Otherwise known as didelphic uterus, a double uterus is a condition, wherein the affected woman has two uteri. Here is a brief overview about this uterine malformation, which is very rare.
Uterine malformations are not that common, but recent surveys show that around 7% of the female population has such conditions. There are different types of uterine malformations, like absence of uterus, septated uterus, double uterus, and bicornuate uterus. A double uterus is a condition, wherein the affected woman has two uteri with separate cervices, and sometimes with a double vagina too. Each uterus will be connected to the ovary on its side, through the fallopian tube. This type of malformation is rare, as compared to others, like bicornuate and septated uterus.
A double uterus is a congenital condition, which develops during the embryonic stage itself. In normal cases, the uterus is formed during the embryonic development, as a result of the fusion between two mullerian ducts. In other words, uterus is formed by the fusion of two small tubes to a single chamber, during the embryonic stage. In some cases, the ducts fail to fuse, resulting in two uteri. While 4% of the female population with normal pregnancies have uterine abnormalities, 5% of them have a double uterus. Studies show that the chances of having such a malformation is higher in women with recurrent miscarriages or premature births. According to statistics, around 0.1 to 0.5% of the female population in the United States, has this condition.
What are the Symptoms?
It has been observed that some women with a double uterus do not experience any symptom, even after pregnancy and childbirth. However, studies show that in most cases of didelphic uterus, the affected women have problems, like severe and unusual pain during and before menstruation (dysmenorrhea), painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia), and abnormal blood flow during periods. It is also suggested that, complications include problems of the renal system. Sometimes, the skeleton may also get affected. The condition is also associated with infertility, miscarriage, and premature birth. However, there is no known cause for this condition.
Double Uterus and Pregnancy
Women with this type of uterine malformation may face difficulties in conceiving and completing the full term of pregnancy. Such complications may vary from one woman to another. While some women do not face any difficulty in conceiving, completing the full term, and childbirth; some others experience recurrent miscarriages, due to this malformation. Pregnancy complications, like second trimester pregnancy loss and premature birth may also happen. It may also result in the abnormal position of the baby in the uterus.
In some cases, the affected women may have two fully developed uteri, which can ensure normal pregnancy. If the uterus with the fetus is underdeveloped or has an underdeveloped cervix, then miscarriage or premature birth may occur. Sometimes the condition can be detected through a pelvic examination. However, advanced methods, like hysterosalpingogram, ultrasound, and MRI are used for diagnosis. The findings have to be confirmed with hysteroscopy or laparoscopy, so as to determine the exact nature of the uterus in individual cases. In short, in case of women with a double uterus, pregnancy may or may not cause complications, as per individual cases.
No treatment is required for this condition, but if it is causing health problems, surgery may be suggested. Surgery is done to fuse the two uteri or remove the underdeveloped one. In other cases, the affected woman has to be extra cautious during pregnancy, and act as per the instructions of her health care provider.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.