A retroverted uterus is the name given to a uterus that is tilted backwards inside of the pelvis. Normally, women are born with a uterus that is located in a straight up and down position inside of the pelvis, or with a uterus that tips slightly forwards, towards the stomach. However, some women have a uterus that tilts backwards, pointing towards the spine. Commonly referred to as a tipped uterus, this condition affects more than 20% of women worldwide. Generally associated with no health complications, a retroverted uterus can occasionally cause painful symptoms or signal an underlying health disorder.
What Causes a Retroverted Uterus?
In the vast majority of women with retroverted uteruses, causes are completely genetic. Many women are simply born with a uterus that is tipped in this position, and this is entirely normal. However, certain factors can cause a uterus that is in a normal placement to become retroverted. These causes include:
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy, the uterus becomes enlarged and the ligaments that hold the uterus in place become weakened. As a result, many women find that their uterus becomes retroverted after they have delivered their babies.
- Menopause: During menopause, estrogen levels drop rapidly in women. As with pregnancy, this can cause the ligaments that hold the uterus in place to weaken, allowing it to slip into a retroverted position.
- Reproductive Health Problems: Certain reproductive health issues, including pelvic inflammatory disease and endometriosis can cause the uterus to tilt backwards. This is because these illnesses can lead to scar tissue formation on the inside of the abdomen, forcing the uterus out of position.
What are the Symptoms of a Retroverted Uterus?
Generally, the majority of women suffering from a retroverted uterus experience no symptoms. However, if symptoms do present, the two most commonly-occurring symptoms include:
- pain during sexual intercourse, particularly vaginal intercourse (dyspareunia)
- pain during menstruation (dysmenorrhea)
This pain and discomfort is the result of pressure that the retroverted uterus places on the rectum and the ligaments around the tailbone.
Rare symptoms associated with a retroverted uterus include:
- lower back pain
- increased number of urinary tract infections
- pain while using tampons
- fertility difficulties
Diagnosing a Retroverted Uterus
If you are experiencing symptoms of a retroverted uterus, you may want to make an appointment with your health care provider for an examination. By performing a few simple tests, your health care provider can easily diagnose the condition. Diagnosis usually consists of:
- a pelvic exam
- an abdominal ultrasound
Occasionally, it is difficult to differentiate a retroverted uterus from a pelvic tumor. In this case, your health care provider may have to perform a rectovaginal exam.
Are There Any Health Complications Associated with a Retroverted Uterus?
Few women with retroverted uteruses experience health complications as a result of their condition. However, sometimes a retroverted uterus can be a warning sign of another underlying reproductive issue, including pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis. Be sure to contact your health care provider if you are experiencing:
- severe abdominal or pelvic pain
- irregular menstrual periods
- irregular ovulation or infertility
If left untreated, these conditions can have dangerous effects on your reproductive organs and overall health.
Will A Retroverted Uterus Affect Fertility?
Many women who have a retroverted uterus worry that it will affect their future fertility. However, this condition does not appear to affect conception in any way, and most women with retroverted uteruses will go on to experience healthy pregnancies. If you are experiencing difficulties getting pregnant, it could be a sign of an underlying reproductive problem. Be sure to contact your health care provider for assistance.
Treatment for A Retroverted Uterus
If your retroverted uterus is causing you a lot of pain or discomfort, you may want to consider treatment for the condition. Treatment options include:
- Exercises: Women can perform knee-to-chest exercise in order to encourage the uterus to slip back into its proper place. Unfortunately, this tends to be a temporary solution for the problem.
- Pessaries: A pessary is a plastic device that is worn inside of the vagina. It helps to support the uterus in the proper position. However, these devices can only be worn in the short term because of the risk for developing a vaginal infection.
- Surgery: Surgery for a retroverted uterus is available. Known as the UPLIFT procedure, this procedure works to reposition the uterus by cutting and shortening the ligaments that support it. UPLIFT is a laparoscopic surgery that is performed with the aid of a small camera.