What Is the Endometrial Stripe?
The endometrial stripe is a thin layer of tissue that lines the inside of your uterus (endometrium). It’s called an “endometrial” because it contains cells from both sides of your uterine cavity. You may have seen this strip along with other types of bleeding at times when you’ve had periods or even after childbirth.
It’s not uncommon for women to experience irregular periods during their reproductive years. A woman’s menstrual cycle varies depending on her age, genetics, lifestyle habits and many other factors. Sometimes there are no obvious signs of menstruation; sometimes it lasts several days long or even weeks. Other times the period comes every month or two and is heavier than usual.
Some women have periods that last all year round.
Some women don’t notice any changes in their menstrual cycles until they’re older. Others start noticing them around the time of menopause. Women who haven’t yet reached menopause often wonder if they’ll ever get their periods again. They worry about possible health risks associated with not having regular periods, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy or cancer of the ovaries and/or fallopian tubes.
To provide some reassurance, here’s what you need to know about loss of periods:
• You’re not necessarily infertile. Many women stop having periods in their 40s and 50s without any problems at all with getting pregnant. As long as you still have a menstrual cycle, you can get pregnant. If your periods have stopped and haven’t returned within a year, see your doctor or gynecologist about getting tested for fertility.
If you’re still having irregular periods, see your doctor or gynecologist to find out why and whether it’s causing any health risks for you.
• There are many possible causes for loss of periods. And many of those causes have nothing to do with your fertility. It’s possible that you may just be one of the many women who experience loss of periods as she gets older.
Even if you are experiencing loss of periods, there are still many good reasons to see a doctor or gynecologist. Here are some common reasons for why a woman may stop having periods:
1. Changes in hormone levels.
Changes in the amount of estrogen, progesterone or testosterone can cause changes in your periods. It could be something as simple as fluctuations in your weight, which affects the amount of hormones your body is producing.
2. Stress or distraction.
Any major emotional trauma or stress can cause you to stop having periods. This is more common in teenagers and young women who still live at home. When your mind and body are focused on something else, it takes priority over everything else, including your menstrual cycle.
Any major changes to your hormones can also cause your periods to stop; for example, if you’re starting hormone therapy of any kind, you may experience a change in your periods. This can also happen if you’re prescribed the “morning after” pill in the rare event that you have unprotected sexual contact that puts you at risk of pregnancy.
This is a very obvious one, and unlikely if you’ve had unprotected sexual contact in the past year and your periods haven’t returned. However, it is one possible explanation and definitely warrants a trip to the doctor or gynecologist.
Again, unlikely if you’re in your 40s or 50s and your periods haven’t returned.
6. Thyroid disease.
If you have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), that can cause your periods to become erratic or even stop altogether.
7. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
This is a common hormonal condition that affects women of childbearing age, causing them to stop having periods and making it difficult or impossible to get pregnant. It also causes problems with weight gain and insulin resistance, which may lead to type 2 diabetes.
8. Other medical conditions.
There are many other medical conditions that can cause your periods to go haywire, including liver or kidney disease, systemic cancer, AIDS, and more.
9. Certain medications.
Some medications, such as some birth control pills and anti-seizure medications, can also cause changes in the regularity of your periods or even cause them to stop altogether.
10. You’re a teen who’s going through puberty. This is rare, but it does happen.
If you’re concerned about any of these reasons, or you have a medical condition that you suspect might be causing irregular periods (like thyroid disease), then see your doctor or gynecologist. If you’ve recently lost a significant amount of weight, or you’ve just started a new medication, it might be best to wait a few months before getting tested to see if the irregularity in your periods is only temporary.
This website has some interesting information on women’s hormone cycles if you’re interested: (LINK REMOVED) pubs/fact-sheets/menstruation.html
Excellent information on women’s hormonal disorders can be found here: (LINK REMOVED)
And a great overview of all the common female reproductive system diseases can be found here: (LINK REMOVED)
Good luck. Leave me some more information if you get the chance and let me know how things turn out for you.
Sources & references used in this article:
Endometrial stripe thickness as a predictor of ectopic pregnancy by SD Spandorfer, KT Barnhart – Fertility and sterility, 1996 – Elsevier
Detection of benign endometrial masses by endometrial stripe measurement in premenopausal women by DM Breitkopf, RA Frederickson… – Obstetrics & …, 2004 – journals.lww.com
Reliability of intraobserver and interobserver sonographic endometrial stripe thickness measurements by SD Spandorfer, F Arrendondo-Soberon, JRL De Mola… – Fertility and sterility, 1998 – Elsevier