Uterus Abnormalities during Pregnancy

The uterus is often known as the first home to the unborn child. However, a misshaped uterus can cause complications at any stage of the pregnancy such as a miscarriage or a premature birth. Many first-time mothers have no idea that they have an abnormality in their uterus as prior to that it has never caused any issue. The information that they have an abnormal uterus has an emotional impact on the mother to be as many of them are caught off guard.

A womb or uterus is a pear-shaped organ in a woman’s pelvic region. Generally, it is 3 inches long, 2 inches wide and 1 inch deep. The narrow lower part of the uterus is towards the end of the vagina and it is called a cervix and the wider upper part is called fundus. The fertilized egg matures into a baby in the fundus. In some women, the shape of the uterus or womb varies from the normal standards. This condition is called abnormality of the uterus.

What Are Abnormalities of the Uterus?

Many times, women get to know about their uterine abnormality only when they plan to get pregnant. It is also difficult to determine the exact number of women who have an abnormal uterus as women do not even know that they have this condition until they try to have a baby. The number of women having uterine abnormalities may range from 1 in 20 to 1 in 100.

Where some abnormalities are present from birth, other abnormalities develop during the adolescent years. It is not a condition which can be prevented but with proper guidance and knowledge, one can ward off various complications that may arise during pregnancy.

How Does the Uterus Change?

Once you become pregnant, the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall. The uterus grows as the pregnancy progresses to accommodate a growing baby. The uterus reaches the height of your naval by the second trimester and by the third trimester, it reaches up to your rib cage. Therefore, a uterus size increases during the pregnancy. Towards the end of the pregnancy, the uterus becomes a size of a big pumpkin or watermelon.

Can I Conceive if I Have Abnormal Uterus?

In some women, the uterus does not develop in a normal shape or it can be said that these women have an abnormal uterus. Though having an abnormal uterus does not mean that you cannot get pregnant but there might be few complications that may arise such as a miscarriage or caesarean deliveries.

Different Types of Uterus Abnormalities

Uterine abnormalities do not necessarily mean that a woman will not be able to have a healthy pregnancy. It entirely depends on the severity of the abnormality. In most cases, uterine abnormality does not affect your ability to become pregnant. Though, the main concern that may arise is the difficulty in carrying the baby in the uterus for whole nine months. Let us know about various uterus abnormalities or various shapes of the uterus:

  • Bicornuate uterus

This abnormality results in a heart shaped uterus rather than a pear-shaped one. With a deep indentation at the top, this uterus looks like a set of horns. One in 200 women may have this kind of condition.

  • Septate uterus

A muscular barrier or fibrous wall known as septum divides the uterus. The division may be partial (partial septate uterus) or complete (complete septate uterus) where it reaches the cervix. Partial septate is more common in women. Septate uterus may make it difficult for you to conceive.

  • Arcuate uterus

Arcuate uterus is almost like a normal uterus but it has a slight indentation or dip at the top of the uterus. It is a very common type of uterine abnormality and most of the times do not cause any problems during pregnancy.

  • Unicornuate uterus

In this uterine abnormality, a uterus is almost half the size of a normal uterus. There is only one fallopian tube present and the shape of the uterus appears like a single horn. This is a rare abnormality and 1 in 1000 women may have this condition.

  • Uterus didelphys

This condition results in two inner cavities with each cavity having its separate vagina and cervix. This rare abnormality with two cervixes and two vaginas may affect 1 in every 350 women.                                                                                                                

Can You Get Pregnant With an Abnormal Uterus?

Getting pregnant is not difficult if you have an abnormal uterus. It majorly depends on the severity of your abnormality. If you have a mild abnormality in your uterus, you may enjoy a hassle-free pregnancy and childbirth. Many women come to know about their condition during a gynaecological exam or an ultrasound scan only. Thus, you can get pregnant even if you have an abnormal uterus.

How an Abnormal Uterus Affects Pregnant Women

The extent of your abnormality dictates the degree of complication. Following may happen:

  • Miscarriage – Certain uterus abnormalities such as septate uterus may cause miscarriage.
  • Early labour – In conditions where the uterus is not big enough to hold a baby, the condition may lead to premature labour.
  • Caesarean delivery Where the uterus is of unusual shape and it becomes difficult to deliver a baby normally, a C-section may be needed.
  • Late miscarriage A weak cervix resulting from some uterine abnormalities may lead to a late miscarriage.

Common Treatment of Uterine Abnormalities

Uterine abnormalities are generally diagnosed during an ultrasound scan, laparoscopy or physical examination. Once the abnormality is established, your doctor may advise you following:

  • You may be advised for a cervical cerclage (a stitch in the cervix) if there is a threat of preterm labour.
  • In case of a unicornuate uterus, the surgical removal of obstructed hemi-uterus can be done if the other side is functional.
  • Most cases of abnormalities that do not cause major complications and can be corrected by minimal surgical intervention. If the abnormality isn’t posing any pain or threat to your unborn child, your doctor may not require any treatment for the abnormality.

How to Manage Your Pregnancy with Abnormal Uterus

It is normal for you to feel anxious after knowing about abnormalities in uterus but you need stay calm and relaxed. If you notice any symptoms of uterine abnormalities or abnormal uterine bleeding like a bicornuate or unicornuate uterus, you should report to your health care practitioner immediately. Your doctor may advise an ultrasound to detect uterus abnormalities to know more about your condition and then suggest treatment for the same. Many uterine abnormalities and displacements can be treated with medicinal or surgical intervention for a healthy pregnancy. It is also important for you to attend all your antenatal appointments with your doctor to get an update on your condition. If any symptoms or signs of preterm labour are noticed, you must report it to your doctor or seek immediate medical help. Any history of miscarriage should also be intimated to avoid any complications.

Conclusion: Abnormality in your uterus during pregnancy is a matter of concern as it may affect your baby. It is quite common among woman and may lead to a complicated childbirth. Therefore, once you know about your abnormality, it is recommended to exercise caution during pregnancy and get the suggested medical help by your healthcare practitioner.