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.
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:
- Low estrogen
- Poor uterine blood flow
- 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
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