Mentioning endometrium means we are discussing subject related to female uterus. Endometrium is the inner lining of the uterus, which becomes thick every month in anticipation of embedding the fertilized female egg. However, if the woman does not become pregnant, the endometrium (lining) is shed and this results in bleeding from the uterus. Bleeding during this period is called menstruation. Approximately after every 28 to 30 days the whole cycle is repeated.
Menstruation is controlled by two hormones namely estrogen and progesterone. When there is imbalance between these hormones or if there is excess secretion of estrogen hormone, it causes abnormal thickening of cellular lining of the uterus, which we refer to as thickened endometrium.
What Causes Thickening Of The Endometrial Lining?
Thickened endometrium is also known as endometrial hyperplasia. Since endometrial hyperplasia is connected with hormones, the condition is more common during menopausal phase. Estrogen is required to buildup the uterus lining and progesterone supports it. When there is excessive secretion of estrogen with insufficient progesterone level, there is abundant overgrowth of endometrial cells resulting in abnormal thickening of endometrium.
Thickening suggests the ongoing process of excess secretion of estrogen.
Symptoms Of Thickened Endometrium
The common symptom of endometrial thickening is heavy bleeding during menstrual period. Together with bleeding there may be shedding of big clots. Menstrual bleeding may persist for many days. Pain in pelvis and abdomen may be associated with endometrial thickening. Abnormal bleeding after menopause or spotting after menopause should be considered as abnormal symptom.
Endometrial thickening by itself is not cancerous, but the risk of developing precancerous cells is high. For this reason women with abnormal endometrial thickening, require to be treated and monitored, especially in pre-menopause and menopause phase. Endometrial thickening can be diagnosed with the help of ultrasound and evaluation of the symptoms. Once it is diagnosed, the gynecologist may perform endometrial biopsy. The biopsy material will be sent to the laboratory for testing and confirming whether it is cancerous or non cancerous.
Treatment For Endometrial Thickness
The treatment of endometrial thickening depends on the age at which it occurs, and how severe the symptoms are. If it occurs at younger age and the women is still in her child bearing age, most of the time they are treated with medicines. If the woman is nearing her menopause or if she is in her menopause, hormone replacement therapy consisting of progesterone may be helpful.
However, long term therapy may be contraindicated because it may increase the risk of breast cancer and heart disease. This aspect of treatment has to be discussed with the doctor while taking hormone replacement therapy. When conventional treatment is not satisfactory, the other option is hysterectomy.
Sometime, endometrial thickening may lead to Uterus cancer, if a woman does not prefer to undergo hysterectomy, a regular follow up and monitoring with her doctor is always advisable.