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WHAT IS A UTERUS?
The uterus is the medical term for the womb and it is also the Latin word for womb. A typical uterus is about the size and shape of an inverted pear. The uterus sits quite low in the abdomen and is held in position by muscles, ligaments and fibrous tissues. The uterus is joined to the vagina by the cervix, commonly referred to as the neck of the uterus. It is connected at the other end to the Fallopian tubes. It is within the uterus that the fetus develops during gestation.[/two_third]
UTERUS AND PERIODS
Each month the female body secretes hormones that causes ovulation in women of reproductive age. This process includes release of an egg from the ovary and periods (menstruation). The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium and is made of several layers that include surface epithelium, blood vessels, glands, and other tissues.
Each month the endometrium grows thicker to prepare for pregnancy and this process is synchronized with ovulation. If a woman does not become pregnant, the top layers of the endometrium with blood from the blood vessels are shed. These flow out through the vagina as the monthly period. Once a woman reaches menopause, the body stops production of hormones that cause ovulation and periods. Menopause happens around 52 years of age, although just like the start of menstruation, called menarche, this age differs from person to person.
FUNCTIONS OF THE UTERUS
Common functions of the uterus include nurturing fertilized ovum that develop into the fetus and holding it until the baby is mature enough for birth. The fertilized ovum is implanted into the endometrium to derive nourishment from blood vessels, which develop exclusively for this purpose. The fertilized ovum becomes an embryo, develops into a fetus, and continues developing until childbirth.
Additionally, the uterus provides structural integrity and support to the bladder, bowel, pelvic bones and organs. Commonly, pregnant women will comment that their kicking baby will press on her bladder causing a sudden need to urinate, this is due in part because the womb expands over the bladder.
The networks of blood vessels and nerves of the uterus directs blood flow to the pelvis and to the external genitalia, including the ovaries, vagina, labia, and clitoris for sexual response. The uterus is also needed for uterine orgasm to occur.
Certain conditions, abnormalities, or defects in your uterus can cause problems, chronic pain, and challenges before/during pregnancy.
- Uterine fibroids
- Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths made of muscle tissue in the uterus and are an acquired uterine condition. You not born with fibroids; instead, they develop later in life. Treatments include prescription management and surgery, a myomectomy.
- Uterine polyps are growths attached to the inner wall of the uterus. Overgrowth of cells in the lining of the uterus (endometrium) leads to the formation of uterine polyps, also known as endometrial polyps. These polyps are usually benign, although some can be cancerous or can eventually turn into cancer (precancerous polyps). They are more common in women of menopause age, although younger women can get polyps.
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Chronic pelvic pain is a complex condition which may have multiple causes. Sometimes, a single disorder may be identified as the cause. In other cases, however, pain may be the result of multiple medical conditions. If you have sharp pelvic pain, we do recommend coming to see one our women’s health specialists as soon as possible.
- A miscarriage is the loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. The medical term for a miscarriage is spontaneous abortion, but “spontaneous” is important because the condition is not an abortion performed as a medical procedure.