Essential endometrium conditions for fertility
Having a thick, healthy lining of the uterus, called “the endometrium”, is essential for a healthy menstrual cycle and for pregnancy. A fertilized egg needs the endometrium to be a certain thickness so that it can implant in it and start growing. The endometrium layer of the uterus thickens close to implantation of the fertilized embryo. The endometrium also consists of a layer that is shed during menstruation. Estrogen is responsible for building a thick, full, blood-enriched endometrium. If the estrogen levels are insufficient, the uterus lining will remain thin.
A healthy adequate endometrium is at least 7-8 cm thick in order for the pregnancy to have a reasonable chance. In IVF treatments, the follicles as well as the thickness of the endometrium are monitored.
A researcher has hypothesized that having a thicker endometrium is more important in an environment that is less saturated with oxygen for the embryo. The blood vessels, found at the basal level of the endometrium, create a network of blood vessels that feed the endometrium and expose it to oxygen at partially high pressure. As the endometrium develops, the pressure of the oxygen drops significantly and allows the embryo to implant. It’s also been seen that embryos that grow in a poorly oxygenated environment survive longer in IVF labs.
When the endometrium is thin, the oxygen pressure in the endometrium remains high, which causes free radicals of oxygen to be created, which is harmful to the embryo and prevents it from being implanted.
A thin endometrium can be the result of one of the following:
- Fibroids and polyps in the uterine cavity
Benign tumors in the uterus (polyps) or in the uterus muscles (fibroids) that could reduce the normal flow of blood to the uterus and impact thickening of the endometrium.
The incidence of fibroids increases in direct proportion to the woman’s age. Symptoms that prove the existence of fibroids are: long, ‘heavy’ menstrual cycles, menstrual cramps, anemia, pressure in the lower part of the abdomen, lower back pains, pain during intercourse, and, in rare cases, a weight increase. Uterine polyps can cause bleeding in-between menstruations and long menstrual cycles.
In a study conducted in 2005 at the University of Oxford in England, it was found that surgical removal of uterine polyps could increase the chances of conception by 65%.
- If the uterus is damaged as a result of a surgical procedure (like a D&C, uterine polyp surgery, a cesarian section, and so on) or by infections, cancer, STDs, or an inflammatory disease of the pelvis, there may a reduction in the flow of blood to the endometrium, and this may cause damage or scar tissue in the uterus and impact its ability to function properly and to conceive. In case of infections within the uterus, surgery is needed. If an operation is needed, it’s important to have it done by a suitably experienced skilled doctor in order to prevent more damage from being done.
- Treating a medical condition with clomiphene: Clomiphene is medication used for treating fertility. Frequent use of this medicine may harm the endometrium’s reaction to the estrogen hormone and so prevent it from thickening properly.
- Continuous use of birth control pills: Pills that prevent pregnancy and other similar medications, which are based on a relatively high concentration of the progesterone hormone, could cause side effects in the form of inadequate thickening of the endometrium.
What can be done to thicken the endometrium?
To thicken the endometrium, the flow of blood to the uterus must be improved.
How do we improve the flow of blood to the uterus?
It doesn’t matter what the reason is for having a thin endometrium, make sure get your body moving every single day. If you work in an office, this is very important. Sitting all day compresses the reproductive organs.
Walking is a simple exercise and gets you to move your hips, allowing a lot more blood to flow to the uterus. Yoga, walking, swimming, dancing, etc., are all excellent ways to improve the blood flow to the reproductive organs. They help to reduce stress, which helps to keep the uterine artery open. Make sure that you keep moving and stretching your legs, thighs, stomach, and back to make sure that there is a proper flow of blood to the reproductive organs. The idea is not to overdo physical activity but to get blood flowing to the uterus. Physical activity that is too intensive could have the exact opposite effect.
Exercising also enhances the endometrium because it reduces stress and improves hormonal balance. One of the ways to do this is by running as explained in Running gave me my life back – running treatment
A thin endometrium is definitely one of the causes of fertility treatment failure. Fertility treatments involve stress and tension, which cause the stress hormone, such as adrenalin, to be secreted, and this interferes with the embryo’s ability to implant. Acupuncture reduces tension and the level of the stress hormone and increases the flow of blood in the body as well as the flow of blood to the uterus and to the ovaries. Acupuncture therefore improves the proper process of implantation of the embryos into the endometrium and their development in the uterus.
Also, because acupuncture comes from a holistic point of view, meaning that the woman’s body is treated as a whole, the acupuncturist checks for other problems that may be affecting the reproduction system and treats them too.
According to research, Chinese acupuncture as a fertility treatment method has demonstrated wonderful results among both men and women. Chinese acupuncture can be considered a successful treatment regime for the rehabilitation of fertility among patients by improving the quality of the sperm and the functioning of the ovaries and by balancing the hormonal system.
A pilot study on multidisciplinary fertility acupuncture found that acupuncture does indeed have a positive effect on women who are treated with it in comparison to women who only changed their lifestyle. It also increased these women’s awareness of their fertility and improved their well-being. Those who fell pregnant did it in half the time the group who only changed their lifestyle but did not get acupuncture did.
It’s important to mention that there are also some studies that did not find any benefit in Chinese acupuncture for women who are trying to improve their fertility but there’s a lot of evidence from women who are satisfied and succeeded – and so it’s worth a try!
Massaging the uterus
An abdominal massage given by a certified masseuse or by oneself increases the flow of blood to the uterus and to the endometrium, which is built mainly from blood vessels and therefore needs a constant flow of blood to it.
When the flow of blood to the uterus and the pelvis improves, more oxygen can reach the cells and nourish them with the right nutrients. Implantation of the embryo depends a lot on the amount of oxygen that reaches it through the endometrium and by the quality of the blood during the embryo’s first weeks in the uterus. Massaging the uterus as well as using medicinal herbs facilitate the flow of blood and oxygen to the uterus.
Massaging the abdomen area can only be done during the period between menstruation and ovulation – not during menstruation and not after ovulation.
A study was conducted in the US to examine the natural effect of an abdominal and pelvic massage on the woman’s fertility, as well as on IVF results. According to the results of the study, an abdominal and pelvic massage significantly improves the woman’s chances of in vitro conception both naturally and as a supplement to IVF.
Because this is an external and not an evasive technique and has almost no side effects, there is room to consider including the method in the treatment of fertility problems.
Treatment with castor oil (for external use only)
Castor oil is extracted from the castor oil plant. Its effectiveness is attributed to its quality of warming the area it is rubbed on and increasing the flow of blood to it. There are those who claim that it helps to heal and mend the tissues on the inner side of the skin and by stimulating the liver and the lymphatic system, and therefore cleanses toxins from the body.
Castor oil is used externally only. It can be used to massage the uterus or by simply dipping a piece of material in the oil and placing it on the skin of the lower stomach. The material should be covered with a nylon bag and a hot water bottle placed on top of it. You can lie down like this between half an hour and an hour. It’s important to pay attention not to smear it on damaged skin so that the oil does not penetrate into the body.
Castor oil should not be used during menstruation or after ovulation, and not while undergoing hormonal treatment.
Which hormone helps to thicken the endometrium?
The hormone that helps to thicken the endometrium is the estrogen hormone. The estrogen hormone can be taken in the form of pills orally or via the vagina. Its role is to cause changes in the uterus and to thicken the endometrium.
The endometrium needs the right levels of estrogen in order to thicken. In effect, the whole monthly cycle is dependent on having the proper levels of estrogen. The most common reason for a low estrogen level is the advanced age of the woman. As a woman gets older, their estrogen levels drop. It’s not common among women in their 20s or 30s but more among women over the age of 40.
If you are having problems getting pregnant or sustaining pregnancy, it may be worth checking your estradiol levels (estradiol is estrogen from a synthetic source or a natural source and has a strong action) and the thickness of your endometrium. If it’s found that you have a thin endometrium, most doctors will prescribe you estrogen medication to see if the endometrium responds well to it and thickens. If this doesn’t work, it indicates that the blood flow or the endometrium tissue has been damaged.
Medications that help the endometrium to grow are progynova and estrofem.
These medications contain the estrogen hormone and are taken if the endometrium is thin.
To remove any doubt, the contents of this article are intended to serve as a general overview only, and the information in it does not relate to a product nor is it intended to provide guidance, it does not comprise a certified medical recommendation, and it is not intended to instruct the public or to be used by it as advice, instruction, or a recommendation for the use, modification, or stopping use of any medication, and does not comprise a substitute for personal or other medical advice. Pregnant women, lactating women, children, and anyone taking prescription drugs must consult a doctor before using dietary supplements.