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First of all, what is a retroverted uterus? Somewhere in the region of 20% (but possibly as many as 30%) of all women have a tilted or ‘retroverted’ uterus. Quite simply, all that both of these terms mean is that your uterus tilts backwards towards your spine, instead of the more usual ‘straight up and down,’ (or tilted forward) position that most women’s wombs are positioned in.
In the majority of cases, a ‘backwards uterus’ is genetic (meaning that it’s something that you are born with). It can sometimes be caused by adhesions, PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease) or even through childbirth, although these factors are less common. There is some evidence that it is more common in older women or women who have had multiple pregnancies.
Are there any tilted uterus symptoms? Well, the majority of women could go their whole life and be unaware that there is something different about the position of their womb. It can occasionally cause discomfort during intercourse, and some women experience painful periods, but this is not necessarily diagnostic.
During pregnancy, some women may experience lower back pain, which is usually annoying and uncomfortable, but not debilitating.
So what does this mean for you, your chances of conception and any pregnancy that follows?
Sex and a Retroverted Uterus
The great news is that having a tipped uterus should not affect your ability to have sex or your enjoyment of it. You may find that some positions which involve deep penetration mildly uncomfortable. However, if you experience the severe pain of any kind during intercourse, it’s time for a trip to the gynecologist as the position of your uterus is unlikely to be the source of the pain.
If you are experiencing mild discomfort during sex, you might find it beneficial to switch to positions which encourage more shallow penetration – try a modified version of the missionary position, with your legs close together for example.
Conception with a Tipped Uterus
Yet more great news – the position of your uterus should not affect your ability to conceive. It is important to know why your uterus is inverted in the first place, however, as some of the causes of a retroverted uterus can affect fertility. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is well known for causing issues with fertility if not treated quickly enough – it can cause issues with scarring and damage to the soft tissue of the womb and fallopian tubes, which will make conception more difficult. It can also cause abscesses in the tubes and uterus, which is obviously not good for you or your body and can also lead to delayed conception.
If you suspect that you have PID (or have any other concerns about your reproductive health), it is essential that you seek medical treatment as soon as possible. It can be treated with a short course of antibiotics, and as long as you do not delay in getting the treatment it is unlikely to cause any lasting damage.
There are many symptoms of PID, but you should look out for dull abdominal pain, unusual discharge, pain when urinating, high temperature and vomiting – regardless of the cause, if you experience any of these you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Having said all of that, if you already know that you have a retrograde uterus, and are confident that you have no other underlying health issues, then there is no reason that the position of your womb will make it any harder for you to conceive. In fact, if you are wondering how to get pregnant with a tilted uterus, the answer is “the same way everyone else does”!
Tilted Uterus Pregnancy
So, having conceived, is there anything that you should be concerned about during your pregnancy? Well, believe it or not, pregnancy might actually cause your uterus to tilt forward – even if it doesn’t, there is nothing to be concerned about and the position of your womb will not affect your pregnancy in an adverse manner.
Many midwives will tell you that around the 12th week of pregnancy (end of the first trimester), most women’s uteri will move back into the ‘normal’ position. This is usually permanent, and if it does occur, you will obviously have no further concerns about the effect that the position of your womb might have on your pregnancy!
Your retrograde uterus might be the source of some lower back pain in the first trimester of pregnancy, but having said that, this is something that many women experience during this stage of gestation anyway, so if back pain is a problem for you in early pregnancy, it probably doesn’t actually mean anything.
One, fortunately, uncommon retroverted uterus symptom during pregnancy is painful or delayed urination – happily, this usually resolves itself and can even be helped or ‘cured’ by the patient sleeping on her stomach for a night or two.
There is no reason to request treatment for a tilted uterus during pregnancy, and even if you were thinking about asking for it, there is nothing that any medical professional can do to alter the position of your womb.
Retroverted Uterus and Childbirth
The position of your uterus will have no effect on the duration, difficulty or complications of your labor. In fact, some women report that their retroverted uterus actually makes it less difficult to push (this evidence is completely anecdotal, however – it also usually involves women who have a tipped uterus following multiple births, so the ‘easy’ labors they mention could, in fact, be due to multiple other factors).
However, the fact remains that there should be nothing to worry about during childbirth. If your midwife or OBGYN has any concerns about your ability to give birth naturally, they will discuss them with you throughout your pregnancy, and you will have ample opportunity to make plans for caesarean section or other types of assisted birth if they are required.
So, What Does All of This Mean?
Well, simply that if you have been told that you have a retroverted uterus, you can probably stop worrying about the impact it will have on your ability to bear children.
It’s highly unlikely that a retrograde uterus will have any effect on your ability to conceive, carry a baby or give birth successfully – however, if you have concerns that your tipped uterus was caused by any kind of genito-urinary disease (such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease) it’s important that you consult a medical practitioner before attempting to get pregnant.
There is evidence that certain GU diseases can delay or even prevent conception, and in some cases cause difficulty during pregnancy and childbirth. If you have experienced any GU diseases, your gynecologist or physician will be able to advise you on whether this is likely to have an adverse effect on your pregnancy.
It’s important that you take advice from a qualified person on GU diseases, pregnancy, and childbirth, as it is not possible to ‘guess’ at the potential cause of infertility or complications during pregnancy. It will also put your mind at rest and allow you to enjoy your pregnancy in peace.
During pregnancy, if you do experience any symptoms, it is highly likely that they will fade or disappear after the first trimester – and it’s even possible that your uterus will reposition itself around the 12 week mark, meaning that your womb will actually be in the ‘normal’ position. Obviously, if this occurs, you will have no further concerns about the position of your uterus throughout the remainder of your gestation.
Finally, the uterine position has no bearing or effect on childbirth. In the event that your OBGYN or midwife feel like you are going to have a difficult labor, it’s probably not connected to the position of your uterus, and even if it was, they would discuss this with you and put plans into place to minimize the discomfort.
Some women report that having a tipped uterus actually makes childbirth easier, but this is not scientifically proven and is probably slightly unlikely. It’s more probable that their retroverted womb is the result of multiple pregnancies, which often makes childbirth easier in and of itself.
If after reading this, you still have concerns, it’s important to make an appointment with your health professional – particularly if you are experiencing what you believe are symptoms of a retroverted uterus.
Although it’s possible that painful periods, back pain or discomfort during sex could be signs of a dispositioned womb, they are also symptoms of a myriad of other illnesses, the majority of which are quick, easily and effectively treated.
If you are concerned that you might have a ‘dispositioned’ womb, the best course of action is to book an appointment with your medical professional as soon as possible, to discuss the impact on your reproductive health. They will be able to give you a physical exam and discuss the best options to improve the likelihood of conception based on your personal circumstances, put your mind at ease and refer you for further tests if required.