstrual cycles worked at that point anyway, but the science behind it was extremely fascinating to me.

And now that we are TTC and I am charting properly again, although we aren't too worried if/when we get pregnant, I've had the joy of reading the section of the book that I've always avoided up until now ;-).


Jesskratzer
by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 8:55 PM
I agree with you jmo...my mother had 8 children and its funny cause I am teaching her some things...my parents never had to chart or anything so she finds what I am going through quite amazing...i dont(if I have a girl) to think that it is "easy" for everyone...so she would understand her body and not have to stumble through it like I have...


Quoting -JustMyOpinion-:

LOL!  I have totally called it the same thing... my fertility bible, my TTC bible, etc.

I honestly want to start teaching my daughter about this stuff when she is a teenager.  I don't want her to be in the dark for as long as I was!

Quoting xploziv1:

I love TCOYF.  I've been charting for five years (up until now for TTA), and I've never had a scare.  I go through periods where I just casually chart (observe when I have fertile CM but don't mark it down) because my cycles are pretty much like clockwork, and then I freak out when I forget where I am in my cycle, or my period does something strange one month.  But when I am charting properly (CM, cervix position and temps), I know exactly what is going on, and I never have to worry about anything.

I call this book my "fertility bible".  It is such an easy to understand book, and when I first got it I couldn't stop reading it.  I had a good understanding of how menstrual cycles worked at that point anyway, but the science behind it was extremely fascinating to me.

And now that we are TTC and I am charting properly again, although we aren't too worried if/when we get pregnant, I've had the joy of reading the section of the book that I've always avoided up until now ;-).



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-JustMyOpinion-
by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 9:07 PM

I totally know what you mean!  My mom was actually a labor & delivery nurse for over 20 years and an OB/Gyn nurse for another (almost) 10 years... and I was telling her about some of this stuff and she had NO idea what I was talking about!  I was shocked!  I cannot believe that a nurse IN that field would not have known this stuff.  She said that the doctors could tell where a patient was in their cycle based on what the cervix was doing, but that she didn't know much about that!  I was floored!

I want my daughter to be in-the-know about her body!  I think this could help a lot of teen girls prevent unwanted pregnancies, too.

Quoting Jesskratzer:

I agree with you jmo...my mother had 8 children and its funny cause I am teaching her some things...my parents never had to chart or anything so she finds what I am going through quite amazing...i dont(if I have a girl) to think that it is "easy" for everyone...so she would understand her body and not have to stumble through it like I have...


Quoting -JustMyOpinion-:

LOL!  I have totally called it the same thing... my fertility bible, my TTC bible, etc.

I honestly want to start teaching my daughter about this stuff when she is a teenager.  I don't want her to be in the dark for as long as I was!

Quoting xploziv1:

I love TCOYF.  I've been charting for five years (up until now for TTA), and I've never had a scare.  I go through periods where I just casually chart (observe when I have fertile CM but don't mark it down) because my cycles are pretty much like clockwork, and then I freak out when I forget where I am in my cycle, or my period does something strange one month.  But when I am charting properly (CM, cervix position and temps), I know exactly what is going on, and I never have to worry about anything.

I call this book my "fertility bible".  It is such an easy to understand book, and when I first got it I couldn't stop reading it.  I had a good understanding of how menstrual cycles worked at that point anyway, but the science behind it was extremely fascinating to me.

And now that we are TTC and I am charting properly again, although we aren't too worried if/when we get pregnant, I've had the joy of reading the section of the book that I've always avoided up until now ;-).




Jesskratzer
by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 9:18 PM
Oh definately. If they completely understood(even if it was not for ttc) they would know when NOT to to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. I by no means think it is taboo for our "youth" to understand thier bodies. You cannot just tell them dont have sex...i know when I was younger that some went out and did it just because they were told not to...


Quoting -JustMyOpinion-:

I totally know what you mean!  My mom was actually a labor & delivery nurse for over 20 years and an OB/Gyn nurse for another (almost) 10 years... and I was telling her about some of this stuff and she had NO idea what I was talking about!  I was shocked!  I cannot believe that a nurse IN that field would not have known this stuff.  She said that the doctors could tell where a patient was in their cycle based on what the cervix was doing, but that she didn't know much about that!  I was floored!

I want my daughter to be in-the-know about her body!  I think this could help a lot of teen girls prevent unwanted pregnancies, too.

Quoting Jesskratzer:

I agree with you jmo...my mother had 8 children and its funny cause I am teaching her some things...my parents never had to chart or anything so she finds what I am going through quite amazing...i dont(if I have a girl) to think that it is "easy" for everyone...so she would understand her body and not have to stumble through it like I have...





Quoting -JustMyOpinion-:

LOL!  I have totally called it the same thing... my fertility bible, my TTC bible, etc.

I honestly want to start teaching my daughter about this stuff when she is a teenager.  I don't want her to be in the dark for as long as I was!

Quoting xploziv1:

I love TCOYF.  I've been charting for five years (up until now for TTA), and I've never had a scare.  I go through periods where I just casually chart (observe when I have fertile CM but don't mark it down) because my cycles are pretty much like clockwork, and then I freak out when I forget where I am in my cycle, or my period does something strange one month.  But when I am charting properly (CM, cervix position and temps), I know exactly what is going on, and I never have to worry about anything.

I call this book my "fertility bible".  It is such an easy to understand book, and when I first got it I couldn't stop reading it.  I had a good understanding of how menstrual cycles worked at that point anyway, but the science behind it was extremely fascinating to me.

And now that we are TTC and I am charting properly again, although we aren't too worried if/when we get pregnant, I've had the joy of reading the section of the book that I've always avoided up until now ;-).






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ld39503
by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 9:27 PM
1 mom liked this
This is great & it really frustrates me that more women aren't educated enough on their own bodies! Now that I am educated, anytime a girl friend or co woker is like I'm late! I always jump right in & say how do you know that? When did you ovulate? How long is your LP?

LMAO! They usually just stare at me like I have 5 heads or something. Then I get into this heated passionate lecture about how crucial & empowering it is to know your body & what all just your waking temp can tell you! Its a good feeling to be able to educate other women, but at the same time it just burns me up how blind & mis guided most women are!
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