The uterus is an immensely important organ when it comes to female reproductive health. Not only does it initiate and regulate menstruation, it also plays a key function in the reproductive process itself. And yet, there remain certain misconceptions and points of misinformation about the organ, as conversations about female bodies are in general quite taboo. So, if you want to learn more about this organ and want some common myths busted, here’s a handy guide.
The uterus, located right above the vagina, is composed of two parts – the body and the cervix. The body of sits in the middle of your pelvis, between your bladder and rectum, and is the actual place where the foetus is situated during pregnancy. The cervix, however, is in the lower part of the uterus, extending into the vagina, and allows the baby to pass during childbirth. The uterus also consists of layers of cells that make up its ‘walls’, namely endometrium, myometrium, and perimetrium. They serve as both a protective layer and also provide cushioning and support to the reproductive organs.
If the angle of the body of the uterus points upward toward the bladder, the uterus is ‘anteverted’, but if the body points back, it is ‘retroverted’. Sometimes, a doctor might tell you that your uterus is ‘tilted’, but there’s no reason to be alarmed by that! Uterine “tilts” are actually common anatomic variants, which aren’t related to the actual functioning of the uterus at all! There’s a common misconception among women with an anteverted uterus lying on the stomach after intercourse will help with pregnancy and conception, but in reality, the position of the uterus doesn’t affect fertility at all. If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, it’s best to first see a doctor without blaming your uterus’ position for it!
As discussed already, the uterus is a key instigator in both the process of menstruation and conception, as it stimulated ovulation. But each uterus goes about it differently. When it comes to menstruation, the first and foremost misconception to unlearn is that the colour of your menstrual blood (whether it’s more reddish or brownish) has anything to do with the health of your uterus. They vary in colour and texture because they’re just segments of your uterine wall that are shed and the resultant bleeding which follows – both of which are common occurrences during periods. The patterns of blood flow, too, are not entirely linked with whether or not your uterus is healthy, they depend on the severity of each cycle. As long as your cycle is regular and consistent, you don’t need to need to be concerned. In fact, most irregularities and complications with menstruation usually orginate in the ovaries, although, sometimes abnormalities in the uterine walls can cause it too (in which cases, symptoms will be much severe).
The Endometrium is the innermost layer of the uterus, and sometimes, when this tissue is found outside the uterus rather than inside it, it gives rise to a rare condition called ‘endometriosis’. In this case, the tissue gets "trapped" in the pelvic area and lower abdomen, and leads to a lot of pain. The issue is often genetic, but often, environmental factors and lifestyle choices can lead to it too. Symptoms usually include painful periods, pain during sex, difficulties with pregnancy, and so on. Though there is no definitive cure for it, usually the pain is treated symptomatically, through painkillers, paracetamol or codeine. In severe cases, hormone treatment is also prescribed.
Since there is no clear way to apprehend such a disease, preventive measures largely include the exercising of strict reproductive hygene, knowing how to maintain cleanliness and balancing your diet and lifestyle choices. Usually, avoiding excess alcohol and smoking is advised.
Cancer of the uterus is a surprisingly common and harmful condition, one that is, in some cases curable, but in some cases, gravely serious. When cancerous cells are produced in the uterine region, it harms the organ irreparably, and causes multiple complications when it comes to menstruation and reproduction. Hence, it’s important to get weekly checkups from your gynaecologist for early detection of this disease, especially ultrasounds and biopsies, which help determine its presence and malignity. Balancing out your diet – reducing calories and increasing protein intake, in particular – is supremely important. Apart from that, it’s helpful to keep track of your periods so that you can spot irregularities and report them to your gynaecologist immediately. The more benign versions of this disease can be curable, and treatments usually include medicines or hormone therapy, but the more severe versions require multiple surgeries and radiation therapy.
Since the uterus plays such a major role in the way our reproductive system functions, it is imperative for us to be aware of what it does, to get rid of unnecessary information about it, and to learn to take better care of it. So if you want to keep your uterus healthy and happy, start being conscious of it from today.