What is a Bicornuate Uterus
The bicornuate uterus also called the heart-shaped womb is a situation where the woman is born with a heart-shaped uterus which happens due to some uterine irregularities. The uterus plays a key role in pregnancy and birth of a child and therefore such defect affects the sexual health of a woman. Due to this defect, a woman may find it difficult to conceive due to repeated miscarriages, painful periods, painful intercourse etc.
Even if she conceives, she may face severe complications during her gestation period which can affect her as well as the child’s health. The shape of the uterus plays a significant role in pregnancy as this shape determines the health of the embryo. Irregular structures like a heart shape embryo may be liable for deformities in the child born.
Women who suffer from such defects are usually born with it and such a defect is not very noticeable since the very beginning, it is only through an ultrasound test that this defect can be detected. This disorder can be cured with surgery, wherein the surgeon works on correcting the shape of the uterus. However, women suffering from this condition have reported some symptoms, which may require a doctor’s attention.
- Abdominal discomfort
- Repeated miscarriages
- Painful periods and intercourse
- Vaginal bleeding
Bicornuate uterus and pregnancy
The bicornuate uterus may not affect the fertility in women but it can expose her to major risks during pregnancy. The heart-shaped womb does not affect the fertilization process or implantation of the embryo but it can pose restrictions in its development and the baby delivered may comprise of some aliments or deformities. However, according to research, it was found that the women who were not able to conceive suffered from some kind of uterus deformities.
Therefore, bicornuate uterus may be responsible for miscarriage or premature delivery. Such problems are said to arise due to incapacity of the womb in terms of shape or irregular contractions in uterine. Babies born to women suffering from the bicornuate uterus may have 4 times higher risks of facing birth defects than those borne under normal circumstances.
Doctors usually take extra precautions and care for patients suffering from the bicornuate uterus. They are recommended to undergo regular ultrasonic examinations to determine the health of the baby as well as the mother. Usually, the baby is born via cesarean delivery in such cases.
How is a bicornuate diagnosis performed?
It involves the following steps-
- An ultrasound examination- the image of the womb is detected using high-frequency waves.
- MRI scan(magnetic resonance imaging)- works in a similar way like ultrasound using magnetic fields to detect the shape and structure of the womb.
- The pelvic region is examined
- Hysterosalpingogram, commonly known as X-ray. An X-ray for the womb can be obtained by injecting a medical purpose dye, to obtain the shape and structure of the womb.
Most of the time women do not opt for a bicornuate examination but discover about while being examined for pregnancy or any other procedure involving ultrasound.
Bicornuate uterus causes
A bicornuate uterus is not caused due to any ailment or defect but it is rather present in a woman since birth. Such diseases are known as congenital diseases as they are present even before she is born. During the development of the embryo, the uterus of the baby, due to some reason/s is not able to develop normally. This condition arises due to the fusion of mesonephric ducts also called Mullerian ducts, which takes places in the initial development stage of the embryo and lasts until lifetime.
The evolvement of Mullerian ducts depends on organogenesis, fusion and septal resorption. The embryonic development phase is termed as organogenesis. It is a process where both the ducts fuse, the failure of which may lead to the condition of uterine agenesis also called the unicornuate uterus. In case, the fusion takes place just after the gestation period starts, it may lead to a condition of a bicornuate uterus.
The degree of abnormality in a female reproductive system (in embryo stage) is determined by muller’s duct and Wolffian body as they play a key role in the development of reproductive organs in a female.
There is no way this situation can be prevented. It is almost impossible to detect bicornuate uterus as the symptoms are not explicitly visible and can only be detected if she undergoes ultrasound or when she is pregnant.
Yet this defect should be diagnosed if the woman repeatedly experiences miscarriages, painful periods, painful intercourse, irregular bleeding, etc.
Some different types of uterus abnormalities are-
Also known as the single-horned uterus, is a disorder wherein only half of the uterus is formed, during the development stage of the embryo. It comprises of a single fallopian tube. The other half may be developed into a small projection called the Hemi-uterus and can be painful as the menstrual blood does not flow from it.
This condition is a disorder or a deformity present in a woman since birth. It can be responsible for repeated miscarriage. Septate is a membrane that divides the uterus into two divisions. Septate may interfere with pregnancy, leading to miscarriages. Such a defect can only be treated with surgery.
Usually, women do not undergo any treatment for bicornuate uterus or heart-shaped uterus, though surgery is performed to cure this disorder known as Strassman metroplasty. If a woman experiences repeated miscarriages or extreme pain during menstruation, the doctor may recommend her to undergo this treatment. Some may even claim that this procedure will cure the issue of infertility, but there is not enough evidence to support this claim.
Even though, in research, it was found that women who had repeated miscarriages or premature delivery were usually diagnosed with this disorder. It is always suggested that women with this condition must take extra care and precautions and should go for regular monitoring, to make sure that both the mother and the baby are healthy.