Jenna and John were nearly ready to see a fertility specialist. Both, over age 35, had been trying for two years to conceive a child without any luck. They had seen a doctor, and they knew that they both were “functioning,” but try as they might, they never seemed to manage to get the timing right.
Although men and women more or less are ready to have sex anywhere, anytime, there are only 1 to 5 days each month that a woman is capable of conceiving a child. The ovaries release one (or occasionally two to six) eggs only in the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle. The egg lives just for 24 hours, and there has to be sperm already on its way through the cervix to meet it, or it will not be fertilized, and the thickened lining of the uterus will just be sloughed off in menstruation.
If the egg is fertilized, then it floats in the fluids of the uterus for a day or two before it is implanted in the lining of the uterus, and pregnancy can begin. But in some women, the uterus doesn’t get the message that a fertilized egg is on the way. These women suffer luteal phase defects.
What is a luteal phase defect? The luteal phase is either the stage of menstruation when the thickened lining of the uterus dies so it can be discharged into menstrual, or it is the very beginning of pregnancy when the uterus continues to grow to host the fertilized egg so it can become an embryo.
If a woman has a short luteal phase, she has another period despite the fact the egg is fertilized, and the pregnancy is terminated. Lengthening the luteal phase increases the chances the baby-to-be will get established in the womb.
When does vitamin B6 help resolve a luteal phase defect? In some women, high-dose vitamin B6 has helped to lengthen the luteal phase to allow pregnancy. This is most helpful in women who go off the Pill and decide to try to get pregnant.
Taking oral contraceptives can deplete vitamin B6 and lead to a “fast” second half of menstruation, causing the uterus to start sloughing off its lining before the egg is even implanted. Taking 250 milligrams of vitamin B6 every day for at least one month helps many women get pregnant.
Most women who know they have luteal phase defects (by measuring their hormone levels with a system like the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor and then counting the days to their next period) take both progesterone and vitamin B6. Taking less than 250 milligrams of B6 isn’t likely to do any good, whereas doctor-ordered progesterone, taken at exactly the right time, may work with no B6 at all. However, if you just aren’t sure you are getting the right dose of progesterone at the right time; B6 may make the difference in your efforts trying to conceive.