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The corpus luteum is formed in a woman's body when an egg is released from the ovary. The main task of the corpus luteum is to produce progesterone. It also has a great influence on the implantation of a fertilized egg and on the course and maintenance of pregnancy. How is the corpus luteum built and what are its functions? What is the treatment if it malfunctions?

The corpus luteum(Latincorpus luteum ) is actually an endocrine gland that, in addition to progesterone, also produces other hormones important for fertilization and maintenance of pregnancy. In each monthly cycle, after ovulation, i.e. after the egg is released, a new yellow body is formed. It is made of the remains of a ruptured follicle. The size of this structure is considerable, because the corpus luteum may be 2 to 5 cm long and occupy 1/3 or even of the ovary. As the name implies, the corpus luteum is indeed yellowish in color because it contains significant amounts of carotenoids, especially lutein.

Yellow body - functions

During the menstrual cycle, one of the approx. 300,000 Graff follicles present in a woman's body matures. There is an egg in a Graff's follicle. In the process of luteinization, which occurs around the middle of the cycle (ovulation), the follicle ruptures and transforms into a corpus luteum.

If fertilization then occurs, the corpus luteum will turn into a gestational corpus luteum. If this does not happen, the corpus luteum will begin to decline, transforming into the menstrual corpuscle.

The corpus luteum produces several hormones, the most important of which is progesterone. The other hormones are estrogens, inhibin (a substance that reduces the secretion of FSH, i.e. follicle-stimulating hormone, in the pituitary gland) and relaxin (it is responsible for relaxing the structures of the pubic symphysis during childbirth, and also reduces uterine contractility).

The hormones secreted by the corpus luteum affect the uterine mucosa, i.e. the endometrium. They contribute to its thickening and better blood supply. Both processes are extremely important, even necessary, for the fertilized egg to establish itself in the uterine mucosa.

Produced by the corpus luteum, progesterone is essential throughout pregnancy. The maintenance of the corpus luteum is stimulated by the chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which isproduced from the 9th day after fertilization.

Proper functioning of the corpus luteum is most important during the first trimester of pregnancy. As pregnancy progresses, the placenta develops and produces progestins. Around 14-18. During the week of pregnancy, the placenta becomes the most important organ that produces hormones important for the proper course of pregnancy.

Yellow body - when fertilization is not achieved

When the egg is not fertilized, the corpus luteum produces the hormones mentioned above, but only for a limited time. After approx. 9-10. days after ovulation, the corpus luteum with the participation of white blood cells begins to decline.

The yellow body begins to change its color because it accumulates significant amounts of collagen. During this period, the changing yellow body is called the whitish body. After final transformation, the corpus luteum is an aggregate of connective tissue.

After the disappearance of the corpus luteum in a woman, there is a sudden drop in progesterone levels - this is the cause of the exfoliation of the endometrium and the onset of menstruation. In the next cycle, the whole process repeats itself.

Yellow body - malfunction

If the corpus luteum malfunctions, it is called a failure of the corpus luteum or a defect in the luteal phase. Improper functioning of the corpus luteum causes menstrual disorders - it can cause too long or too short periods. Intermenstrual spotting may also appear.

Disorders in the functioning of the corpus luteum can lead to problems with becoming pregnant or miscarriage.

The most common causes that disrupt the functioning of the corpus luteum are:

  • incorrect body weight (too big and too small)
  • endometriosis
  • hyperprolactinemia
  • chronic stress
  • polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • thyroid dysfunction (both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism)

Corpus luteum - treatment

When the corpus luteum is not working properly it does not make enough progesterone. In order to change this, a woman should take preparations with progestins in the second half of the cycle, which may increase the chances of fertilization.

However, before the drug is administered, the cause of the failure of the corpus luteum should be determined and it should be eliminated through appropriate therapy.

This is important, because very often removing the cause, e.g. regulating the thyroid gland, significantly changes the situation, i.e. eliminates the defect of the luteal phase.

About the authorAnna Jarosz A journalist who has been involved in popularization for over 40 yearshe alth education. Winner of many competitions for journalists dealing with medicine and he alth. She received, among others The "Golden OTIS" Trust Award in the "Media and He alth" category, St. Kamil awarded on the occasion of the World Day of the Sick, twice the "Crystal Pen" in the national competition for journalists promoting he alth, and many awards and distinctions in competitions for the "Medical Journalist of the Year" organized by the Polish Association of Journalists for He alth.

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