What is an irritable uterus?

A woman can be said to have an irritable uterus if, during pregnancy, she has irregular contractions that do not cause the cervix to dilate. Although contractions in the second or third trimester can lead to preterm labor, contractions created by an irritable uterus usually don't. Women with this condition are often put on bed rest if the contractions are severe, or prescribed mild pain relievers and allowed to return to normal activity if the pain is manageable. Contractions caused by an irritable uterus may also be called Braxton Hicks contractions or false labor.

Many pregnant women occasionally experience a tightening of the uterus or pain that can feel like the onset of labor. This condition is not abnormal and is not necessarily a cause for alarm. However, if the pain is accompanied by any bleeding, a doctor should be informed immediately. Pain that persists or causes severe, irregular contractions can be a sign of an irritable uterus. The contractions experienced by women with an irritable uterus are different from the contractions that start labor because they do not occur at regular intervals, occur only in the front of the abdomen, and can often be relieved by movement.

An irritable uterus can occur without any cause or it can be caused by various factors. Stress, dehydration, and exercise can cause pain in the uterus. Reducing stress and drinking plenty of fluids can eliminate or reduce symptoms. Women who experience too much discomfort while exercising may decide to take it easy during pregnancy or find exercise routines that do not cause discomfort.

Over-the-counter pain relievers, massage, and rest can ease pain caused by an irritable uterus. Elevating your feet can be especially helpful in reducing symptoms. Some women find that the pain can be relieved by walking or resting in a different position.

It is possible, though rare, for an irritable uterus to lead to preterm labor. A doctor will need to determine if the contractions are causing the cervix to dilate. This can lead to labor and must be monitored so that the life and health of the baby are not compromised. Although these symptoms do not usually lead to any complications, women with this condition are more likely to go into preterm labor than women who do not experience early contractions.

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