What is a long uterus?

Although all women are different, the "average" uterus is somewhat pear-shaped and about 3 inches (7.6 cm) in length in the average adult woman. This does not mean that variations in shape and size never occur, or that any variation in shape and size is considered abnormal. Sometimes an ultrasound technician or obstetrician may comment on the size or shape of a patient's uterus, referring to it as a "long uterus." There is no actual medical term or uterine abnormality known as an enlarged uterus, but there are different shapes and sizes as well as abnormalities that can result in an enlarged uterus.

The uterus actually changes shape and size during pregnancy. There are some uterine abnormalities that are usually not detected until pregnancy, or until several miscarriages warrant further examination. Occurring in only a very small percentage of women, some uterine abnormalities that are indicated by the shape of the uterus include unicornuate and bicornuate uteri, uterus didelphys, and T-shaped uterus. These conditions occur during fetal development and simply indicate that the uterus is not was formed correctly. In some cases, an abnormally shaped uterus can be the cause of a miscarriage.

A long uterus simply means a uterus that is longer than average. Conversely, an enlarged uterus may indicate medical complications including misalignment, endometriosis, fibroids, tumors, or a complication or condition that affects surrounding organs such as the bladder.

Most uterine abnormalities, especially those related to the shape and size of the uterus, have no symptoms. They are usually discovered as a result of pregnancy and imaging tests as part of prenatal care. In the case of other gynecological or obstetrical problems, such as ovarian cysts, abnormal Pap tests, and other conditions, an abnormally shaped uterus may be detected during the course of diagnostic tests.

If you know of an abnormal uterine shape and are concerned about how it might affect the pregnancy, you should see an obstetrician. If you experience symptoms such as heavy bleeding, spotting, uterine pain, or irregular menstrual cycles, you should see a doctor. On the other hand, if you have heard the term "long uterus" or vice versa "short uterus", it most likely refers to the comparative average length and not the sign of a reproductive problem. If you have any concerns about the size or shape of your uterus, talk to your doctor to help alleviate any concerns.

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