Understanding the Uterus
To best understand infertility, it is necessary to understand the organs that make fertility possible. The uterus is one part of the female reproductive system that is designed to provide a home to a developing fetus and bring them into the world. The uterus is a very busy organ and many things must come to pass if a fertilized egg is to implant and develop within. To better understand how a pregnancy is carried to term, it is imperative to educate yourself on the anatomy and function of the uterus.
What Is The Uterus
The uterus is the organ in the female reproductive system that nourishes and enables an implanted embryo to develop into a fetus and causes the baby to move through the vagina at birth. It is approximately two to three inches long, and varies in width from two inches at the fundus (the top) to one inch at the isthmus (the bottom). It consists of four major parts: the fundus, the body, the isthmus, and the cervix. The fundus is located at the top of the uterus and is connected to the fallopian tubes. The body of the uterus begins below the opening for the fallopian tubes. This is generally where the fetus will implant and this portion of the uterus stretches to accommodate the developing baby. The body extends until it reaches the isthmus, or neck of the uterus. The isthmus begins to close the uterus off where it becomes the cervix. This opens into the vagina and makes up what is commonly known as the birth canal. The uterus is made up of strong, and fibrous muscle tissues that work together to contract and begin the birthing process. While the structure of the uterus is of the utmost importance, it’s what’s going on inside that has most couples perplexed and worried.
The inner workings of the uterus are fascinating. First, the walls of this organ are made up of three layers of muscle tissue. These muscles are able to expand and thin while there is a child developing inside and shrink back down to size within six to eight weeks of delivery. The inner wall of the uterus is covered in a mucous membrane we call the endometrium. This tissue is in a constant flux depending on the hormones in the woman’s body. Every menstrual cycle the endometrium thickens to prepare for the possible implantation of a fertilized ovum. If no embryo is conceived during the peak of this thickening (ovulation) the tissue will slough off and exit the body. If an embryo does implant into the endometrium, this tissue will provide the developing fetus with all it needs to grow and thrive – water, iron, glucose, proteins, and so on – via the bloodstream. This cycle will continue until the woman reaches the end of her reproductive years (menopause.)
The Uterus and Fertility Issues
There are many issues that can cause infertility that stem from the uterus. First, issues with the hormones estrogen and progesterone can cause abnormal menstrual cycles and therefore can make the uterus inhospitable for a developing embryo. If fertility testing discovers that hormone imbalances are the cause of infertility, hormone therapy has proved effective in treating this condition. Uterine fibroids are another common obstacle that can physically prevent the uterus from allowing the implantation of an embryo. Scar tissue and adhesions from previous surgeries and infections in the endometrium can all cause the uterus to reject embryos. Often with the skill of an experienced surgeon, scar tissues, fibroids and infections can be removed and a woman will be able to achieve pregnancy. Congenital uterine conditions can also cause infertility for many women. The uterus is created during gestation and remains very small until puberty. Often these defects aren’t realized until a woman is actively trying to become pregnant and seeks the help of a fertility doctor. These types of conditions are called mullerian anomalies and, as you can imagine, are vast and may prevent a woman from ever becoming pregnant.
To discover the cause of infertility, it is important to contact your Viera, Florida fertility specialist. He will be able to provide every diagnostic test available to discover the source of your particular fertility issues. Discovering that your issues lie in your uterus will help Dr. Chamoun create a treatment plan that can help you achieve pregnancy.