The hormone estrogen is responsible for thickening the endometrial (uterine) lining. In the Follicular phase of a women’s cycle (from cycle day 1 to ovulation), the pituitary gland gives off Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which stimulates the ovaries to produce between 5 to 20 follicles. Inside each one of these follicles is an immature egg. Generally only 1 follicle will become dominant and will ovulate. As the follicles start to grow, they excrete estrogen. Estrogen causes the endometrial lining to thicken and prepare for possible pregnancy.
When the endometrial lining is too thin, generally 7mm or below, implantation can be compromised. If you have a light or scanty menstrual cycle that is 3 days or less, this may indicate a thin endometrial lining. An ultrasound is the best way to check for thickness. A favorable lining will be between 8-14 mm and will be trilaminar (showing 3 distinct layers).
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine, too thin of an endometrial lining can mean that yin and/or blood are compromised. Yin is considered the “substance of life” and is stored in the Kidneys. Being the densest of matter, it creates bones, marrow and blood. We look to Yin and Blood to build and nourish the uterine lining and ultimately support pregnancy.
Research shows that acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterus and ovaries thereby supporting proper uterine lining and egg maturation. In another study, acupuncture was shown to improve the poor receptive state of the endometrium by promoting LIF and IL-12 secretions to improve blastocyst implantation.
Herbal medicine may be prescribed depending on your particular situation. Herbs are healing and nourishing and help build blood and Yin. Research concluded that Chinese Herbal medicine improved pregnancy rates two-fold within a four-month period.
Food is considered medicine and therefore a proper diet with foods that are nutrient dense and support Yin and blood are recommended:
- Foods rich in chlorophyll: spinach, spirulina, chlorella, broccoli, collard greens, green cabbage, asparagus, green beans and peas.
- Plenty of healthy fats: Coconut, avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
- Stay hydrated: strive for half your body weight in ounces.
- Bone Broth: ½-1 cup per day. Bone broth supports Kidney energy and therefore reproductive energy. It also reduces oxidative stress and inflammation, repairs cellular damage and supports detox protocols.
- Consume adequate amounts of protein, either in vegetarian form or in lean meats that have not been hormonally treated.
- Eat dark berries: like cherries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. They are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help cleanse and nourish the blood.
- Beets also nourish the blood in Chinese Medicine. They have also been shown to improve blood flow, fight inflammation and lower blood pressure.
- Femoral Massage increases blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, nourishing the reproductive organs.
- Maya Abdominal Massage also helps to relieve congestion and blockages in the abdomen and improve circulation.
written by Andrea Iwi'ula in the Bellevue office