There are many things that can happen to your reproductive organs that in turn can affect your overall health. You may know all about the annoying signs of polycystic ovarian syndrome, for example, or the painful symptoms of endometriosis. But other conditions exist that are a little more subtle, like the signs you have a tilted uterus.
Also known as a retroverted uterus, a "tilted uterus" is when your uterus points slightly backward toward the spine and rectum. "It affects around 20 percent of the female population and is typically genetic, so there's a good chance that your mother or grandmother also had a retroverted uterus," says women's health expert and founder of The Center for Menstrual + Sexual Health, Nicole Harlow. "There are certain conditions like endometriosis and uterine fibroids that may also tilt the uterus backwards."
While it sounds scary (titled organs, what?) it's not something you have to worry about. As Harlow says, "It just may be uncomfortable in certain situations." Read on below for some of the signs and symptoms that can reveal you have a tilted uterus. If they sound familiar, ask your gynecologist for a pelvic exam so you can know for sure. Then, ask her for some tips on how to feel better.
1. Certain Sex Positions Are Really Uncomfortable
Some sex positions may feel too intense due to the angle of your uterus. As Harlow tells me, this is especially true for those where the penis hits towards the rear of the body instead of the front — like reverse cowgirl or girl-on-top. You might notice that deeper penetration is extra painful, too.
2. It's Often Difficult To Put In Tampons
Tampons should be relatively easy to insert, so take it as a sign if you just can't seem to get them in. "Because the uterus is tilted sharply backwards, when you insert tampons you may find that the tampon or other insertable doesn't seem to want to sit properly," Harlow says. Same goes for menstrual cups.
3. You Have All Kinds Of Leakage During Your Period
Because tampons and menstrual cups don't sit properly, you might notice they don't work as well for you as they do for your friends. If you experience annoying leakage during your period, Harlow tells me this could be why.
4. Diaphragms Never Seem To Fit Properly
For the same reasons listed above, Harlow tells me you might not be able to get diaphragms to fit properly. If any of these period/sex-related issues are annoying, talk to your gynecologist about your options. (And, of course, whether or not you might have a tilted uterus.)
5. Your Get Period Cramps In Your Lower Back
While most ladies feel period cramps in their lower abdomen, yours are almost always along your lower back. As Harlow tells me, you might also notice more back pain during pregnancy, too.
6. You've Been Having Trouble Getting Pregnant
While a naturally tilted uterus shouldn't affect your ability to get preggers, one that's caused by other health conditions might. "If endometriosis or pelvic scar tissue is the cause of a 'tilted' uterus, then you may experience more difficulty getting pregnant," says Dr. Janet Choi, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist with CCRM-New York. "A tilted uterus does not affect you later in life."
7. It Seems Like You Always Have A UTI
If you're particularly susceptible to urinary tract infections, a tilted uterus may be to blame. As women's health expert Debra Gerson, L.Ac., Dipl. OM, FABORM says, "[It stems] from the abnormal positioning of the uterus. Sometimes surgery is recommended to correct this condition if symptoms are causing severe distress."
8. You May Have Peed Yourself Once Or Twice
An abnormally positioned uterus may push on organs in a way that causes other annoying issues, like incontinence. While there are plenty of other reasons you might be slightly peeing yourself, Gerson tells me this may be one of them.
9. It Can Be Difficult To Go To The Bathroom
Do you occasionally struggle with going to the bathroom? "The tilted uterus can sometimes cause a mechanical compression of the rectum," says OBGYN Dr. Briza Walter, in an email to Bustle. "Everyone's uterine size is a little different, but if your uterus is a little bulkier and you naturally have hard stools, that can be a bad combination for your bowel movements."
10. Irregular Menstrual Cycles
According to health writer Jamie Renee Lashbrook on the women's website WellBellyHealing.com, irregular menstrual cycles may result if your uterus is tipped. Since it's likely been that way your whole life, you might not think anything of your unpredictable period schedule. But it's still something you should bring up to your doctor.
11. No Problems At All
While a tilted uterus might make sex kinda painful, or cause a few issues with peeing and periods, it'll usually be totally unnoticeable. As OBGYN G. Thomas Ruiz, MD says, "The majority of women with a tilted uterus will not have problems." When that's the case, you can just go about your daily business without a uterine care in the world.
But if it does bother you, go ahead and make an appointment with your doctor. There are ways to help the symptoms, should you have any.
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