An enlarged uterus is often found on an examination by your doctor or on an imaging test like an ultrasound. An enlarged uterus can have many causes. These can range from pregnancy, to benign tumors to life threatening cancers. Imaging often provides a reason for having an enlarged uterus.
What does it mean when your uterus is enlarged?
A normal uterus in a reproductive aged women is usually the size of a fist. With regards to measurements, a uterus longer than 12 cm or 6 cm in thickness will often be considered enlarged.
What are the symptoms of an enlarged uterus?
This will often depend on the cause of the uterine enlargement. Common symptoms will include: long or painful periods, irregular bleeding, feeling or fullness in the abdomen, pain during sex, constipation, pregnancy or delivery complications to name some.
What causes an enlarged uterus?
A uterus will be enlarged as a result of a normal pregnancy. The uterus will also remain enlarged for some time after a normal delivery.
Uterine fibroids are non cancerous growths which can cause enlargement of the uterus. Fibroids range in size and position in the uterus. Some fibroids can extend outside the uterus and extend into the abdomen.
Adenomyosis is a condition in which the lining of the uterus extends into the uterine wall and causes uterine enlargement.
Cancer of the uterus can cause enlargement. This can be a cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer) or of the uterine wall (leiomyosarcoma).
Dilated uterine cavity can cause uterine enlargement. Dilation of the uterine cavity can be caused by fluid, infection, blood, and retained fetal products after pregnancy.
Hormonal changes related to medications or internal changes can lead to uterine enlsrgement.
What does an enlarged uterus look like on imaging?
This will depend on the cause of the enlargement. An ultrasound may show us the cause. We may see a pregnancy, fibroids, uterine masses, adenomyosis, or a dilated uterine cavity. An MRI of the uterus can provide even more information about an enlarged uterus.
Should I be worried if my uterus is enlarged?
There are a wide range of causes of an enlarged uterus ranging from benign to life threatening. It is important to identify the cause of the enlarged uterus.
Is an enlarged uterus dangerous?
Not always. There are some causes like cancer which are dangerous and life threatening.
Can an enlarged uterus make your stomach big?
Yes, an enlarged uterus can make your belly swell. There can be other causes for belly swelling as well so imaging will be important to identifying the cause.
What organs can an enlarged uterus affect?
An enlarged uterus can put pressure on the colon, the bladder, and even extend into the abdomen. Some patients will experience constipation and frequent urination.
How do you treat an enlarged uterus?
The treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Treatments for fibroids and adenomyosis may include birth control and hormonal treatments. Hysterectomy will be done for patients who do not wish to have children. Targeted treatments for fibroids include uterine artery embolization to shrink the fibroids without surgery.
Cancer treatment will depend on how advanced the cancer is. This may include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Cancer of the uterus will often be guided by a gynecologic oncologist.
Does enlarged uterus go away?
It depends on the cause of the enlargement. Growths like fibroids shrink with age. Adenomyosis tends to go away after menopause. Usually after pregnancy, the uterus will return to normal size. Cancerous growths will not go away on their own.
What can cause your uterus to be enlarged? : summary
An enlarged uterus has many causes ranging from normal pregnancy, benign growths like fibroids to cancerous tumors. An enlarged uterus will often be found on a physical exam by your doctor or on an imaging test.
Imaging tests like ultrasound will often identify the cause of the enlarged uterus. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and many other factors like age and desire to preserve fertility.