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What is the Uterus?

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Updated June 12, 2014

What is the Uterus?

The uterus is a crucial part of a woman's reproductive system.

Photo © A.D.A.M.
Question: What is the Uterus?
Answer: The uterus is a small, hollow, pear-shaped organ found in women. Sitting between the bladder and rectum, the lower end of the uterus opens into the cervix, which then opens into the vagina. The uterus has many important and crucial functions in the reproductive capacity of women.

Menstruation

Each month, hormones like estrogen and progesterone encourage the uterine lining to thicken and mature in preparation for the implantation of a fertilized egg. If implantation does not occur, the lining is shed each month as menses.

The Uterus During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the uterus stretches and grows to accommodate the maturing fetus. It also maintains the proper environment for the fetus to grow in. The uterus also contracts rhythmically during intercourse to facilitate the passage of sperm through the cervix and deep into the uterus. Finally, the thick muscular layer of the uterus is responsible for pushing the baby out during childbirth.

Tipped Uterus

In most women, the uterus is positioned slightly forward (anteverted) so that it is resting lightly on the bladder. It is held in place by ligaments and the pressure of the other pelvic organs. But, if you have a tipped (also known as retroverted) uterus, your uterus is angled backwards.

While this may sound concerning, in most cases, it is nothing to be concerned about. If you are having any other symptoms, like pain during intercourse or your period, let your doctor know. Occasionally, a tipped uterus may signal that something else is going on.

Source:

Huether, Sue E., and McCance, Kathryn L. Understanding Pathophysiology; 3rd Edition. Mosby: St. Louis. 2004. p. 867.

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