The uterus is a part of your reproductive organs that includes the vagina, ovaries and fallopian tubes. This little pear-shaped organ is essential to creating and sustaining life. Here are eight fascinating facts about your uterus you may not have known about…
1. Some women have more than one uterus…
In a condition known as uterus didelphys, some women have two uteruses. About one in 2,000 women are known to have this condition, but some women who don’t even know they have it. It happens when the foetus was developing in the mother’s womb: In normal development, her uterus starts out as two small tubes, but join to create a larger hollow organ. In uterus didelphys, the two tubes each develop into a separate structure.
In 2012, a woman from Buffalo, New York, gave birth to twin boys, one from each uterus. As the babies had grown from separately fertilised eggs, they were fraternal twins. They were likely conceived at the same time, though there’s a chance one may be a couple of days older than the other.
Everything, from the common cold, to a sore throat to body aches was blamed on the “wandering womb”.
2. … And some have none
It’s also possible that some women ― 1 in 4,500 –―are born without a uterus. These women will likely find out about their condition when they fail to get their period at puberty. They are usually perfectly healthy, except that they can’t menstruate or get pregnant.
3. In the past, it was thought to be the cause of all women’s health problems
The ancient Egyptians and Greeks used to believe that any affliction that befell women then was due to their uterus “wandering” around their body, causing all kinds of emotional and physical illnesses.
Everything, from the common cold, to a sore throat to body aches was blamed on the “wandering womb”. The Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, believed that this was the reason why women were so different from men.
4. It was also known as the counterpart to the male scrotum
Another bizarre belief that people held, right up to the early 18th century, was that women’s reproductive parts mirrored the reproductive parts of men ― that they were essentially the same thing.
Some 2,000 years ago, the Greek physician Galen of Pergamon believed that the vagina is the equivalent of an inverted penis, the ovaries are the woman’s “testes”, and the labia is her “foreskin”. And her uterus? The scrotum.
5. It's super-stretchy
This might not come as a surprise, since you know that your uterus houses your growing foetus during pregnancy. For a non-pregnant woman, the uterus measures about 7.5cm long and 5cm wide ― around the size of a small pear. During pregnancy, the uterus expands to more than 500 times the original size, to that of a large watermelon.
6. It may play a role in sexual stimulation
Most of us think that you experience an orgasm, thanks to your clitoris, vagina and of course, the G-spot. But for some women, the key to climaxing lies in stimulating the cervix, where the uterus meets the vagina. This way, they experience deep pleasure from their uterus during an orgasm.
How sex feels can also be determined by the position of your uterus. While most women’s uteruses are tipped slightly forward, about 20 per cent of women have their tipped slightly backwards, in a condition called a retroverted uterus. While it shouldn’t cause any problems, some sex positions, like Doggy Style, may feel a little uncomfortable or painful.
For some women, the key to climaxing lies in stimulating the cervix, where the uterus meets the vagina.
7. In the uterus, your baby can taste what you eat
If you’re getting lots of strange cravings during your pregnancy, guess what? Your baby will get a taste of these foods while in your womb. The amniotic fluid inside the uterus during pregnancy changes flavour in tandem with mummy’s food choices, according to one study.
And bubba is quick to show his preferences, too ― at 15 to 16 weeks after conception, your baby starts to show a preference for sweeter tastes by swallowing more amniotic fluid when it’s sweet, and less when it’s bitter. These in-utero experiences shape food preferences for newborns at birth, as well as during weaning.
8. It helps you form your first connection with your baby
You know that your baby forms in the uterus, but it’s so much more than just a breeding spot for bubba. The uterus is where bubba first hears the muffled sounds of your voice at around 20 to 25 weeks, and here is where he recognises the steady beat of your heart – which is why he will love resting on your chest as a newborn.
Your in-utero baby will also be able to feel your emotions through the umbilical cord. Feeling stressed? Adrenaline and cortisol will be passed on to your baby. Feeling happy? Your contented bub will receive lots of endorphins and serotonin.
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