By: Dr. Spence Pentland (Vancouver Fertility Acupuncturist)
One of the major causes of infertility and IVF failure is a thin uterine lining, inadequate blood flow to the uterus, i.e. low uterine artery pulsatility index. Treatment to increase blood flow is essential to improving fertility and reducing chances of miscarriage. It should be noted that stress, lack of exercise, not enough rest, lack of joy, and certain foods all can inhibit blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. The following are effective treatments for a thin endometrial lining;
Acupuncture. An area of research, as well as my own experience, has shown extreme effectiveness with acupuncture and its affect on the increase of blood flow to the reproductive organs (uterus, ovaries, testis). This may very well be a primary reason that acupuncture displays benefit to women going through IVF fertility treatments in Vancouver. Simply, blood bring the medications to the ovaries and uterus, and if the flow is unimpeded, then more IVF medications arrive at their intended destination which results in better responses and positive outcomes.
Chinese herbal medicine. Many of the herbals in the Chinese medicine pharmacy have the effect of increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs. Many are said to ‘quicken and invigorate blood’. Others ‘nourish and build blood’. Science is now showing that many of these herbs have the identical physiological effects of Viagra (Sildenafil), a drug well known for its effect on erectile health. This drug, and the mentioned herbs, simply increase blood flow to the uterus, ovaries, and penis (causing erections) via the increase of Nitric Oxide release, a substance that dilates blood vessels.
Femoral massage. Perform from end of menses to ovulation or retrieval date if undergoing IVF. Do 2-3 times each leg (separately), 1-2 times per day. This massage increases the blood flow to the pelvic organs, providing more nourishment to the uterus and ovaries, testes and penis. Compress the femoral artery with your fingers, fairly heavy pressure will be required. When you feel the flow has ceased, hold for 30 seconds. The femoral artery can be located level with your pubic bone, just beneath the crease in your groin between your thigh and lower abdomen. The blood will then back up and increase the pressure gradient in the iliac arteries which forces more blood into the pelvic arteries. This floods the pelvic organs and genitals with more blood. When the hold is released, you should feel a sensation of warmth rushing down your legs as the blood supply returns to the lower extremities. Do not perform this exercise if you: are pregnant, are post-transfer during an IVF cycle, have high blood pressure, have heart disease or circulatory problems (aneurisms, varicose veins, phlebitis, thrombosis), have a history of strokes, or detached retinas.
Castor Oil Pack. A castor oil pack is placed on the skin to increase circulation and to promote elimination and healing of the tissues and organs underneath the skin. It is used to stimulate the liver, relieve pain, increase lymphatic circulation, reduce inflammation, and improve digestion. Castor oil packs are made by soaking a piece of flannel in castor oil and placing it on the skin. The flannel is covered with a sheet of plastic, and then a hot water bottle is placed over the plastic to heat the pack. Castor oil should not be taken internally. It should not be applied to broken skin, or used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. METHOD: Place the flannel in the container. Soak it in castor oil so that it is saturated, but not dripping. Place the pack over the lower abdomen, above the uterus. Cover with plastic. Place the hot water bottle over the pack. Leave it on for 45-60 minutes. Rest while the pack is in place. After removing the pack, cleanse the area with a dilute solution of water and baking soda. Store the pack in the covered container in the refrigerator. Each pack may be reused up to 25- 30 times. NOTE: It is generally recommended that a castor oil pack be used for 3 to 7 days in a week to treat a health condition or for detox. best if the packs are used on alternating days for the first week. After that, usually the packs may be used on consecutive days from that point on. 30-60 min per use.
Food. Here are a few dietary principles you can implement to help create a thick uterine lining; Avoid sour food when bleeding (yogurt, vinegar, pickles, grapefruit, currants, and green apples. Eat more blood nourishing foods when bleeding such as eggs, carrots, spinach, dates, & goji berries. Consume more blood invigorating foods when bleeding such as fish, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric. Click here to watch a short video about foods that help and hinder blood flow to the uterus and can help in the treatment of a thin endometrial lining.