Uterine malformations are congenital defects of a woman’s uterus. They are not uncommon, occurring in about 5 percent of women. However, they do tend to have a negative impact on a woman’s ability to carry a pregnancy to full term. It’s estimated that around 1 in 4 women who have had recurring miscarriages or delivered prematurely have a uterine malformation.
Uterine malformations occur due to a birth defect. In the womb, female infants develop two separate halves of their uterus that merge together before birth. If the two halves fail to merge completely, the woman may be born with a malformed uterus.
There are five types of uterine malformations:
The uterus appears normal from the outside but has a very small (1cm or less) indentation protruding from the top of the uterine cavity. This is generally unproblematic. It is simply considered a different, but perfectly normal, type of uterus.
This uterus is considered heart-shaped. It has a deep indentation at the top of the uterus, forming an overall shape of a heart.
This uterus appears normal from the outside, but it contains an internal septum that divides the uterine cavity into 2 smaller cavities.
The two halves of the uterus are completely separate.
Only one-half of the uterus is well-developed.
The bicornuate and septate abnormalities are the most common, while didelphys and unicornate tend to be much rarer.
Symptoms of Uterine Malformations
Uterine malformations usually present with no symptoms at all. Some women with malformed uteruses don’t have difficulty getting pregnant and do not usually discover their unusually shaped uterus until they have a prenatal ultrasound. Others may be diagnosed during an infertility evaluation.
Treatment for Uterine Malformations
The only treatment option for a uterine malformation is surgery, but you may not need it. Uterine malformations may contribute to fertility problems, but many women with the condition have healthy, successful pregnancies, with or without surgery.
Your OB-GYN will recommend surgery only if it will make it easier and safer for you to carry out your plans for pregnancy. Your doctor will evaluate your particular malformation to determine the best course of action. Surgery is usually recommended if a woman with a septate uterus is having difficulty with infertility or pregnancy loss. Surgery is usually not recommended for women with unicornate, bicornate, or didelphic malformations.