What is Double Uterus: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Complications
A double uterus is a very rare condition where a women is born with two separate uterus instead of one. Having two uterus is a type of abnormality that occurs during the development of fetus inside mother's womb. In case of a normal female, a normal uterus develops from a two small tubes that combine together in a female fetus into a fully grown hollow organ. However, in some rare cases, these two small tubes fail to combine together and develop as two separate uterus leading to development of double uterus. This condition is also referred as uterus didelphys.
There can be two different types of double uterus in terms of cervix development. In most cases of double uterus, there is a single common entrance (cervix) into the vagina for both uterus. In other cases, there are two separate cervix, one for each uterine cavity. These two openings to each uterine cavity are separated by a thin membrane of tissue that runs till the end of the opening. Double uterus does not hamper the chances the pregnancy in a woman but there is a high risk of pregnancy complications including premature birth and miscarriage.
Can a Woman Be Born With Two Uteruses?
Double uterus is not normal in a woman but there is always a possibility of such abnormal development of uterus in the womb. It is condition that occurs while the female fetus is developing inside the womb. This condition can cause a woman to have double vaginas separate by a thin membrane. There are surgical methods available to combine two vaginas into one by getting rid of the membrane but it is not a necessity. In fact, most women do not realize any need of surgery or correction as one of the vaginas is bigger than the other. They can lead a normal sexual life and have intercourse using the larger vagina.
Double Uterus and Pregnancy
Pregnancy and double uterus can go together but the risk of complications during pregnancy can be significantly higher as compared to normal scenario. This usually occurs as the uterine cavity is smaller in case of double uterus. There is an increased chances of early birth of child and C-section is required. The risk of complications can be managed by referring to your doctor about your condition.
Causes of Double Uterus
Researchers around the world are still trying to find the causes for this type of abnormal development of double uterus. The actual causes for the development of double uterus are still unknown. Some researchers and doctors believe that it might have something to do with the genes as there are many instances reported where it is a common occurrence in the family.
Symptoms of Double Uterus
It is not easy for a women to realize about this abnormality as there are no significant symptoms to suspect this condition. Some women with double uterus might experience abnormal cramping and pressure during or before periods but it is a common symptom for normal women too.
The condition of double uterus can remain undiscovered until a female starts to have menstrual cycles. Women with double uterus having two separate opening into uterine cavity can discover this condition as putting a tampon into one of the vaginas does not cause bleeding to stop completely. When they approach a doctor for this problem, the condition of double uterus is diagnosed. This condition is usually diagnosed when women reports undergoes frequent miscarriages and approaches a doctor. A doctor during the regular examination of the pelvic can easily detect this condition. Imaging tests conducted during pregnancy can also reveal this abnormality.
Thus, it is important for a woman to see her doctor if the bleeding does not stops during periods even after the use of tampons. Also, women with frequent miscarriages must seek a proper physical and other tests to detect the condition.
Tests to Diagnose Double Uterus
The condition of double uterus is usually suspected during a routine examination of pelvic cavity when a doctor discovers the occurrence of double vaginas or unusual shape of vagina. If a doctor suspects the occurrence of double vagina, the patient is required to undergo a few tests to confirm the condition.
- Ultrasound Test is Conducted to Diagnose Double Uterus: In this method of examination for diagnosing double uterus, high frequency waves are generated using a device called as transducer which is pressed against the body parts to be examined. This same device also captures the sound waves reflected from the abnormal tissues in the body and create an image of the tissue. In special case of transvaginal ultrasound, this transducer is pushed inside vagina to examine any abnormalities in vagina. Modern ultrasounds make use advanced transducers that are capable of producing a 3-D image of the tissue. It is referred as 3-D ultrasound and is more effective than traditional ultrasound.
- Sonohysterogram: This is a special type of ultrasound for diagnosing double uterus in which the uterus is filled with a fluid before carrying out ultrasound scan. Usually a tube is first inserted into the uterus through which the fluid is filled into the uterus. It gives a better view of the vagina to the doctor and helps him in proper diagnoses of condition.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): It is an advanced method of imaging which is more effective than ultrasound for double uterus. It consists of tunnel shaped MRI machine that is open at both the ends. The person to be examined is made to lie on a table that is moved into this tunnel. This tunnel shaped machine produces a combination of radio waves and magnetic waves to produce a 3 dimensional image of the complete body.
- Hysterosalpingography for Double Uterus Diagnosis: This method of examination make use of a dark colored dye which is filled into the uterus which is followed by taking X rays of the reproductive organs. As the uterus is filled with colored dye, a clear image of the shape of uterus can be observed in the images taken by the X-rays.
Treatment for Double Uterus
Usually, treatment is not required in case of double uterus unless a patients is experiencing any signs of symptoms. There are surgical methods available that can fuse two tubes into one but it is not usually required. Some women facing complications in pregnancy without any known reasons can be benefitted by this surgery and reduce pregnancy complications. Surgery is applicable only in those cases of double uterus where there are two separate vaginas separated by a membrane.
Risk Factors for Double Uterus
There are no general risk factors associated with a condition of double uterus under normal circumstances. A woman can lead a normal life without risk of medical complications. The risk factors do not arise until a women becomes pregnant. It can increase the risk of miscarriages in case of pregnant women. Also, there is an increased risk of complications related to pregnancy.
Complications of Double Uterus
Complications in case of a women with double uterus may occur during delivery and pregnancy. However, it is not necessary for a women to experience any complications at any stage of her life including pregnancy. They may enjoy normal sex lives just like other women. The most common complications that are known to occur in a women with double uterus are as follows:
- Birth of a baby before completion of pregnancy.
- Possibility of infertility.
- Complications in kidney.
- Frequent miscarriages.