What is a bicornuate uterus? What does it mean for your body?

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Here's everything you need to know about a bicornuate uterus.

Being pregnant is one of life’s most exciting events but it is also packed with worries and concerns. There are so many things related to pregnancy that we all worry about having – incompetent cervix, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, etc.  

One rare condition that poses some risks during a pregnancy is called a bicornuate uterus.

It’s not common to hear about this condition as it affects only one to five out of 1000 women. Though there may be some undiagnosed and unreported cases, having a bicornuate uterus has some concerns with regards to a healthy pregnancy and birth, especially in the later stages.

What is a bicornuate uterus?

A bicornuate uterus is a congenital uterine abnormality which is also called as a “heart-shaped uterus”. It has two conjoined cavities unlike a normal uterus which only has one. There is a wall inside and a partial split outside.

A bicornuate uterus can be corrected surgically and there have been reports of successful full term births after this procedure.

bicornuate uterus

A “heart-shaped like” bicornuate uterus. | Source: Wikimedia

Pregnancy and risks

Due to the subtlety of symptoms, a woman with a bicornuate uterus usually knows about it only when she is pregnant. There are no reported difficulties in conception or early pregnancy but doctors consider this as a high risk pregnancy.

There are risks of miscarriages, a breech baby, placenta that is trapped or retained and preterm birth. These problems are due to the reduced uterine capacity caused by the irregular shape of the uterus or irregular uterine contractions.

Women who have a bicornuate uterus will need additional check-ups and monitoring throughout their pregnancy to detect any problems early on, and to minimize the risks. A caesarean birth is also recommended in these cases.

bicornuate uterus

A successful pregnancy with a bicornuate uterus. | Source: Pixabay

Some symptoms of a bicornuate uterus include:

  1. Irregular vaginal bleeding
  2. Pain/discomfort in the abdomen
  3. Painful periods
  4. Painful intercourse
  5. Repeated miscarriages

This is a condition that a woman is born with. When she is in her own mother’s womb, a uterine defect can occur causing the uterus to develop abnormally. Having a bicornuate uterus is a congenital abnormality which is impossible to prevent.

There are 5 ways to identify if a woman has a bicornuate uterus

  1. A pelvic exam – a physical examination of the external and internal female pelvic organs.
  2. An ultrasound – high frequency sound waves used to create an image of the uterus.
  3. Laparoscopy – a fibre-optic instrument that is inserted through the abdominal wall to view the organs.
  4. Hysterosalpingography (HSG) – an X-ray procedure that is used to view the inside of the uterus and Fallopian tubes.
  5. MRI scan – strong magnetic fields and radio waves are used to produce detailed images of the uterus.

 

bicornuate uterus

Consult your doctor if you think you have a bicornuate uterus. | Source: Pixabay

Treatment and options

Most women do not need treatment for a bicornuate uterus unless absolutely necessary, and if recommended by your doctor. Surgery is only required if you have had multiple miscarriages and if the condition of the uterus is the cause.

The 2 procedures are:

  1. Metroplasty surgery – a reconstructive surgery used to create a larger cavity in the uterus to support the growing baby.
  2. Cervical cerclage –  to improve fetal survival rate by sewing the cervix closed.

Problems such as miscarriage and preterm birth are more likely to occur in women who have this condition. If you have a bicornuate uterus and are planning to get pregnant or already pregnant, do consult your doctor and discuss the best options available to you. It is interesting what we learn about our bodies everyday.

Source: Medical News Today

Read also: Pregnancy concers: Being pregnant over 35

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Written by

evaloy