Thicken Your Lining for Transfer, Naturally.

A healthy, thick lining is important for a healthy menstrual cycle and the implantation and growth of your embryo.

The thickness of your lining changes throughout your cycle, ranging from between 2-4mm during menstruation, then building to between 7 and 16mm when it’s around the time for an embryo to land in your lining – around transfer time.

You may have heard your fertility specialist say they like to see your lining thicker than 7mm to transfer your embryo.

Your fertility specialist also likes to see what’s called a ‘trilaminar’ appearance. This is when youcan clearly see the three healthy layers to your endometrium. Each layer has a particular function in being able to support a pregnancy so always good to know how yours is looking – you can always ask at your scan before your transfer.

When your lining is too thin, it may be missing some healthy characteristics that help support a healthy pregnancy, so it’s always a good idea to improve the health of your lining if you can.

There are three main causes of a thin uterine lining:

  1. Low estrogen
  2. Poor uterine blood flow
  3. Disruption to uterine lining – due to infection, caesarean section, pelvic inflammatory disease, laparoscopy surgery

Some natural things you can do to help:

  • Eat a warm, varied diet. Green vegetables are always good for estrogen metabolism. Meat or equivalent proteins are always good for blood building and blood flow. In Chinese medicine, cold foods can slow blood and cause pain in the pelvis so stick to cooked and warm foods.
  • Herbs (if in between IVF cycles or have the approval of your fertility specialist) – there are a huge variety of blood moving and estrogen supporting herbs but make sure you seek professional advice for the right ones for you
  • Exercise – so important for blood flow, walking helps move the hips, yoga helps move blood around the pelvis but running and extreme sports can negatively impact the blood flow to your pelvis so opt for more gentle exercises
  • Stress management – include more of the things you enjoy. When you feel stressed, you can experience symptoms like palpitations, breathlessness, tight neck and shoulders and sleeplessness which can all affect blood flow to your pelvis. If your body thinks you need energy for ‘fight or flight’, it starts to turn off your reproductive efforts
  • Mindfulness – a great practice to do every day to keep overthinking at bay. In Chinese medicine, overthinking uses up energy and blood that would otherwise be useful for your lining.
  • Castor oil packs – having warm, castor oil rubbed into your abdomen regularly can help warm and move blood around your pelvis

Lastly, acupuncture.

Acupuncture, by nature is calming and blood moving. Used with a heated herb, moxa, it can help warm the pelvis and direct blood flow to your pelvis and lining. It also works to keep you still and calm, reducing the effect stress can have on the growth of your lining.

Acupuncture is also anti-inflammatory which can help manage symptoms of pelvic inflammation and pain. This manual therapy is generally supported by fertility specialists because we’re not adding herbs or supplements that have unknown interactions with the IVF medications.

So there’s lots of natural ways you can improve your lining during your IVF cycle. We want to see a nice, beautiful thick, comfortable womb to grow your little embryo.

Registered acupuncturist and owner of Gold Coast acupuncture clinic, The Point of Wellbeing

Pomegranate Juice, Pineapple Cores and Brazil Nuts….can they make any difference to your IVF success?

I get asked about these foods often. There are forums and forums of information from women who have increased the consumption of these foods and had successful pregnancy stories.

There are plenty too that have had no success from including these foods, so how true is it, that eating these foods improves your chance of pregnancy with IVF?

I have a nutritional, research based and Chinese medicine viewpoint on this and some simple advice.

  1. Pomegranate Juice

In Chinese medicine, pomegranates have a sweet and sour taste which means they have an effect on the digestion and the liver. The red colour of the fruit means it has an effect on blood and its circulation. From a nutrition point of view, pomegranate contains high levels of antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium and fiber. The down side is, they are very high in sugar. The juice especially and even more especially the store bought versions.

So pomegranate may have the potential to help with falling pregnant through boosting your immune system, soothing the liver energy (which in Chinese medicine has a big impact on your lining and menstrual cycle) and improving blood flow.

However, to really improve this function, I would mix your fresh pomegranate juice with a small amount of honey and a small sprinkle of cinnamon. These added ingredients will improve the blood and immune function of the pomegranate juice.

The only research available looking into the effects of pomegranate juice and fertility is a study on pomegranate seed oil extract for sperm quality in rats. Having up to 5000mg/kg of the oil did improve final embryo development. For a human weighing 70kg, that would be 350,000mg of pomegranate seed oil…eeek! (Niksevesht et al., 2015). Can’t imagine how many pomegranate’s that would be.

  1. Brazil Nuts

In nutritional medicine, Brazil nuts have the highest source of selenium out of any other foods by the same weight. Selenium is an antioxidant mineral that helps protect cells from damage. From a fertility point of view, this helps prevent sperm, eggs and embryos from cellular damage which may be associated with chromosomal damage and miscarriage.

There are currently no available studies I could find looking into the improved outcomes of pregnancy with IVF with Brazil nuts. If you find one, please send it to me, would be happy to update this post.

From a Chinese medicine perspective, Brazil nuts are considered a sweet and neutral to warm food. They have a positive influence on the energy of your digestion, kidney system and lung system. Your kidney system has a big influence on fertility and pregnancy in Chinese medicine, so any foods which support this system can help pregnancy success.

However, be aware that selenium in high doses can be toxic so please don’t go obsessively overboard on the Brazil nuts. Whilst they’re a great food to include after transfer, so are all the other nuts.

  1. Pineapple Core

This tasty summer fruit core contains a helpful enzyme named bromelain. This enzyme helps aid digestion and may help reduce inflammation, pain and swelling. This all sounds very helpful for a fresh transfer after your egg retrieval procedure.

In Chinese medicine, this fruit is neutral in thermal nature and has sweet and sour flavours. It is used to remove excess heat from the liver system which is often seen as inflammation.

Some cautions with pineapple, is that it can cause increased bleeding so you will need to discuss this with your fertility specialist especially if you are taking aspirin or clexane injections.

It is reportedly (through online forums) helpful specifically for embryo implantation but I can’t find any research to back up that claim. I also couldn’t find any reliable research looking into the effect of pineapple on success rates of IVF at all.

So in summary – all three foods have great, healthy qualities. Are they specific to improved outcomes with IVF? I don’t think so.

In Chinese medicine, we never consider one particular food as being the fix for any conditions. It is always the combination with the rest of your diet.

My advice is to always eat a warm, balanced diet. Eat food in its most natural state, not in a concentrated juice or extract. Remember also, that these three foods aren’t the only sources of the nutrients they provide. Plenty of other nuts, fruit and vegetables contain these nutrients in a variety of amounts.

So whilst it won’t harm you to eat more of these foods after your embryo transfer, please don’t be obsessive in your consumption. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, starches and protein and you will be giving your body the best chance of health before, during and after your embryo transfer.

Lastly, if you’re eating fatty foods, other high sugar foods, not exercising, not sleeping well, not drinking enough water and not looking after your health in general, it is highly doubtful these foods on their own will make any difference to your IVF outcome.

Always happy to hear your thoughts.

info@thepointofwellbeing.com.au

References:

Pitchford, P (2002) Health with whole foods: Asian traditions and modern nutrition. 3rd ed, North Atlantic Books

Niksevesht, M et al. (2015) Effects of pomegranate seed oil on the fertilisation potency of rat’s sperm, J Clin Diagn Res, Vol. 19, No. 12, doi 10.7860/JCDR/2015/12576.6853