Where do children come from? All parents eventually get this question. There are many different ways to explain the complicated process of forming of a new life to a child, but our answer is a short and precise—children come from the uterus.
No other organ in the human body as flexible and changeable as the uterus! Over the course of a pregnancy it can expand from the size of a large plum to the size of a watermelon, and then return to normal after childbirth.
The uterus, or womb, is part of the female reproductive system—unique to women. This hollow organ lies within the pelvis, shaped like an upside-down pear.
Structure and position
The uterus is a thick-walled organ that is especially stretchy and muscular. This is where the foetus (developing baby) grows when a woman’s egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm and implants itself into the uterine wall.
The uterus lies between the urinary bladder in the front and the sigmoid colon in the back.
The body of the uterus (corpus uteri) includes:
the fundus—situated above the point where the fallopian tubes enter the uterus
the uterine cavity—the hollow in which the foetus develops
the isthmus—a narrowing at the base of the uterus
The uterine wall is made up of three layers:
the perimetrium, or outer layer of the uterus, envelops the body of the uterus and part of the cervix (2mm thick)
the myometrium, or intermediate layer, consists of smooth muscle fibres arranged in longitudinal, circular, and spiral patterns, and connective tissue (15mm)
the endometrium, or inner lining of the uterus, is made of mucosal tissue (6 to 16 mm, depending on the stage of the menstrual cycle)
The cervix also has several named parts:
The endocervix or endocervical canal is the passage that connects the uterus to the vagina
The internal os is the opening in the middle of cervix that leads to the uterus
The ectocervix is the passage between the uterus and vagina
The external os or cervical canal is the space in the centre of the ectocervix
The uterus is often compared to a nest or bed in which an unborn baby sleeps until its birth. The endometrium, then, can be compared to the bedsheets, which must be changed regularly.
If no fertilized egg has implanted in the uterine wall, each month the endometrium breaks down and is expelled from the body as period secretions and fresh new layer begins to form.
The uterus has three main functions that support the development of a baby:
it protects the foetus from physical damage
it provides nutritional support so that the foetus can develop properly
it manages waste removal, keeping the space around the foetus clean
The uterus during pregnancy
The uterus grows dramatically during pregnancy. During the first trimester, the uterus reaches the size of a grapefruit and fits within the pelvis.
In the second trimester, the uterus grows to about the size of a papaya and no longer fits in the pelvis—the top edge reaches to about midway between the navel and the breasts.
As the uterus grows, it displaces the other internal organs and puts strain on the surrounding muscles and ligaments. This can cause some minor aches and pains, but they are completely normal.
The growing uterus also presses on blood vessels, causing some women’s legs to swell, puts pressure on the bladder, making it necessary to urinate more often, and presses on the respiratory system and heart, encumbering breathing and movement.
If a woman is carrying twins or multiples, the uterus will stretch and grow more quickly.
Pressure from your uterus can cause your belly button to pop out, but it should return to normal after birth.
During the third trimester, the uterus grows to about the size of a watermelon. At full term—when the baby is fully developed—the uterus extends all the way from the pubic area to the rib cage. As the body prepares to give birth, the baby settles lower into the pelvis and the cervix begins to dilate so the uterine muscles can push the babe out into the world.
After birth, the uterus will gradually to the size, shape, and position it had before pregnancy. This is called involution and usually takes about 6 weeks.
Common uterine problems
Many medical conditions can affect the womb, such as polyps, endometriosis, fibroids, or cancer. Some cause pain and discomfort that is usually felt in the pelvic area and lower abdomen. More severe pain radiates to the middle of the abdomen or lower back. Other symptoms associated with various uterine problems include irregular periods and difficulty getting pregnant. If you experience any of these symptoms it is important to see a doctor for diagnosis because some concerns are quite serious, while others tend to resolve themselves.
A retroverted uterus—also called a tipped uterus, tilted uterus, or retroflexed uterus—is a uterus that curves in a backward instead of forward from the cervix. About 1 in 4 women has a tilted uterus.
A titled uterus is considered a normal anatomical variation and generally doesn’t interfere with a woman’s ability to conceive.
In the past, doctors thought that having a retroverted uterus contributed to infertility, but we now know that the position of the uterus doesn’t interfere with sperm reaching the egg.
Occasionally, scar tissue can form from endometriosis, infection, or prior surgery, tilting the uterus more sharply. Although this may make it more challenging for the sperm to reach the egg, it should still be possible to conceive. However, in such cases it may be helpful to consult a fertility specialist.
Fibroids. A fibroid is a non-cancerous growth, or local thickening of the myometrium. Fibroids often cause abundant menstrual bleeding.
There are three main types of fibroids:
Subserosal fibroids form on the surface of the uterus. If they grow large and cause discomfort, they can be removed surgically.
Intramural fibroids grow within the muscular uterine wall and can be detected by ultrasound. The often cause an increase in the volume of menstrual fluids. Like most fibroids, intramural fibroids tend to regress after menopause.
Submucosal fibroids develop just beneath the endometrium and are usually only 1 to 1.5 centimetres in diameter. Despite their small size, they can cause heavy bleeding and bleeding between periods as the tissue just beneath the endometrium is haemorrhagic—or liable to bleed profusely. Submucosal fibroids are treated with medicine but can be removed surgically if necessary.
Polyps. These are usually small, benign tumours, but they can cause intermenstrual bleeding, abnormal bleeding, or bleeding after menopause. You can have one or multiple uterine polyps. Polyps often occur in perimenopausal women because the endometrium no longer renews itself regularly each month. They usually remain within the uterus, but occasionally can slip down through the cervix into the vagina. Small, asymptomatic polyps often resolve on their own.
Treatment of small polyps is unnecessary unless you're at risk of uterine cancer.
If the polyps grow larger and cause problems, medication can provide a short-term solution but surgical removal is more effective.
Endometrial hyperplasia is abnormal thickening of the endometrium. Hyperplasia can be the result of a temporary hormonal imbalance but can also indicate a pre-cancerous state.
Symptoms of endometrial hyperplasia include abnormal bleeding between periods or more heavy periods. Excessive weight and obesity are risk factors for hyperplasia and its progression to endometrial cancer. The fatty mass manufactures an excess of oestrogens in comparison to progesterone levels. This hormonal imbalance stimulates an overproduction of uterine lining. Women who tend to be overweight or obese can regularly undergo vaginal ultrasounds to monitor this condition.
Consult your gynaecologist about any bleeding that occurs after menopause.
Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by the development of uterine lining outside the uterus. Adenomyosis is when endometriosis develops within the uterine muscles. This causes aggravated dysmenorrhea—abundant and painful periods that get worse from month to month. Endometriosis affects approximately one in 10 women of childbearing age and can start as early as puberty.
What to do? Doctors often prescribe oral contraceptives, which interrupt the menstrual cycle, allowing the uterus to rest, which can ease the symptoms. Please remember that some period pain is normal. If you have any questions about what you are experiencing don’t hesitate to discuss them with your doctor or gynaecologist.
Cervical cancer is now a preventable disease. A vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is present in most cancerous cervical cells, was developed in the 1990s and is now broadly available. The Papanicolaou test or Pap smear, in which a small number of cells are taken from the cervix, can detect cellular alterations linked to an HPV infection. Such alterations are called dysplasia, and do not cause any discomfort or symptoms. Regular pap smears (once every three years) are the best way of detecting dysplasia.
In most cases dysplasia doesn’t develop into a malignant tumour because the immune system defeats them.
It is also important to know that dysplasia doesn’t transform in cancer in a single day. It takes years for this to happen. Visit your gynaecologist regularly to detect and prevent unwanted changes.
You can track your period using WomanLog. Download WomanLog now:
There is a lot of online content aimed at women and a lot of that focuses on our health and wellbeing. We may have moved past the toxic diet and dating trends of the early 2000s but, sadly, misinformation in the realm of “feminine” topics is still rampant and can take many different forms. This article will help you recognise unreliable information so you can avoid it.
Everyone who’s had to deal with greasy hair knows how annoying and inconvenient it can be. But sometimes, it’s more than just a nuisance. A greasy scalp is prone to irritation, dandruff, and other skin conditions. To get rid of excess oil on your scalp, you must get to the root of the problem. Find out what contributes to greasy hair and learn nine ways to reduce excess oil production.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STD in the world: there is a very good chance that you will get at least one type of HPV during your lifetime. Preventative measures include practicing good hygiene and safe sex, getting tested regularly, and getting vaccinated, the last of which we focus on in this article.
A new member of the coronavirus family was first identified in December 2019. Over the past several months this new or novel coronavirus has spread around the world causing a global pandemic. This virus, COVID-19, is very contagious and causes mild to severe flu-like symptoms, especially affecting the respiratory organs and heart. Almost two million people have been infected worldwide and more than 100, 000 have died.
Uterine prolapse affects nearly half of all post-menopausal women. This is a serious health concern that often requires medical or even surgical intervention. However, there are ways to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles to help you avoid uterine prolapse later in life.
Almost no one would refuse a relaxing massage after a long day’s work. Massages can be therapeutic, a medical necessity, part of an athletic training routine, or even a spiritual journey. Regardless, massage is a great way to take care of your body.
Any abusive relationship, be it with a parent, sibling, or romantic partner, leaves scars. Moving forward with your life can be daunting enough, let alone building the foundations for a new healthy relationship.
Hormones are responsible for myriad bodily functions, and they affect our bodies in myriad ways, including our mood. Since the menstrual cycle features so many different hormonal processes, most women experience related emotional symptoms.
The human body is naturally covered in hair and still we have a long history of going to great lengths to remove it. Contrary to some beliefs, body hair removal serves a purely aesthetic purpose. This makes the choice to leave it there or get rid of it up to you.
Sweating is a natural bodily function—all of us sweat regardless of age, gender, or intensity of physical activity. Sometimes we notice changes in how much we sweat or how our sweat smells. There are reasons for these changes.
Humans have an innate need for social interactions, including physical touch. Touch is vital for a person’s wellbeing. As the Covid-19 pandemic mandates social distancing, many of us are left touch starved. What are the consequences, and is it possible to compensate for this deficit?
Endometriosis is a gynaecological condition caused by the presence of endometrial cells outside the uterus. It is known to be a leading cause of infertility in women. There is no known cure, but there are plenty of treatment options for combating symptoms.
They say you are what you eat. This idea can be helpful, provided we know what we are eating (which we often don’t). It can be very tempting to rely on an outside source to give us a list of special ingredients that will magically solve all our problems.
The choice of dietary supplements available in any given drugstore, let alone online, is vast. They promise to provide us with vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients in the form of pills, drops, capsules, and powders. Some of these can be truly useful while others are merely money-making fads for their producers, and some can even be quite harmful if used recklessly or purchased from an unreliable seller.
Vaginal mycoses, or vaginal yeast infection (also called candidal vulvovaginitis, vaginal thrush, or candidiasis) is extremely common. Mycoses is found in about 20% of vaginal secretions tested in laboratories. The pain and discomfort caused by this condition often requires immediate medical attention.
The philosopher’s stone, the elixir of immortality, the universal panaceas, the fountain of youth—these are all legends about the secret to extreme longevity. People have been thinking about eternal youth as long as there have been people. Slowing the signs of ageing with anti-ageing treatments is one way to postpone the inevitable changes. However, such procedures can only influence visible processes and have minimal to no impact on our overall longevity. Yet many people spend a great deal of money to look young for as long as possible. In this article, we will discuss anti-ageing treatments and how to care for ageing skin.
If you ask someone what migraine is, chances are they will tell you it’s a kind of severe headache. While partially true, this is an oversimplification. In this article, we explore the stages, symptoms, and myths associated with migraine, and discuss various coping strategies that help mitigate symptoms.
Many of us enjoy the occasional drink. Alcohol consumption has played a central role in almost all human cultures since at least about 4000 BC. The development of agrarian societies was based on the cultivation of grain to make bread and, the evidence tells us, to make alcohol. From the earliest recorded use of alcohol, drinking has been a social activity subject to local cultural norms.
Tattoos are not a new invention, many cultures have a long history of using tattoos in their religious and symbolic practices, or purely for aesthetic reasons. Tattoos were reintroduced into popular Western culture in the 20th century. Artists such as Lyle Tuttle, Cliff Raven, and Don Nolan were some of the people who influenced the re-emergence of tattoos.
Going to the gynaecologist can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time or if you have had a previous negative experience. Fear not! Reproductive health is an important aspect of your health, and you are in control of who you choose as your doctor and what happens at the appointment.
Acne is a widespread skin condition, well known as a teenage issue, although it also affects adults. It can be tempting to cover it up (with makeup or otherwise), but this is, at best, a temporary solution and is more likely to make things worse.
Pain is a universal human experience, but it is also highly individual. It can be hard to evaluate the exact cause of pain, but it is always a signal that something potentially dangerous is happening to your body.
Brain fog is a common experience that can happen to anyone due to lack of sleep, certain medications, or exhaustion after heavy physical activity. However, many menstruating people experience brain fog right before menstruation, and sometimes the symptoms are so intense that they disrupt daily life.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about many changes in our daily lives, including the new norm of wearing a protective face mask while out in public. The mask provides necessary protection against the virus, however prolonged use can have an impact on your skin.
You may have experienced heartburn after eating or at other times during the day. Despite their menacing names, heartburn and acid reflux are common (yes, there is a slight difference between the two), and are not considered disorders on their own. They do, however, cause discomfort and can indicate a more serious problem if the sensation lingers for too long or occurs too often.
Beautiful, well-cared-for nails are aesthetically pleasing and also indicate good general health. When the body lacks essential nutrients, the first indicators often appear in our hair and nails. While the way we groom our hands and feet can be a way of expressing personality, our nails have other functions, too.
A urinary tract infection or UTI is a bacterial infection usually caused by gastroin-testinal bacteria that has travelled from the anal tract to the urinary tract. The condition is uncomfortable and painful, and, if left untreated, can lead to kidney damage.
Many of us dream of having perfect curls—including people with naturally curly hair. This hair type is misunderstood surprisingly often and having a head of full of healthy and attractive curly, wavy, or kinky-coily hair remains a difficult but not impossible goal.
If there is does not happen to be a toilet nearby, there is nothing dangerous about holding your pee for a while. It happens to everyone, and the unpleasant feeling will be forgotten as soon as you finally have the opportunity to relieve yourself.
Preventative testing is a powerful tool in the battle against conditions that worsen over time. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the preventative measures you can take to tackle HPV-related cancers.
Many of us only truly learn to love ourselves and our bodies fairly late in life. Prior to that, we tend to spend time and energy judging ourselves about things we cannot change. Self-love is a skill made difficult to attain by the very impractical beauty standards that are popular today.
Millions of people take prescription and illicit drugs for medical or recreational reasons. When such substances are taken without precaution, they can develop into an addiction. Drug addiction is dangerous to the affected person and the people close to them.
This is a question a lot of us have been asking ourselves lately. Sometimes it is unavoidable, in certain situations completely understandable, but being tired should not be a constant state. Being “always tired” is often normalized and even romanticized to an extreme in our society, but it is actually very dangerous. Excessive tiredness is always a sign from your body that something might be off. Let’s look at the most common explanations behind constantly feeling tired and some possible solutions.
Although things have begun to improve, women are still too often dismissed and even ridiculed for health complaints such as pain and fatigue. No matter what society says, these feelings should not be a part of everyday life. Two chronic conditions that sometimes underlie lasting pain and tiredness when no other illnesses are present are fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Going green is important for the health and safety of our own bodies, as well as the safety of our planet. Making green choices and reducing your environmental footprint can start with your feminine hygiene routine.
Everybody has it, and an individual smell is a completely natural part of having a body. Having a strong body odor can become a problem in interpersonal communication, though. And sudden changes in your body odor can also signal underlying health issues – or, in some cases, simply changes in your hormone levels.
Food is a necessity in our lives. It gives us energy and nourishes our bodies. But sometimes, what is supposed to provide us with vitality takes it away. People with eating disorders use food as a crutch for dealing with negative or overwhelming emotions until their relationship with it becomes unhealthy.
Urinary incontinence affects 200 million people worldwide. People who develop incontinence experience urine leakage, lack of bladder control, and the frequent urge to urinate. It mainly affects older, pregnant, or postpartum women. Although many women choose to live with the discomfort, urinary incontinence can be reversed by improving one's lifestyle and incorporating regular pelvic muscle exercises.
Millions of women worldwide struggle with hair loss. Human hair growth passes through four stages. At the end, a hair is shed, and a new hair begins to grow from the follicle. However, a stressful lifestyle, poor diet, hormonal imbalances, and certain illnesses can cause excessive hair loss and pattern baldness in women.
Toxic shock syndrome is an acute, potentially fatal infection caused by staph or strep bacteria. Both types of bacteria can live harmlessly on your skin and in your nose and mouth—it is when there’s an overgrowth within the body that problems occur. The condition is commonly linked to the use of highly absorbent tampons during menstruation.
Millions of people across the globe use antidepressants to cope with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Although not a cure, the right antidepressant can be incredibly helpful with treating symptoms.
Throughout a woman’s lifetime, her body goes through many changes. Menopause is a significant transformation, marking the end of a woman’s reproductive life. This transition isn’t necessarily an easy one. It can go on for many years, and many women experience symptoms that disrupt their lives. Hormone replacement therapy is one way to reduce the impact of the most challenging symptoms. In this article, we will discuss the benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy.
A clenched jaw is an unfortunate side-effect of a stressful life. You may be overworking your jaw if you grind your teeth at night, eat too many hard foods, or have a bad posture! If left untreated, these symptoms can lead to chronic issues known as TMJ disorders.
The only sure method of birth control is abstinence, they say. While it’s true that if you never have sex, you cannot become pregnant, there are several methods of surgical contraception, or sterilization, that are also nearly 100% effective. What are they and why is this topic so heavily stigmatized?
We all have days when we don’t feel fully at home in our bodies. Societal beauty standards, pressure from the media, and advertisements from the fitness and beauty industries can all work against our self-confidence at times. The most intense manifestation of negative body perception is called Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD. No matter how we feel about our bodies, we can improve that relationship. It is possible to recover from BDD.
The number of men and women who suffer from heart disease is very similar. However, women are less likely to receive life-saving treatment for a heart attack because patients and doctors often don’t recognize the characteristic symptoms and dismiss them as stress or anxiety.
Vision is one of the primary senses humans use to interact with and learn about the world. It is also the main tool used in most jobs worldwide. In addition, our lives increasingly happen through digital screens, creating an even higher risk of overworking the eyes.
Procrastination, forgetfulness, irritability, and anxiety are all normal parts of human life. For people with ADHD, however, these are some of the more common challenges they face every day. For them it is nearly impossible to “get it together” and “stop being lazy”. Even the simplest tasks can require excessive effort, which is hard to understand if you don’t have ADHD. Women especially have trouble getting diagnosed and treated for ADHD.
It won’t come as a surprise when I tell you that smoking is unhealthy. Even so, many people still smoke regularly. Even those who consider themselves to be non-smokers, occasionally smoke when out with friends for a drink.