The lining of a woman’s uterus, also called the endometrium, is where a developing embryo implants in the first days of a pregnancy. For women undergoing IVF, the thickness of this lining is very important. The fertility doctor will measure the thickness of the lining before the embryo transfer, to ensure that it is sufficiently thick to allow for implantation. A thick, receptive, nourishing uterine lining is the best possible environment for the embryo, and the ideal lining is at least 7 to 8mm thick and displays a “trilaminar” (or “three layered”) appearance on an ultrasound. A too-thin uterine lining can be a serious problem in IVF, leading to failed implantation or display irregularity in their lining and early pregnancy loss.
It is possible for you to become pregnant with a lining that is less than 7 to 8mm thick, but to give you the best chance of success, your fertility specialist might suggest that you attempt to thicken and improve your uterine lining before the embryo transfer procedure. Here are some ways to encourage the growth of your endometrium.
1. Sleep enough.
Sleep is essential to build new blood cells and nourish your uterine lining. Try to develop a healthy sleep pattern to ensure you get 7-9 hours of sleep nightly. Be in bed by 11pm at the latest. If you are difficult to fall asleep, try to have a relaxing night-time routine, like taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music or giving yourself a hand massage.
2. Partake in regular, moderate exercise.
Most of us have relatively sedentary lives these days, with desk jobs which keep us sitting for hours. During that time, blood flow slows and the reproductive organs are compressed. Regular and moderate exercise increases the blood flow throughout your body, and that includes blood flow to your uterus. Good blood flow help build a better endometrium.
However high intensity/high-impact exercise isn’t recommended for women undergoing IVF. Brisk walks, easy bike rides, gentle yoga or swim 20 to 30 mins daily are all great ways to get your blood pumping. If you have a job that requires you to sit a lot, try to get up and move around for two minutes out of every hour.
3. Eat lining-building foods.
In Traditional Chinese medicine, a thin uterine lining is a sign of what we call “Blood Deficiency”, which means the body just is lacking enough blood to nourish the organs and tissues. And the following blood nourishing foods could help: Soups and stews (red meat, chicken with the bones); Warm foods (avoid raw (including raw veggies) and cold); Bone broth; whole grains; Grass-fed ground beef or lamb; Beets; Cooked leafy greens and broccoli; Eggs; lean protein from beans and lentils.
Caffeine and nicotine are not good for your circulation. You should quit smoking and cut back coffee to one cup a day.
4. Consider your body weight.
Women with a low BMI might want to think about gaining a little weight with the help of a nutritionist. Extra weight can promote pelvic blood flow, and fat cells produce additional estrogen. The goal is to have a normal BMI, which ranges from 18.5 to 24.9.
5. Take some supplements.
Iron supplement: Iron deficiency can cause a thin uterine lining. Ask your doctor to do a blood test to check your iron levels. If your levels are low, it is better to eat more iron-rich foods and take a supplement during the IVF cycle.
Vitamin E: Taking vitamin E may improve blood flow to the uterine lining and improve endometrial thickness. Eat foods rich in vitamin E and talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin E supplement.
6. Try Acupuncture .
Many women find that acupuncture is very helpful during IVF cycle. Visit an experienced and qualified acupuncturist for treatment. They will apply needles to specific points in your body to help improve your circulation, boost blood flow to the uterus and increase the thickness of the uterine lining.