While the uterus has incredible powers and is an amazing force when it comes to pregnancy and creating life, outside of procreation it can also be subject to conditions that cause uterine pain and bloating. Today we are going to talk about some of these conditions, what causes them, and treatments that can alleviate bloating in the uterus.
A Woman’s Uterus And Superhero Status
If you stop to think about it, a woman’s uterus is amazing. It is akin to a superhero when you consider these five facts.
- There is not one person on this earth that would be here today if it had not been for a uterus.
- The uterus is as strong as any superhero and if going by weight, it is the strongest muscle in a woman’s body. The force, power, and pressure necessary to birth a baby during labor is the strongest force put forth by any other muscle in the body.
- During pregnancy, the uterus creates and grows a placenta making the uterus the only organ that can produce another organ. Not only that, but the most amazing thing is that the uterus can grow a human.
- The uterus is like the superhero Elastigirl and can stretch from the size of a small pear to a watermelon and then revert to almost its normal size within 6 weeks of giving birth.
- The uterus is a shapeshifter and expands and conforms to a growing baby holding up to 500 times its usual capacity.
What Size Is The Uterus Supposed To Be?
The uterus resembles the shape of a pear and sits under the pubic bone measuring about 3” long x 2” wide. After reverting post-pregnancy, the uterus can be slightly larger but only by a few centimeters.
What Normal Conditions Would Cause Uterine Bloating?
During pregnancy, the uterus drastically changes size and causes the abdomen to appear distended. Each month a woman may feel like her uterus is bloating during her period and it may enlarge between 10% and 15%. While this enlargement is slight, it may cause a woman to have to urinate more frequently if it puts pressure on her bladder.
Many women complain that they feel “full” or heavier during their menstrual cycle and their clothing is a bit tighter. This is not the actual uterus bloating before or during periods, but rather the rise in the hormone progesterone that occurs during this time that promotes fluid retention.
Can My Uterus Bloating Be A Sign Of A Medical Condition?
Aside from pregnancy and the normal cycle of menstruation, an enlarged uterus can be a symptom of a medical condition that may cause you uterus pain and promote bloating requiring treatment. It is also possible that a woman with an enlarged uterus is asymptomatic or only thinks she has gained a little weight and does not realize her condition until she has a pelvic exam.
Medical conditions that can cause uterine bloating include:
- 1. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- PCOS affects about 1 in 10 women during their childbearing years and can cause the uterus to enlarge. Hormonal imbalances can affect the shedding of the endometrial lining during menstruation causing some of the lining to be retained. This can accumulate and cause inflammation and uterus bloating.
- 2. Endometrial cancer
- Unusual bleeding after menopause or vaginal discharge are both common symptoms of endometrial cancer which most often affects women between 55 and 64 years old. Advanced stages of the disease can cause an enlarged uterus.
- 3. Menopause
- During perimenopause, which is the onset of menopause, women experience fluctuations in their hormone levels. These hormone levels can be inconsistent for years and may cause the uterus to enlarge temporarily.
- 4. Ovarian cysts
- This type of cyst is almost always harmless but can cause symptoms that can turn into serious complications. Ovarian cysts grow on or in the ovaries and can become large because they are filled with fluid. A woman may feel like her uterus is bloating and her lower abdomen may distend slightly causing pain on the side where the cyst is located.
- 5. Adenomyosis
- This non-cancerous condition is often misdiagnosed as uterine fibroids because they share some similar symptoms. Adenomyosis is caused by the same endometrial cells that normally grow in the uterine lining (the ones that build up and shed each month during the menstrual cycle) but they spread beyond their boundaries into the muscular layer of the myometrium.
Endometriosis is caused by these same rogue cells but they migrate outside of the uterus and affect other nearby organs.
This additional growth of endometrial cells caused by adenomyosis begins to build up inside the middle layer of the uterus causing it to expand and thicken. The bloating in the uterus can become thick enough that it resembles a uterus that is 12 weeks pregnant.
- 6. Uterine Fibroids
- One of the most common causes of uterus pain and bloating is uterine fibroids. As many as 80% of all women experience uterine fibroids during their lifetime although many will not experience symptoms. Other women may have debilitating symptoms from their fibroids and require medical treatment.
Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow in and on the uterus and a woman can have one fibroid or many ranging in size from a tiny pearl to a pumpkin. Depending on the size and/or location of uterine fibroids, they can exert pressure on nearby organs and cause pain, frequent urination, and even infertility.
If you are asking yourself “why am I so bloated that I look pregnant?”, you might have uterine fibroids. Cynthia Bailey from RHOA experienced uterine fibroids so severe that the press wrote and published stories suggesting she was pregnant.
Ms. Bailey found help for her fibroids at The Atlanta Fibroid Center with Dr. John Lipman through uterine fibroid embolization.
How Is Uterus Bloating Treated?
The treatment for uterine enlargement will vary depending on the root cause of the symptom. Some conditions that cause the uterus to grow larger do not need to be treated and some such as cancer require surgical intervention. Others such as adenomyosis and uterine fibroids can be effectively treated with a non-surgical treatment that is quick, effective, and can provide relief from symptoms.
When treating adenomyosis the procedure is routinely called uterine artery embolization (UAE) and when treating fibroids it is referred to as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). The procedure used to address each condition is the same but they vary slightly in technique.
UFE and UAE are outpatient procedures that are completed in about 45 minutes after which patients can return home to their short recovery period of only about one week.
During the procedure, the blood supply needed for the fibroids or the adenomyosis to survive is completely cut off which causes them to shrink and eventually die. After the procedure, the patient is sent home with just a bandaid, and by their next menstrual cycle, many patients have reported complete relief of their once-debilitating symptoms.
If you are suffering from symptoms related to fibroids or adenomyosis and are looking for a solution for your uterus pain and bloating, contact The Atlanta Fibroid Center today. Dr. Lipman & Dr. Ermentrout are leading experts in the United States on the UFE procedure and have helped over 10,000 women avoid surgery.
The Atlanta Fibroid Center and its team of compassionate professionals are unsurpassed in their quality of patient care and deliver excellent results. Set up a consultation today to learn more about UAE and UFE and how this procedure can give you back your quality of life without surgery.