Monday, July 20, 2009

GynoLingo: Retroverted Uterus

Hi Dr. Kate,

I have a question about the uterus. I’ve been suspicious for a while that I have a tipped uterus (mainly because it seems to run in my family), and the gynecologist at my university clinic confirmed it during a routine pap smear. She didn’t seem worried about it, but commented awkwardly, “wow you’re reaaally tipped!” She didn’t talk about it further.

What exactly makes a uterus “tipped”? And does it tend to affect childbirth or sex? I’ve only recently become sexually active this past year and haven’t noticed anything yet, but I was just curious.

Tipped Off

Dear Tipped,

Almost every day in the office I mention to a patient that she has a retroverted uterus, and I'm met with a blank stare. Also called a "tipped uterus," a retroverted uterus tilts back in your pelvis, toward your tailbone. About one in five women have one--the rest have an anteverted uterus, that tips forward towards the bladder. You can't control this, it's simply your natural direction.

What does having a retroverted uterus mean? Probably nothing, but maybe two things--it may mean more difficult speculum exams, because your cervix tends to be hidden behind your pubic bone. If you feel like your gyno is mining for gold in there, tell her to "look up" to find your cervix. And if your uterus is tipped, sexual positions with deep penetration may cause discomfort: your cervix gets cranky when she's smacked, and can cause your uterus to start cramping. So positions where you control how deep he goes may be more enjoyable. Having a retroverted uterus does NOT affect your chances of pregnancy (so you still need birth control), or cause any complications when you are pregnant--the position straightens out (from either direction) by the end of the first trimester.

Photo credit: BeckyKP

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