Many women including myself have swayed through life not understanding why we suffer from health disparities. We often face issues like PCOS: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PMS, Fibroids, experience miscarriages, and infertility for years without understanding why and usually are told to treat the pain and discomfort with drugs rather than being educated about the cause of the syndrome and encouraged to create a lifestyle suited for our personal predispositions.
An exam may be necessary
I was once lucky enough to have visited the most prestigious Emergency room I have ever been to. While living in Thomasville, NC when I started feeling lower abdominal pain in fear of it being cyst like I’ve had before, I was referred to an OB-GYN that was adequately trained. This OB was doing my follow up and wanted to thoroughly exam my pelvis to understand why I was having pain near my ovaries. After I mentioned having once suffered a horrific burst of an ovarian cyst that left me on bed rest for almost a month; She wanted to rule out all worst case scenarios. This doctor felt a sonogram was not sufficient therefore she went on to perform a vaginal sonogram on me. It was a bit nerve wrecking for me because I was not sexually active at the time but the information she provided me with during this exam made the whole examination worth it. My boyfriend at the time held my hand through the exam and made the experience less dreadful. This doctor proceeded to educate me about my uterus being retroverted.
A retroverted uterus (tilted uterus, tipped uterus) is auterus that is tilted posteriorly. This is in contrast to the slightly “anteverted” uterus that most women have, which is tipped forward toward the bladder, with the anterior end slightly concave.
Generally, a retroverted uterus does not cause any problems. If problems do occur, it will probably be because the woman has an associated disorder like endometriosis. A disorder like this could cause the following symptoms:
- Painful sexual intercourse
- The woman-on-top position during sex usually causes the most discomfort
- Period pain (particularly if the retroversion is associated with endometriosis).
- Natural variation – generally, the uterus moves into a forward tilt as the woman matures. Sometimes, this doesn’t happen and the uterus remains tipped backwards.
- Adhesions – an adhesion is a band of scar tissue that joins two (usually) separate anatomic surfaces together. Pelvic surgery can cause adhesions to form, which can then pull the uterus into a retroverted position.
- Endometriosis – the endometrium is the lining of the uterus. Endometriosis is the growth of endometrial cells outside the uterus. These cells can cause retroversion by ‘gluing’ the uterus to other pelvic structures.
- Fibroids – these small, non-cancerous lumps can make the uterus susceptible to tipping backwards.
- Pregnancy – the uterus is held in place by bands of connective tissue called ligaments. Pregnancy can overstretch these ligaments and allow the uterus to tip backwards. In most cases, the uterus returns to its normal forward position after childbirth, but sometimes it doesn’t.
In most cases of retroverted uterus, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are tipped backwards too. This means that all of these structures can be ‘butted’ by the head of the penis during intercourse. This is known as ‘collision dyspareunia’. The woman-on-top position usually causes the most pain. It is possible for vigorous sex in this position to injure or tear the ligaments surrounding the uterus.
In most cases, a retroverted uterus doesn’t interfere with pregnancy. After the first trimester, the expanding uterus lifts out of the pelvis and, for the remainder of the pregnancy, assumes the typical forward-tipped position.
In a small percentage of cases, the growing uterus is ‘snagged’ on pelvic bone (usually the sacrum). This condition is known as ‘incarcerated uterus’. The symptoms usually occur somewhere between weeks 12 and 14, and can include pain and difficulties passing urine.
- A retroverted uterus means the uterus is tipped backwards so that it aims towards the rectum instead of forward towards the belly.
- Some women may experience symptoms including painful sex.
- In most cases, a retroverted uterus won’t cause any problems during pregnancy.
- Treatment options include exercises, a pessary or surgery.
Since learning about being with a retroverted uterus I realized how my physiology differed from other women. 1 in 6 women are born with a retroverted uterus. Some may live their wholes lives not knowing unless they inquire to find out or they experience some of the disparities I was dealt. Some of the causes are, painful sex, yeast infections due to high levels of acid in your ph., and painful periods. Some women learn about having this, way into their pregnancy and if their lucky enough they will have a Doula, who will instruct them on how to minimize the nausea episodes and perhaps provide some insight on why it is detrimental to eat the right foods for a more comfortable and easy going pregnancy.
It is very important to understand that our body parts are not separated. We often lose sight of the truth being that everything is connected and in tuned especially when we are not in tuned with our own bodies. We often pop a pill an ignore aches and pains when it can very well be our body telling us to pay attention BEFORE something goes wrong. I was grateful to have learned about my beautifully unique uterus because I was able to change my diet and life style in order to prevent things like fibroids, endometriosis, PMS and more. I learned early that my diet effects my PH-balance and if my PH (hormones) are off then my body becomes a home for disease and ailments especially when I am already sensitive because of the way I was created.
Before we continue our lives not knowing how magical and intricate our bodies are I hope we can all become a bit more curious about our Uterus’ and how different they can all be. Perhaps now we can tend to our personal needs as women and not be shocked when sudden issues begin to effect our health during our child bearing years.
The good news is that in most cases it is possible to have a baby if you have one of these uterine abnormalities:
This is an uncommon abnormality where the uterus has two inner cavities. Each cavity may lead to its own cervix and vagina. This means there are two cervixes and two vaginas. It affects about one in 350 women.
A unicornuate uterus is half the size of a normal uterus and there is only one fallopian tube. Because of its shape, it is described as a uterus with one horn. It is a rare abnormality, affecting about one in 1,000 women. It develops in the earliest stages of life, when the tissue that forms the uterus does not grow properly. If you have a unicornuate uterus, you probably have two ovaries but only one will be connected to your uterus.
Instead of being pear-shaped, this type of uterus looks more like a heart, with a deep indentation at the top. It is called a uterus with two horns, because of its shape. It’s thought that fewer than one woman in 200 women has a bicornuate uterus.
This is where the inside of the uterus is divided by a muscular or fibrous wall, called the septum. About one woman in 45 women is affected. The septum may extend only part way into the uterus (partial septate uterus) or it may reach as far as the cervix (complete septate uterus). Partial or subseptates are more common than complete septates. A septate uterus may make it more difficult for you to conceive.
This looks more like a normal uterus, except it has a dip, or slight indentation at the top. It is a common abnormality, affecting about a quarter of women.
About one in six women have a uterus that tilts backwards toward the spine (retroverted uterus). This is not an abnormality. It won’t affect how your baby grows, although it may mean your bump starts to show later than for other women.