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Thin uterine lining

In in order for a pregnancy to occur, the embryo must implant into the uterine lining (also known as the endometrium). Two hormones produced from the ovaries thicken and prepare the uterine lining for implantation. Estrogen causes the thin uterine lining to thicken. Progesterone causes the thickened uterine lining to develop the characteristics needed for implantation.

Women who are attempting pregnancy using frozen embryos or with donor eggs will commonly receive estrogen and progesterone supplements in preparation for transfer of a thawed embryo into the uterine cavity.

Thin uterine lining

Numerous studies have found that if a woman has a persistently thin uterine lining despite receiving adequate amounts of estrogen, then the chance for pregnancy is reduced. For many women, the cause of a persistently thin uterine lining is unknown. Many different therapies have been used in an attempt to improve the thickness of the uterine lining during estrogen supplementation but none have shown consistent benefits in this group.

Possible causes and treatments for thin uterine lining

In some women, a thin uterine lining may be the result of not getting a sufficient amount of estrogen. Estrogen levels can be checked with a blood test. Estrogen is most commonly given orally but if this fails, other alternatives include estrogen patches, estrogen injections or administering estrogen vaginally.

If the amount of estrogen is adequate, a thin uterine lining could be the result of damage to the uterine lining. For example, a previous uterine infection or surgery inside the uterine cavity could cause scar tissue to form which replaces the normal uterine lining. If this is the case, then surgery to remove scar tissue may be necessary.

Using ultrasound, doctors can measure blood flow to the uterus. Some studies indicate that failure of the uterine lining to thicken could be due to decreased blood flow. One study used high doses of Vitamin E and an amino acid called L-arginine to increase the thickness of the uterine lining. Unfortunately, this treatment only worked in about half of those women with poor blood flow which itself was not a common cause for thin uterine lining.

There have not been any studies to show that herbal supplements or “cleanses” will help thicken the uterine lining or improve fertility and should be avoided because of the possibility for adverse effects.

Acupuncture, massages, exercise, stress reduction has also failed to improve a thin uterine lining but there is no risks to these therapies.

New treatments for thin uterine lining

Since the cells of the uterine lining arise from stem cells at the bottom or base of the uterine lining. There have been recent studies looking at treatments to stimulate these stem cells to produce a healthier, thicker uterine lining.

Read more about clinical studies at IVF1 for women with persistently thin uterine lining.