As women, we know that we have a uterus. We may know a few things about the uterus, like it’s function and vague location, but there’s lot’s more to learn! With that in mind, here are five fascinating facts about the uterus we bet you haven’t yet discovered!
1. The uterus is usually pear-sized, but it can expand to the size of a watermelon. When you aren’t pregnant, your uterus is only about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide, although this size varies among women. Of course, if you do become pregnant, it starts to stretch, expanding to accommodate your growing fetus (it can reach the size of a large watermelon!) Given its ability to stretch, factors other than a baby can affect the size of your uterus. Fibroid tumors, for example, can cause your uterus to expand, mimicking the look of pregnancy even without conception.
2. Some women are born with more than one uterus. Although very rare, some women do have uterus didelphys, a congenital condition where two distinct uteruses develop (this was recently brought to life on a 2019 episode of Grey’s Anatomy.) Some women with this condition may also have two cervixes and two vaginas, but others may not have any external reflection of this condition, making it unlikely to be diagnosed until that woman wants to or becomes pregnant.
3. Sometimes, the uterus has bumps and tilts. Known as bicornuate or retroverted, some women have a uterus with two bumps that make it resemble a heart; others have a uterus that tilts forward or backward instead of straight up and down. Women with a heart-shaped (bicornuate) uterus are unlikely to experience symptoms, although carrying a baby to term may be more difficult. A retroverted uterus also shouldn’t effect your period or fertility, but sometimes it’s a symptom of another condition, like endometriosis or an infection.
4. Your uterus is vulnerable to cancer. Uterine cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States—and the seventh most common cause of cancer-related death in this country. And, according to the CDC, it’s becoming even more common: in fact, women who carry extra weight are up to four times more likely to develop uterine cancer, and we all know that obesity has become a national concern. Why does weight increase your risk of uterine cancer? Obesity effects your hormone levels, because fat cells have high levels of estrogen, and estrogen increases your risk of this kind of cancer.
5. Removing your uterus is not always the answer. Many women are told to undergo a hysterectomy, even if they are dealing with non-cancerous conditions like fibroids or adenomyosis. But removing your uterus can affect more than just your reproductive health, so before undergoing this major surgery, it’s crucial to explore less invasive treatment options like Uterine Fibroid Embolization.
Sources: yahoo.com, cdc.gov