Abnormalities in the uterus – or womb – occur when the uterus fails to develop properly. There’s nothing you can do to prevent an abnormality and they often go undetected and don’t affect your day-to-day life. The time when a uterine abnormality could affect you is during pregnancy.
Although it shouldn’t jeopardise your chances of getting pregnant, it could make it difficult for you to carry your baby for the full nine months, and sadly, the risk of miscarriage is greater. It could also mean you need a caesarean when it comes to the birth.
There are a number of different abnormalities of the uterus – some more severe than others.
Instead of the uterus being a normal upside-down pear-shape, a bicornuate uterus is heart-shaped and often referred to as the uterus with two horns because of the deep dip in the top.
A unicornuate uterus is banana-shaped with a single fallopian tube. If you have a unicornuate uterus, there’s a good chance you’ll still have two ovaries but only one will be connected to your uterus.
This is an extremely rare abnormality where the uterus has split into two, with each part leading to its own cervix and vagina – meaning there are two cervixes and two vaginas.
In a septate uterus, a wall or septum partially or fully divides the uterus into two separate cavities. Partial septates are more common than complete septates.
This is the mildest form of abnormality and actually looks fairly similar to a normal uterus, except it has a slight dip or arc at the top.
How an abnormal uterus will affect your pregnancy
How much an abnormality of the uterus affects your pregnancy really depends on the extent of the abnormality, but you do sadly have a higher chance of having a miscarriage with all types.
As well as the risk of miscarriage increasing if you have uterine abnormalities, there’s also a greater chance you’ll experience other complications during pregnancy and birth.
Because of the unusual shape of an abnormal uterus, your baby might not settle into the regular head-down position, and he or she could get into a bottom-down, breech position or a crossways, transverse position at some point during the nine months of pregnancy. If this is the case, you will be offered a caesarean as this is thought to be the safest way to deliver your baby.
There’s a possibility your waters might break early and you could go into premature labour. This is simply because there could come a point where your baby has no more room left to grow in your womb. Another cause of premature labour in women with uterine abnormalities is to do with your cervix. If your cervix is no longer strong enough to keep your baby inside – also known as an incompetent cervix – it will simply open. This is usually more of a problem for women carrying their first baby. The more babies you have, the stronger your cervix will become.
How an abnormal uterus will affect you
An abnormal uterus shouldn’t affect your health during pregnancy but it could leave you feeling stressed and anxious about your unborn baby. There is very little you can do for your baby, except trying to stay calm and relaxed – though we know that’s tough.
Make sure you attend all of your antenatal appointments, as your doctor will closely monitor you to make sure everything is going as smoothly as possible. If you have any worries, speak to your doctor or midwife, as he or she will be able to give you the best advice.
Read up on the signs of premature labour, so you can get to a hospital as soon as you think you might be in labour. And don’t worry about raising a false alarm – it’s always better to be safe than sorry.