With infertility on the rise, more and more couples are turning to IVF as a definitive solution. Though there are some inherent risks with IVF, the success rates have gone up significantly over the last couple of decades. This has made it extremely popular for a couple facing infertility. IVF is no longer just a physical issue but also a hugely emotional one.
There are various factors which determine the success rate of IVF, and a thin endometrium is one of them. This is the inner lining of the uterus which should facilitate transfer and growth of the embryo throughout the course of pregnancy.
Ideally, the endometrium should be about 7 to 8 mm thick and have a 3-layered structure on ultrasound. If it is too thin, it may not be able to support the implantation of the fertilized egg. Further, even if it supports initially, as the embryo continues to grow, it may not be able to support the weight, leading to possible miscarriages.
Causes of the thin endometrium:
- Reduced blood supply to the uterus
- Reduced levels of estrogen
- History of endometriosis
- Scar tissue from prior uterine infections or surgery
While blood tests can help identify reduced estrogen levels, ultrasound can be used to measure blood flow to the uterus. The cause of thin endometrium needs to be addressed before going ahead with IVF so that the chances of success are increased.
- Estrogen supplements can be given if there is estrogen deficiency. This is essential to promote overall uterine health, which can sustain a healthy pregnancy.
- Surgically, uterine scraping where the top layers of the uterus are stimulated to produce a thicker lining. This is an outpatient procedure and produces excellent results in most women.
- Increased intake of L-arginine is another way to improve uterine health. It promotes blood flow, thickens the uterine lining, and improves the success rate. About 500 mg per day for about a month is considered beneficial.
- Uterine cleansing with for instance castor oil is another way to improve uterine lining.
- Uterine massage where herbal oils are used to massage the pelvis has also shown great results. It helps improve circulation to the uterus and surrounding reproductive organs and improves their overall health. This should be done about 2 to 3 months before IVF and stopped after IVF (can result in dislodgement!!)
- Acupuncture: Another well-established method to improve uterine lining and health is the use of acupuncture, as it improves circulation.
- Eating healthy, vitamin supplements if required, getting adequate rest, moderate workout, and quitting smoking all go a long way in improving uterine health.