The Uterus

In reproductive terms, the uterus is one of the most important organs in your body. After all, it helps to nurture and protect your growing baby until she is ready to join the outside world. Despite its importance, you probably haven't spent much time thinking about this organ. However, if you are having trouble becoming pregnant, a problem with your uterus, like a tipped uterus, may be causing you difficulty. This article outlines the function of the uterus and how it can sometimes interfere with your fertility.

What is the Uterus?
The uterus is an essential component of the female reproductive system. Along with your ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and vagina, your uterus allows you to menstruate and become pregnant. Sometimes referred to as the womb, your uterus is the place in which your baby will develop when you become pregnant.

Your uterus is located inside your lower abdomen, just between your two hip bones. Its shape is similar to that of an upside-down pear. Your cervix is attached to the bottom of your uterus while your fallopian tubes extend from top of either side of the organ. Your uterus is actually made up of various muscles, which allow it to contract and relax during menstruation and childbirth. When you are not pregnant, uterus size is fairly small - it only measures about three or four inches in length. However, during pregnancythe size of your uterus can change. In fact, your uterus is capable of expanding up to 12 inches in length.

Inside the Uterus
Your uterus is an important part of your reproductive system, mainly because of what it contains inside of it. Your uterus contains various special linings that help you both to menstruate and nourish your baby.

The Endometrium:
The innermost lining of the uterus is referred to as the endometrium. It is designe to provide a home and nutrition for your baby. When you are not pregnant, your endometrial lining actually becomes your period. If no fertilized egg makes a home in your endometrium, this lining detaches itself from your uterus and exits your body in the form of your period. Every month a new endometrial lining should form, in order to allow you to become pregnant.

The Myometrium:
The myometrium makes up your uterus' second layer. Like the uterus itself, it is made up of muscles. These muscles contract during labor in order to push your baby out into the birth canal. The myometrium also allows the uterus to expand as your baby grows.

The Perimetrium
The job of the perimetrium is to protect the other linings of your uterus. It is very thin and covers both the endometrium and myometrium. Various ligaments help to keep the perimetrium in place inside your uterus.

The Uterus and Infertility
Sometimes, problems with your uterus can actually make it difficult for you to become pregnant. If you are having fertility issues or if you are undergoing fertility treatment, your uterus will be examined for various structural abnormalities. You will also be checked for problems with your uterine lining, such as endometriosis and uterine polyps.

Problems with the Uterus
Sometimes, abnormalities of the uterus itself can interfere with pregnancy.

Tipped Uterus:
Most women have a uterus that is situated in a vertical position inside the abdomen. However, sometimes your uterus can become tipped, and lean backwards towards your pelvis. A tilted uterus, also known as a retroverted uterus, can interfere with conception and make sexual intercourse painful.

Unicornate Uterus:
A unicornate uterus is one that hasn't developed completely. It is smaller, generally only half the size of a normal uterus, and only has one fallopian tube. This makes conception and pregnancy difficult.

Septate Uterus:
If you have a septate uterus, there is a piece of tissue that divides your uterus in half. This tissue can end part way through the uterus or it can run all the way down to your cervix. This condition can make implantation difficult and can increase your chances of miscarriage or early labor.

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