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Anatomy Featured Health & Wellness

OBG(WHY)N: Understanding the Uterus

July 28, 2016

The uterus: we know it, we love it, but like most of our anatomy, many people have some questions about what exactly happens down (and in) there. We’ve got the answers!

What exactly is the uterus?
The uterus is a major organ in the female reproductive system. Also known as our womb, this is the place where offspring are conceived and grow or, if that’s not the plan, it’s where unfertilized eggs disintegrate.

Where is the uterus it located?
The uterus is located in the pelvic area between the bladder and the rectum. It consists of three layers called the endometrium (inner layer), myometrium (middle layer), and perimetrium (outer layer). The fallopian tubes, cervix (and vagina) are connected to the uterus.

Why do we have a uterus?
The uterus houses the pregnancy when a fetus is developing. When a woman has her period, the uterus has an important job too. During a woman’s cycle, the ovary releases an egg that travels down the fallopian tube and lands in the uterus. If the egg is not fertilized by a sperm, it disintegrates and sloughs off with the lining of the uterus in the form of vaginal bleeding.

What are the uterine phases in a woman’s cycle?
The uterus plays a big role in the female menstruation cycle. There are two uterine phases: the proliferative phase and the secretory phase.

  • The proliferative phase is part of the early cycle, days 5 through day 14. During this phase, the uterine lining is thickening.
  • In the secretory phase, occurring after ovulation, days 14 through 28. If the egg is not fertilized, the woman’s hormones, estrogen and progesterone drop, and the uterine lining is shed through the period, or menses.

What does it mean to have a fibroid on your uterus?
A fibroid is a noncancerous tumor on the uterus and occurs in about 20% of women ages 20-50. The doctor usually can feel the fibroid on a pelvic exam, and then most do an ultrasound to confirm. Usually, they do not cause women any problems, but, they sometimes can cause pain. There is a no known cause for fibroids, but many believe it has something to do with the levels of the progesterone and estrogen hormones in women.

How does the uterus help in delivering a baby?
The myometrium, or middle layer of the uterus, helps deliver a fetus through the cervix because it is the muscle layer of the uterus. Contractions squeeze the uterus to help move the fetus down into the vagina.

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