Shaped like an inverted pear and located in the lower area of our abdomen is the uterus. The uterus is an essential organ of the female reproductive system, and yet, it is hardly spoken of. Instead, most conversations about the female anatomy are simply limited to the vagina.
Today, we are going to take a step further and discuss WHY we need to talk about our uterus. The muscular organ that fertilizes the egg, regulates our menstrual cycle every month, and holds the fetus in our bodies for 9 months is no less than a super organ. It performs a multitude of functions, each one key to a woman’s reproductive system and overall health.
Let’s take a closer look.
What Does The Uterus Do?
- Uterus and Periods
So, since you were a young girl, you have been having your menstrual cycles. But very few know what actually causes them. First off, let’s learn what the endometrium is. When a woman is of reproductive age, each month, her body releases hormones that cause ovulation. Around the same time of ovulation, the endometrium (lining of the uterus) grows thicker to prepare for a pregnancy. In the case where a woman does not get pregnant, the top layer of the endometrium, containing blood, tissues, etc., is shed. This is the flow of blood that we experience during our monthly menstrual cycles or periods.
Once menopause sets in, our bodies stop the production of the hormones that cause ovulation and menstruation.
- Uterus and Fertilization
Chances of conceiving are higher when a man and woman engage in sexual intercourse within days of the woman’s ovulation. When the egg does get fertilized, that is when pregnancy occurs. The egg now attaches itself to the wall of the uterus and begins developing.
A major function of the uterus is to nourish and house the fertilized egg. This fertilized egg develops into a fetus and into a baby eventually. It is the uterus that holds the baby till it is mature and ready for birth.
Conditions That Affect The Uterus
Apart from being aware of how the uterus helps in reproduction, it’s also important to be aware of the various diseases that occur involving the organ.
- Uterine Prolapses – A uterine prolapse occurs when the uterus slips from its normal place and shifts down into the vagina. This is common in women who have had multiple vaginal childbirths but can also occur from obesity or menopause.
- Uterus Fibroids – These are non-cancerous growths in the uterus walls and can cause heavy bleeding and pain.
- Endometriosis – This is a condition when the tissue that normally lines the uterus starts to grow outside of the uterus. It can cause excessive bleeding and pain in between periods.
- Adenomyosis – A condition opposite of endometriosis, this is when the tissue that lines the uterus begins to grow inside the walls of the uterus. Again, this too causes severe pain and bleeding.
- Cancer of the uterus, cervix, ovary, or endometrium – Cancer in any of these areas can be treated depending on the type of cancer and how advanced it is. Several treatment options are available such as hysterectomy, chemotherapy, or radiation.
Now, this information isn’t being shared to scare you. But just like all other bodily diseases that we’re well versed with, we must also be aware of these. Regular visits and open conversations with your gynecologists can help detect and treat these conditions.
Hysterectomy & Other Solutions
A hysterectomy is a surgery wherein your uterus is removed from your body. Along with the uterus, the doctor may also remove your ovaries and fallopian tubes. Post a hysterectomy, you will no longer menstruate or be able to get pregnant.
A hysterectomy is usually recommended to treat the diseases listed above. However, it isn’t the only solution and may not always be necessary. Depending on your condition, the following treatments can also be tried at first:
- Watchful waiting
- Non-surgical treatments
The uterus is said to be one of the strongest muscles in the human body. Apart from its role in the reproductive functions, it also offers support to our bladder, pelvic region, and organs and acts as a separator between the bladder and bowels.
When speaking of periods and the menstrual cycle, don’t leave the uterus out of the conversation. If you’re a parent to a young daughter, this is even more essential. Or even if it’s with your gang of girlfriends, try and be more open to information-sharing. Knowledge is key and knowing why your body acts the way it does is empowering to say the least. The uterus supports us through multiple stages of our lives. It’s high time we speak about it, isn’t it?