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Can my endometrium be too thick?

Posted Sep 25 2009 3:34pm
Wow, what a terrible blogger I have been these past few weeks. No new posts for a while and no insightful hints for the 3 regular readers of this blog (sorry Mom, I promise to call this week!). I could make up some incredible story about how I have been performing 80 hours of community service a week or that I have been traveling to South America with certain public officials from South Carolina or that I have been sick for weeks with the Swine Flu. Clearly, this last excuse may engender some sympathy....but the truth is that I have just been pulled in too many directions. Sorry.

So let's discuss the endometrium here since I recently received a slew of questions on the INCIID site about the thickness of the endometrium and what is ideal for fertility. Abraham Lincoln was once asked "How long should a man's legs be?" He astutely answered "Long enough to reach the ground." The same could be said for the endometrium in that it needs to be thick enough to allow for implantation of the embryo. Most studies suggest that "long enough" is anything over 7-8 mm.

So a few years ago I had a patient that was trying to get ready to do an FET cycle and had not had a period for 6 months and had PCOS. On sonogram the lining was pretty darn thick at 22mm (usual is 7-12mm). Patients with PCOS are clearly at risk for endometrial hyperplasia and even endometrial cancer. So I gave her a couple of weeks of Provera to get the lining to shed. No significant bleeding and the lining was still at 22 mm. So I did an endometrial biopsy which was read by pathology as possible cancer. Yikes! I immediately sent her to one of our local Gyn Oncologists who did an office D&C that yielded only scant tissue.

When I repeated the sonogram the damn lining was still 22 mm. I really was getting concered here but too a step backwards and decided to do a water sonogram in the office. Guess what. There was a large polyp sitting right there in the cavity and since polyps can have an unusual appearance on pathology that would explain the initial concern about cancer. The patient underwent hysteroscopy and I was able to easily remove the polyp. Case closed.

So when patient inquire about endometrial thickness I usually respond that as long as it is a normal lining without a polyp or a fibroid or cancer then thick is fine.

Thin endometrial linings can be another matter. Some patients have a thin lining becasue of previous surgery or simply because that is the lining that they have been giving and nothing can really improve upon it. I have tried all the usual voo-doo for thin linings....vaginal estrogen, Viagra, terbutaline, nitroglycerine, animal name it. Some seem to help, some don't...I honestly have no recipe that works for everyone. The thinest lining that I ever had that resulted in a healthy baby was 5 mm!

So good luck growing those endometriums but try not to panic if you have an 8 mm and not a 15 mm lining. Anything >7mm should be fine and if waiting an extra week gains you a mm or two then all the better.
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