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General Medical Questions
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Question : I recently had an ultrasound. The reading suggested that the lining of my uterus was slightly thick. What does this mean? Does age matter? I am 59 years old.
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Joan Marie Bengtson, M.D., is assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproduction at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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June 01, 2012
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A:

When the uterine lining gets thicker, it is sometimes a sign of a health problem. So you should discuss it with your doctor.

The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium. During the menstrual cycle, the endometrium grows in response to estrogen being released from the ovaries. Toward the end of a menstrual cycle — when estrogen levels drop — the endometrium is shed through the vagina as your period. So in women who still get their period, the thickness of the lining will vary throughout the month.

But after menopause, the uterine lining should always be thin because it is no longer being stimulated by estrogen.

The endometrium may be thicker than normal for a couple reasons:

  • Often, it is due to the presence of a benign polyp or fibroid.
  • A more troubling reason is when an abnormal growth of endometrial cells — from either a precancerous process called hyperplasia or from uterine cancer — causes the thickness.

In most cases, your doctor will recommend a biopsy of the uterus to rule out the possibility of cancer.

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