There are many reasons for an enlarged uterus but most of them are benign. However, they often cause annoying symptoms.
If you didn't have any symptoms and your gynecologist spotted the enlargement, consider yourself lucky because they can range from spotting, breakthrough bleeding, heavy periods, bleeding during intercourse, cramping, pain, pain during intercourse, feeling bloated, pressure, fullness, or pain in the abdomen, dull ache in the lower back and thighs, problems passing urine completely….to name just a few.
If you have spotted an enlarged uterus, the first thing to do is have it checked by a gynecologist. An ultrasound would be the first thing ordered to sort this out but if the question remains open, an MRI could also be used.
Read More: Hormonal Imbalance In Women Over Fifty
If the ultrasound came normal and nothing abnormal was found, there's a possibility that your uterus is just sitting high in your pelvis, so that you can feel it. This is usually due to scarring from previous surgery, endometriosis or infection.
You could be also feeling a full bladder. It may be the bladder you are feeling or the uterus, which does rise out of the pelvis a bit with a full bladder. If you feel a bulge, try emptying your bladder and see if it gets smaller.
The uterus size is fairly small, it measures about three or four inches in length, which is a size of a clenched fist or a small apple. In pregnancy, the size of the uterus changes as the baby grows and this organ can expand up to 12 inches in length. So, make sure you are not pregnant.
Two conditions that often cause an enlarged uterus are fibroids and adenomyosis.
Fibroids are the most common benign tumor of a woman’s uterus. They grow on the outside, inside or within the smooth muscle in the wall of the uterus. Fibroids may grow as a single tumor or in clusters. Fibroids can be as small as a pea and can grow as large as a melon. It is estimated that 20-50% of women have, or will have, fibroids at some time in their lives. The most common symptoms of fibroids are excessive menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain and pressure that can additionally cause frequent urination, pain during intercourse, constipation, abdominal bloating and abdominal pain or backache and of course enlarged uterus. Fibroids can make a women look pregnant although she is not.
Your doctor may decide to overlook the fibroids if they are small or try to remove them if they grow too much. The treatment should be thoroughly thought and discussed with your gynecologist. It includes myomectomy or in severe cases hysterectomy, which should be the last resort.
Adenomyosis is a condition similar to endometriosis. In Adenomyosis, the tissue that normally lines the uterus (endometrium) also grows within the muscular walls of the uterus. This usually occurs late in the childbearing years and after you've had children.
Adenomyosis is generally harmless but can be extremely painful. Other symptoms include heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, severe cramping or sharp pain during menstruation, pain during intercourse, bleeding between periods, passing blood clots during your period, tender lower abdomen or it could be silent but make your uterus bulge. This condition resolves after menopause most of the time, so the treatment should be decided on depending on how close to menopause you are. Treatment may include anti-inflammatory drugs, a hormonal therapy or in severe cases hysterectomy, which is the only permanent solution.
Ovarian cysts could also be blamed for your enlarged uterus. Ovarian cysts, like any other cysts, are fluid-filled sacs. The most common type of ovarian cyst is called a functional cyst, which often forms during the normal menstrual cycle but there are also other types such as endometriomas (they develop in women who have endometriosis), cystadenomas (that can become large and cause pain), dermoid cysts (these too can become large and cause pain) and polycystic ovaries.
Many women don't have any symptoms but those that do have symptoms wish them gone as soon as possible. The most common symptoms are pressure, fullness, or pain in the abdomen, dull ache in the lower back and thighs, problems with passing urine, pain during sexual intercourse, weight gain, painful menstrual periods and abnormal bleeding, nausea or vomiting and breast tenderness.
Most cysts resolve on their own but gynecologists usually track their progress. Beside watchful waiting, the treatments include birth control pills or surgery to remove the cyst.
Endometrial (uterine) cancer
Endometrial (uterine) cancer could be to blame too. Cancer of the uterus occurs mostly in women over age 50. Other risk factors include having endometrial hyperplasia, using hormone replacement therapy, being obese and suffering from obesity-related disorders, taking Tamoxifen to prevent or treat breast cancer, or suffering from inherited colorectal cancer. The symptoms of uterine cancer include unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge, troubles urinating, pelvic pain and pain during intercourse. Treatment varies depending on your overall health, how advanced the cancer is and whether hormones affect its growth. Treatment is usually a hysterectomy, which is surgery to remove the uterus. Other options include hormone therapy and radiation.
As you have probably noticed, many of these symptoms overlap, so you never can tell for sure what your problem is. Regular gynecologist check-ups and timely interventions will save you from dealing with these annoying symptoms and help you take care of the problems on time.