Your womb or uterus is lined by the endometrium; it consists of several layers of tissue, the innermost of which grows and sheds (grows thick and then thin again) during healthy menstruation each month. An adequately thick uterine lining is required for a healthy uterus and a healthy menstrual period. It’s also necessary for successful implantation of an embryo and pregnancy.
Knowing this, to hear “thick uterine lining” does not immediately indicate infertility or mean a woman will never become pregnant. Remember, the uterine lining thickens naturally in response to fluctuating hormones each cycle, as well as during pregnancy. A uterine lining thickness of 6 to 13 mm (millimeters) around the ovulation is considered adequate. However, a chronically thickened uterine lining, over 15 mm, according to the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago, may cause difficulty for an embryo to implant. Being diagnosed with a thick uterine lining can be very concerning for a woman who is also working on a fertility health issue. It’s an alert that hormones are imbalanced and extra support is needed.
Could You Have a Thick Uterine Lining?
A visit to your OB/GYN can give you a definitive answer. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, follow-up tests can tell you whether a thick uterine lining is a cause. Symptoms to watch for:
- irregular or frequent periods
- heavy bleeding (dysmenorrhea)
- breakthrough bleeding (bleeding between cycles)
- feelings of heaviness in the pelvic region
- uterine cramping or pain during intercourse (dyspareunia)
Common Causes of a Thick Uterine Lining
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology shares this about a thick uterine lining or endometrial hyperplasia: “Endometrial hyperplasia most often is caused by excess estrogen without progesterone. If ovulation does not occur, progesterone is not made, and the lining is not shed. The endometrium may continue to grow in response to estrogen. The cells that make up the lining may crowd together and may become abnormal.”
There can be many factors that can contribute to excessive uterine lining growth or a thick uterine lining, that also impact fertility health, including:
- Absent periods: The uterine lining can thicken in response to a hormone imbalance that may cause a missed menstrual period (if this happens the uterine lining is not shed and can build up).
- Endometriosis: A thick uterine lining is one of the most common features of endometriosis, which can also be accompanied by retrograde menstruation (reverse menstruation), a probable culprit behind the condition.
- Fibroids (polyps): Having fibroids (polyps) in the uterus or on the cervix can cause the uterine lining to thicken and harden.
- Age: Some women experience a thickened or hardened uterine lining as they age.
- Being Overweight: A thick uterine lining is common in overweight women who may be estrogen dominant. If accompanied by diabetes, this can play a role in uterine lining thickness as well.
- PCOS: Women with PCOS may experience estrogen dominance and hormone imbalance, along with heavy or irregular cycles.
- Uterine cancer or precancerous cells: Abnormal or cancerous cells in the uterus can cause the lining to thicken. Today, doctors suggest a biopsy for menopausal women with a uterine lining thickness over 11 mm or for premenopausal women who have other risk factors.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Taking hormone-containing drugs (HRT, birth control, or fertility drugs) may cause a thickened uterine lining. Some fertility drugs are actually used to encourage a thicker uterine lining.
- Recurrent pelvic infections: Pelvic infections may play a role in the development of a thick uterine lining.
- Pregnancy: The uterine walls thicken naturally to support the baby during pregnancy.
Concerned About Uterine Cancer Risk? Uterine cancer risk rises after menopause. Only ¼ of cases occur during pre-menopause. Have a discussion with your doctor if you’re concerned, or if you have risk factors such as using hormone therapies or a family history of cancer. If your uterine lining is very thick, your medical doctor can order a biopsy to rule out endometrial cancer.
Natural Therapies For Uterine Lining Support
A natural approach offers gentle fertility boosting and body-rebalancing benefits.
1. Eat an organic, plant-based diet. Make sure your plate is filled with colorful fruits and vegetables at every meal. Avoid red meat (even organic) and dairy foods. Choose protein sources like organic poultry, wild fish, legumes, beans or high-quality vegetarian protein powders (not soy). A plant-based diet encourages better hormone metabolism and elimination. Choose organic to avoid hormone-mimics present in conventional foods.
2. Eat more fiber. Fiber helps the body to eliminate excess estrogen, a frequent culprit for a thick uterine lining. Eat foods like apples, pears, cruciferous vegetables, flax or chia seeds, whole grains, legumes, and beans on a daily basis. Eating fiber also curbs food cravings and aids in weight loss. Excess weight is a risk factor for a thick uterine lining.
3. Avoid soy foods, caffeine, and alcohol. When over-consumed, these foods can imbalance estrogen levels and contribute to estrogen dominance. For soy, use only fermented, non-GMO soy foods like miso soup or tempeh in moderation.
4. Consider fertility cleansing. A Fertility Cleanse helps to support the liver, the organ in charge of hormone metabolism. It’s a great first step for women with estrogen dominance symptoms or who have taken rounds of fertility drugs. A Fertility Cleanse helps to give the body a fresh start, and uses herbs that tone and support the uterus.
5. Use DIM for estrogen metabolism support. DIM (diindolylmethane) comes from the plant chemical indole-3-carbinol present in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale and cauliflower. However, to get just 10-30 mg of DIM you would have to eat 1.5 pounds of these vegetables! For the best results, keep eating your vegetables and take DIM. Suggested dosage: 100 to 200 mg a day.
6. Build iron levels. If your bleeding is heavy secondary to a thick uterine lining, a food source iron supplement like Blood Builder can shore up your iron levels without causing constipation. Astringent herbs in Slow Flow can also manage symptoms and support the uterus as you go through the process.
7. Learn about Natural progesterone therapy. If your progesterone is low (have medical tests to find out), Natural Progesterone Therapy may help your body to normalize and avoid a thick uterine lining.
Obstetrics and gynecology resident, Alex J. Childs, MD shared in the journal OBG Management that “A review of 4 large studies found that progestin was associated with regression in 90% of women with hyperplasia arising from unopposed estrogen therapy. Several small retrospective studies found that progestin was likely to induce regression of atypical hyperplasia unrelated to estrogen therapy.”
Note: If you’ve been using hormone-containing drugs for a long time to decrease uterine lining thickness without success, it may be time for a break. Consult with your doctor to discuss your options. Some women may consider a D&C to remove the lining. If this is your choice, natural therapies like Systemic Enzymes offer important support for your recovery.
8. Use natural personal care products. Parabens and phthalates in commercial personal care products have hormone disrupting action and add to the body’s toxic burden. I find many people actually prefer natural personal care products once they’ve made the switch.
9. De-stress and take it easy. Stress worsens hormone imbalances which can trigger a thick uterine lining. Do your best to relax every day! Avoid intense exercise which can worsen heavy bleeding. Take a walk, leisurely bike ride or do Fertility Yoga instead.
Set Your Intention on Healing
If you’re experiencing a chronically thick uterine lining, try to be patient as you set your intentions on healing. It can take 3-6 months of consistent diet changes along with natural therapies in order to bring about real change in the body. Be gentle with yourself and know the changes you’re making will help promote uterine lining health and natural fertility. Reach out to us if you need support on your journey. You’re not alone!
- Endometrial Hyperplasia. (2011, May). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Retrieved from: http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Endometrial-Hyperplasia
- Perkins, S. (2015, July). How To Get Pregnant with Thick Uterine Lining. Retrieved from: https://www.livestrong.com/article/75419-pregnant-thick-uterine-lining/
- Smith-Bindman R., Weiss E. and Feldstein V. (2004, Oct.). How thick is too thick? When endometrial thickness should prompt biopsy in postmenopausal women without vaginal bleeding. Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology; 24(5):558-65. Retrieved from: https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/uog.1704
- Thick Uterine Lining. (2014). New Health Guide. Retrieved from: http://www.newhealthguide.org/Thick-Uterine-Lining.html
- Sherbahn. R. (12/17/2018). Uterine Problems Can Cause Infertility or Miscarriage. Retrieved from https://www.advancedfertility.com/uterus.htm
- Child, A.J. (2003 September). Conservative management of endometrial hyperplasia: New strategies and experimental options. OBG Manag. 2003 September;15(9):15-26. Retrieved from https://www.mdedge.com/obgyn/article/61428/conservative-management-endometrial-hyperplasia-new-strategies-and-experimental
- Alcohol. (2017). Susan G. Komen. Retrieved from: https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/DrinkingAlcohol.html
- Rodriguez, H. (2017). You Can Reduce Excess Estrogen with Supplement DIM. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/estrogen-dominance