How to thicken the uterine lining for pregnancy – can it be done naturally?

If you’ve been told that your uterine lining is too thin for pregnancy, but you’re totally stumped on what to do about it - ‘How to thicken the uterine lining’ is not exactly common conversation - you’re not alone and you’re in the right place for natural solutions.
thicken uterine lining for pregnancy naturally

If you found yourself here, I suspect your doctor has told you that your uterine lining is too thin, making it harder to get pregnant – whether naturally or with IVF . I also suspect that you were given minimal, if any, guidance on exactly how to thicken your uterine lining.

For women trying to conceive, a thick uterine lining is essential for the successful implantation, and then for growth & development of an embryo. Thankfully, there is a lot you can do to thicken the uterine lining for pregnancy – and you CAN do it naturally.

Diet and nutrition play a key role to help enhance the thickness and quality of the uterine lining, potentially increasing the chances of pregnancy.

This blog post is going to explain everything you need to know about why a thick uterine lining matters for your fertility and a healthy pregnancy, and how you can thicken your uterine lining naturally – particularly what foods you can eat that will support a healthy uterine lining. 

Here are several science-backed strategies to help thicken your uterine lining in preparation for pregnancy.

 

What is your uterine lining?

When we say “uterine lining”, we’re talking about the tissue that sheds from your vagina each cycle when you get your period. 

In more technical terms, it’s called the endometrium, and as the name implies, it’s literally the inner lining of the uterine cavity. 

The uterine lining grows and thickens each month in preparation for pregnancy. If conception occurs, the egg will implant into the uterine lining. If conception does not occur, the lining sheds – i.e. you get a period. 

The endometrium includes a base layer – called the basalis. This basalis makes up the bottom ⅓ of the endometrium and is not shed with your period. Instead, the basalis is used to regenerate the top ⅔ of the endometrium that DOES shed each cycle. 

So, a healthy basalis layer is key to growing a thick uterine lining each cycle. 

 

How do I know if my uterine lining is too thin? 

The most common way to measure the thickness of a uterine lining is through an intravaginal ultrasound (don’t be surprised when they go inside your vagina with the ultrasound wand). 

Typically, a uterine lining measuring < 7mm is considered “thin”. 

 

When to measure uterine lining thickness

It’s critical to understand that the thickness of your uterine lining changes throughout your menstrual cycle – so timing is everything when measuring uterine lining thickness. 

Immediately after your period, your uterine lining will be at its thinnest, because the lining was just shed as menstrual fluid.

Uterine lining thickness should be measured as close as possible to ovulation, about mid-way through a typical cycle. This is when your uterine lining reaches peak thickness.

After ovulation, the hormone progesterone will cause the uterine lining to become more compact (this is good in terms of uterine health and getting pregnant, but misleading when measuring thickness). 

 

IVF vs Natural Conception

It’s also critical to know that we only have research on uterine lining thickness among women undergoing fertility treatments. It’s possible that women get pregnant naturally with a thin uterine lining all of the time – we just have no idea because it’s not measured. 

Within the context of IVF, research shows that a uterine lining <7 mm thick decreases likelihood of a viable pregnancy. 

 

Signs and symptoms of a thin uterine lining

Without an ultrasound, some signs that indicate you could, potentially* have of a thin uterine lining include:

*None of the below signs are definitive or diagnostic in-and-of-themselves. You should always consult a licensed healthcare provider.

  • Missing periods 
    Hypothalamic amenorrhea or a missing period for 3 or more months (when you’re not taking hormonal contraceptives and you’re not pregnant) often goes hand in hand with a thin uterine lining. 

    In this case, you don’t have enough estrogen to build a uterine lining. Thus, there is no lining to shed and you don’t get a period. 
  • A short, light period 
    A light period can also indicate a thin uterine lining.

How do you know if you have a “light” period? 

It is “light” if each cycle you bleed for only 1-2 days, and the amount of menstrual fluid lost is < 25 ml (~5 teaspoons or less). Measured in feminine care products, with a light period, you would use less than 5 pads or tampons each cycle.  

What causes a thin uterine lining? 

Before jumping into how to thicken your uterine lining, the first step is to figure out what’s the underlying cause of the issue. Depending on the cause, your course of action could look very different. 

And a thin uterine lining can have a variety of causes – from a chronic infection to under-eating. 

This blog will dive deeper into the most common causes of a thin uterine lining to guide your investigation. 

Potential causes of a thin uterine lining include: 

  • Diminished ovarian reserve
    If your ovarian reserve is low, this means that you have fewer follicles developing in the ovary each cycle. Follicles produce estrogen as they develop, so fewer follicles means less estrogen. Without enough estrogen, the uterine lining fails to thicken adequately. 
  • Pituitary dysfunction. 
    The pituitary gland in your brain produces follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which tells the follicles in your ovaries to start growing and maturing. If there’s an issue with pituitary function, you could have less FSH, stunting follicle development, which means less estrogen production and ultimately, a thin uterine lining. 
  • Inflammatory conditions. 
    Acute or chronic infections, like endometritis, or auto-immune conditions, can damage the basal layer of the endometrium, preventing proper uterine lining growth. 
  • Uterine scarring. 
    Uterine scarring after procedures such as dilation and curettage (D&C), or removal of fibroids, can damage the basalis layer that is used to regenerate the endometrium. If there’s too much scar tissue, it can block the normal growth of the uterine lining. 
  • Hormonal birth control.
    If you did not get a period, or only a very light period, for years while taking hormonal birth control, it can take some time for your hormones to get back in the swing of things once you discontinue. 
  • Poor blood flow.
    Growing a new uterine lining each cycle requires a lot of blood flowing to the uterus to provide nutrients and oxygen to build the tissues. If blood to the uterus is limited, this can cause a thin lining.  

  • Low Estrogen.
    Estrogen is the hormone responsible for thickening your uterine lining each cycle. So, low estrogen is a primary culprit to blame for a thin uterine lining.

I recommend you start by evaluating your estrogen levels – (in my clinical practice, I have found that DUTCH testing is the most accurate way to assess estrogen levels, rather than just a one-time blood draw).  

If you and your provider determine that your estrogen levels are low, the next step is to figure out WHY your estrogen is low. 

In menstruating women, the main source of estrogen comes from follicles developing in the ovaries. 

The pituitary gland in your brain tells the follicles in your ovaries to start growing and maturing in preparation for ovulation. As they mature, they produce estrogen. 

If anything goes awry along the way – like weak signals from the pituitary gland or too few follicles in the ovaries, estrogen levels will suffer and your uterine lining won’t properly thicken. 

 

Lifestyle factors that cause a thin uterine lining: 

If you have a thin uterine lining, and you have ruled out the conditions listed above, it’s time to look at your lifestyle. 

Here are the common lifestyle factors that I see among women – especially health-savvy, active women, which can result in low estrogen levels and a thin uterine lining: 

    • Under-eating

    • Low body weight

    • Chronic stress

    • Over-exercise

    • Not eating enough protein

    • Not eating enough fat

    • Poor sleep 

 

How to thicken the uterine lining for pregnancy – naturally!

Yes, you can thicken the uterine lining pregnancy! 

Once you have ruled out common conditions listed above and you’re ready to dive into your lifestyle, you can definitely turn things around, for a thicker uterine lining. 

And it doesn’t take that long! Among the women I help get pregnant, when they stay consistent, improved hormone and uterine health can happen in just a few months.  

 

Nutrition and diet for a thicker uterine lining 

The first step to a healthy uterine lining is to make sure you’re eating enough. If you’re in a calorie deficit, in other words- not eating enough, your brain will shut down reproduction. 

This is true for women of all body shapes and sizes

Women with higher BMIs can still be under-eating. 

No matter what the number on the scale, if you’re not eating enough, it puts your body in a state of stress. Your brain detects that there’s not enough energy to reproduce, and turns off FSH from the pituitary gland. 

Read: Am I Eating Enough to Get Pregnant?

Once you know you’re eating enough total calories, the next step is to make sure you’re eating enough of each of the key nutrients needed for estrogen balance and a healthy uterine lining. 

 

Eat protein to thicken your uterine lining

Proteins are the literal building blocks of your hormones, including the FSH and estrogen. 

Without enough protein, your body may not be able to make the hormones for follicles to grow, produce estrogen and prompt the uterine lining to grow. 

Protein is also a critical building block of the tissue that makes the uterine lining itself. 

Quality sources of protein come from pastured or grass-fed and organic: 

    • Eggs (with the yolk!)

    • Pork, beef, chicken or turkey

    • Fish and shellfish 

    • Organic, unprocessed soy like edamame, tofu or tempeh

    • Greek yogurt 

    • Cottage cheese 

 

Eat healthy fats to thicken your uterine lining

Despite its bad reputation, cholesterol is essential to hormone health. Cholesterol is a literal building block of estrogen. So if total fat and cholesterol intake is too low, estrogen levels – and your uterine lining – can suffer. 

Certain kinds of fats, namely omega-3s from cold-water fatty fish, can further increase blood flow to the uterus. More on omega-3 fats below. 

 

What foods increase uterine lining? 

For a thick uterine lining, the FIRST step is to make sure you’re eating enough in total, as well as eating enough protein and fat. Once those nutrition foundations are in place, you may be able to further enhance uterine health with the following foods: 

 

Almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds peanuts and avocado for vitamin E

These foods are all a rich source of healthy fats and vitamin E and research supports additional vitamin E for improving uterine lining thickness.  

The prenatal that I recommend for fertility, FullWell (use code ANNA10)*  includes vitamin E, I recommend eating food sources of vitamin E such as almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts or avocado on a daily basis. 

 

Chicken, turkey and pork for l-arginine.

These nuts and seeds are also a good source of L-arginine. L-arginine is an amino acid that can increase blood flow to the uterus by producing nitric oxide, a compound that helps widen blood vessels. 

One very small, pilot study found that L-arginine may also support a thick uterine lining by increasing blood flow to the endometrium. 

While the data is too scant for me to recommend supplementing with L-arginine, these foods will support fertility in general, and they come with L-arginine benefits.

 

Salmon, sardines, mackerel and anchovies for omega-3s

What do all these fish have in common? They are all rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, namely EPA and DHA. 

While we don’t have studies directly looking at the impact of omega-3s and uterine lining thickness, we do know that omega-3 fats can help reduce inflammation and improve blood flow. 

And that ample blood flow improves the health of the uterine lining. 

 

Beyond nutrition – More lifestyle tips to thicken the uterine lining for pregnancy

Manage Stress:

Stress can adversely affect your hormonal balance and overall reproductive health. Techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can reduce stress and improve your estrogen levels for a thick uterine lining. 

I don’t say “lower” stress because I know that it’s not a light switch you can just flick off. 

That’s why, in my FERTILE IN FOUR™ program I provide a suite of tools to keep in your toolbox to help you manage stress for better fertility. 

 

Avoid Smoking and Limit Caffeine:

Smoking has been shown to reduce uterine blood flow, and excessive caffeine can constrict blood vessels, which may lead to a thinner uterine lining. Cutting back on both may improve your uterine health.

 

Cut back on high intensity exercise

Movement is helpful for increasing blood flow to the uterus, which could support a thicker uterine lining. 

However, this does not have to mean pounding the pavement for dozens of miles each week, or doing burpees til you drop. 

To improve blood flow to your uterus and support hormone balance, I recommend low-impact activities like walking or yoga, and some gentle strengthening exercises – like Barre or Pilates.


Acupuncture and massage

Acupuncture and massage can both improve blood flow to the uterus and promote relaxation for better hormone balance. 

 

Thicken your uterine lining for pregnancy – final thoughts

Once you have ruled out medical conditions, improving the thickness of your uterine lining involves a combination of diet and lifestyle changes for hormone balance. 

Even if you already eat a clean, healthy diet, you may not be getting all of the nutrients – like protein, healthy fats and vitamin E – needed for optimal uterine health. 

Even if you’re generally a healthy person, things like prolonged stress and excess exercise can take a toll on your reproductive health. 

Thankfully, with the right strategy in place, consistency and support, you can absolutely thicken your uterine lining for pregnancy – and you can do so naturally through diet and lifestyle. 

If you’re ready to balance your hormones, thicken your uterine lining for pregnancy, and make your body a welcoming home for baby-to-be – I can help you get (and stay!) pregnant!  

 

*If you use this affiliate link, you receive a discount and I receive a small kickback. I only recommend and form an affiliate relationships with products that I 100% believe to be the best. 

Contact me today to learn more or to start your fertility journey