So there I was on a rainy Friday afternoon, sitting in my gynecologist’s office after having my yearly exam. While reading back different information collected about me, the doctor said, “You have a tilted uterus.” I didn’t know what that meant so I responded with a “What?”
“Less than 50 percent of women have it, but it’s still quite common,” she said.
“So what does that mean?” I asked, bracing myself for something I didn’t want to hear.
“Nothing” she said. “Just thought you might like to know.”
Because I don’t know how to keep very much to myself, I went around telling everyone who “might like to know” about my unique uterus as though I were telling them about a secret power. When everyone asked what it meant, I told them that the doctor said it meant nothing. But then, I thought, it had to mean something for her to tell me — even if it’s not a bad thing.
So, I did some research. Just in case your OBGYN tells you that you have a tilted uterus, otherwise known as a tipped or retroverted one, here is some more information about it. And if you do have one, welcome to the club, sis.
Anteverted vs. Retroverted
Most women have an anteverted uterus, meaning it’s tilted toward the bladder. According to Better Health, to have a tilted or “retroverted” uterus means the uterus is tilted backwards towards the spine. While the anterior of an anteverted uterus is concave, for a retroverted uterus, the anterior is convex. Most doctors deem it a “normal anatomical variance” that one in five women have.
The causes of retroversion of the uterus vary. According to The New York Times, it could be because of weakened pelvic ligaments during menopause, as well as scarring of tissue in the pelvis due to things like endometriosis, fibroids, and pelvic inflammatory disease. However, for most, it’s due to genetics. For some young women, the uterus may tilt forward as they mature — sometimes it stays tipped backwards.
Many women don’t really deal with symptoms for a retroverted uterus. However, in some cases, it can cause pain, specifically during sex and pregnancy. According to Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph.D. who spoke to Women’s Health, she pointed out that you may feel discomfort when on top (but she also said that if you control the level of penetration, that can alleviate pain). Options she recommended that may not cause as much discomfort due to forceful penetration include missionary and the spooning position.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, What To Expect notes that you might struggle with more back pain than the usual mom-to-be, a harder time locating the baby during an ultrasound (which may require a transvaginal sonogram), and possibly, a hard time emptying your bladder. In the latter case, if the uterus is tilted far backwards while carrying a child, it could push up against your bladder and make it hard to empty it. Leaning backward while peeing can help.
As for giving birth, just because you have a tilted uterus doesn’t mean you automatically have to have a C-section. According to experts, once you move past the first trimester, your uterus will be so large that it won’t be tilted. There have been times where there have been delivery complications or even an “incarcerated uterus” (as in, the uterus is stuck in your pelvis instead of moving up into your abdomen), but the likelihood of such occurrences is a small one. After giving birth, your uterus will find itself in a position based on how much of an effect your pregnancy had on your ligaments and how much weight you gained. Still, if it goes back to being retroverted, you should be just fine for future pregnancies.
Doctors can physically lift a tilted uterus forward, but it may tilt back on its own. According to News-Medical, pelvic floor strengthening exercises can aid in helping it stay forward. A small silicone or plastic device called a pessary has also been used to tilt the uterus forward, however, it’s also been linked to infection and possible inflammation. Surgery is also an option, using sutures to tilt a backward-leaning uterus forward to keep it in place. So yes, you can do something about a tilted uterus. However, the consensus seems to be that if it hasn’t caused you any real trouble, why bother?