Misshapen uterus. Uterine malformation. Uterine anomalies. It is known as many things but describes the same condition.
It’s a malformation of the uterus that women are born with, meaning it develops during embryonic life. In technical terms: the Mullerian ducts, which are the initial development of the fallopian tubes, uterus, the uterine cervix, and the superior aspect of the vagina, fail to form a normal uterine cavity.
In a nut shell, the uterus grows abnormally when a baby is inside her mom’s womb.
Read on to learn more about the different types of uterine anomalies, plus information on living with a misshapen uterus and pregnancy.
Types of uterine anomalies
As mentioned above, a misshapen uterus is a congenital condition in which the uterus develops abnormally. According to the March of Dimes, uterine anomalies occur in about 3% of women.
There are a few different ways this condition can occur. The different types of anomalies include:
(As a note, the endometrial cavity is made of the uterine tissue lining and is where a fetus grows.)
- Septate: a thin septum divides the uterus, partially or completely
- Bicornuate: often called heart-shaped uterus, an indented outer uterine surface and two endometrial cavities
- Arcuate: a normal outer uterine surface with a 1 cm or less opening to the endometrial cavity
- Unicornuate: only one side of the uterus has formed
- Didelphys: the two halves of the uterus are separate, resulting in two small endometrial cavities. (Duplication of cervix and vaginal canal may also be present. Interesting fact: With duplication of cervix, each one requires a pap smear.)
Septate and bicornuate are the most common types of abnormalities. In addition, a septate uterus is the one most likely to cause repeat miscarriages. We’ll dig deeper into this below.
Symptoms and diagnosis for uterine anomalies
For many with uterine anomalies, there are no symptoms. The condition may not be discovered until a woman’s pregnancy.
However, some women do experience some discomfort and other symptoms, including:
- Irregular vaginal bleeding
- Painful periods
- Pain with intercourse
- Repeated miscarriages
If a uterine abnormality is suspected, there are several ways that it can be diagnosed. These include ultrasound, MRI, hysterosalpingogram (an X-ray of the uterus using special dye) or pelvic exam.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is recommended that an ultrasound is performed to help diagnose a misshapen uterus. If you are hoping to get pregnant, it is important to be proactive in addressing any of the above symptoms before becoming pregnant. In addition, anyone who has had two miscarriages in a row should have an ultrasound to determine if there’s a uterine abnormality.
If a misshapen uterus is found before pregnancy, it is removal of the septum is recommended. If the condition is discovered during pregnancy, the pregnancy will be closely monitored. This includes regular OBGYN visits, ultrasounds and lab work. On the plus side, additional monitoring means the baby will be seen and heard more by the expectant parents.
Treatment for uterine anomalies
For the majority of women with a misshapen uterus, treatment is not needed. However, if a septate uterus or two vaginal canals are discovered, or a woman experiences debilitating periods or multiple miscarriages, surgical intervention to correct the shape of the uterus is recommended.
Is it possible to get pregnant with a misshapen uterus?
Having a septate uterus can make it difficult to get pregnant, but not impossible.
In addition, it does increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and slow growth of baby if the shape of the uterus is not treated before pregnancy. Baby is also more likely to settle in a breech position, which may result in a c-section.
As mentioned above, it is best for both mom and baby to treat a septate uterus before pregnancy. However, if an abnormal uterus is discovered during pregnancy, your pregnancy will be closely monitored with regular ultrasounds and doctor visits.
Misshapen uterus and pregnancy: It’s possible!
Although discovering a misshapen uterus can be disheartening, it’s important to remember that most women with uterine abnormalities have healthy pregnancies and babies. With the right monitoring and treatment, a woman with a uterine abnormality can still have a healthy baby.
Do you suspect you have a uterine abnormality? Contact us today to learn more about your treatment options.