The female body is such an interesting and often complicated machine, especially when it comes to reproduction. All of the “components” must work together, and their assignments align just so fertilization of one tiny, little egg occurs, and it implants successfully into the uterus, which is supple and waiting to nourish and grow that embryo into your baby. It’s all quite remarkable.
However, when things don’t go as they should there are any number of causes and after 12 months of unprotected sex (six if you’re over 35) with no results, it’s time to consult your doctor. When you do expect your doctor to order some tests. One of those tests may be an endometrial biopsy. Here we take a look at the details of testing.
The Role of The Endometrium
The uterus is the pear-shaped organ in your lower abdominal area where your baby grows and develops. Once fertilization occurs, an embryo forms and begins growing. The embryo implants in the lining of the uterus, also called the endometrium or endometrial tissue. When you are not pregnant, the lining sheds out of your body via your monthly period and regrows the next month, sheds, regrows and so on until pregnancy.
If the lining isn’t healthy enough to support the growing and developing fetus, the pregnancy will end in miscarriage. In some cases, the lining isn’t sufficient for implantation, and pregnancy doesn’t occur. Without a healthy uterine lining, there is no chance for pregnancy even with the healthiest embryo.
Doctors find fertility issues related to the uterus in 5% to 15% of couples who seek help. There are a few different reasons for uterine-related infertility and one of the ways to find out the reason is by performing an endometrial biopsy.
What is An Endometrial Biopsy
Your doctor performs an endometrial biopsy by taking cells from the lining of the uterus at a certain point in your cycle. Much like during your yearly gynecological exam your doctor uses a speculum to open up your vagina and view the cervix (opening of the uterus). Our doctor then inserts a very thin, very small catheter directly into your uterine cavity, through the cervix, and using suction, draws out some of the endometrial tissue.
The procedure takes under 30 minutes in your doctor’s office. Although some women experience slight cramping and even some spotting after removal of the tissue many only feel mildly uncomfortable. There’s no interruption to your normal routine when you have an endometrial biopsy.
Reasons For an Endometrial Biopsy
There are several reasons this diagnostic tool aids in identifying the reasons behind certain fertility issues, health concerns and even pinpointing the best timing for IVF success, as in an endometrial receptivity array (ERA). Here are just a few of the common conditions and reasons why your doctor may suggest an endometrial biopsy:
- Heavy or irregular periods which could indicate issues preventing implantation.
- Changes in hormone levels which may indicate abnormal tissue, uterine fibroids or polyps.
- Presence of infection such as endometriosis
- Symptoms pointing to uterine cancers.
- Recurrent miscarriages
- Presence of a bacterial infection which could lead to failed implantation.
- Implantation failure during IVF when PGT indicates healthy embryos.
- The best timeline for IVF success based on the receptivity of the endometrium for implantation.
What Kind of Treatment Comes After an Endometrial Biopsy?
Depending on what your endometrial biopsy indicates your doctor pinpoints a diagnosis and together you proceed with a treatment plan. Treatment may involve hormonal medications to boost your endometrial health, customizing the timeline for IVF, surgery to remove polyps, endometriosis or fibroids interfering with implantation, treating an infection or referral to an oncologist if your doctor detects cancer.
Do I Need an Endometrial Biopsy?
Sometimes after less invasive tests indicate a need, your doctor orders an endometrial biopsy. If you have any of the above symptoms or a predisposition to conditions such as endometriosis inform your doctor. As with any diagnostic tool the endometrial biopsy provides essential data in helping your doctor treat your infertility.
We Can Help
For more on how an endometrial biopsy, or any other tests, help you treat your fertility issues contact LA IVF today. You’ll find our caring and compassionate team ready to help you achieve your goal of growing your family.