What is Uterus?

The uterus, otherwise known as the womb, is the female sex organ that carries a huge significance in many species’ survival – ours included. The uterus itself is a hollow organ that is shaped in the form of a pear, and interestingly enough measures about that size.The uterus sits quite low in the abdomen and is held in position by muscles, ligaments and fibrous tissues. The uterus is joined to the vagina by the cervix that is also called the neck of the womb.

What Does the Uterus Do?

The uterus is composed of three tissue layers. Post-pubescent women will have an innermost endometrium, which is the layer of muscle that is shed when the menstrual cycle commences in non-pregnant women. The endometrial tissue will thicken as the month’s cycle goes by in preparation for a fertilized egg to implant itself there. But in the absence of a fertilized egg, this layer will simply be shed away in what we know as menstruation. The middle muscle layer is called the myometrium, and is the layer that will expand during pregnancy and contract during childbirth. The outermost layer, the parametrium, will likewise expand and contract at these stages. Expanding will allow the uterus to house a growing baby, while the contractions will facilitate the newborn’s exit from the womb.

Uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that originate in the uterus (womb). Although they are composed of the same smooth muscle fibers as the uterine wall (myometrium), they are much denser than normal myometrium.Uterine fibroids are growths in or on the walls of the uterus. Uterine fibroids are usually round. In most cases, fibroids do not cause pain or other symptoms. However, exceptionally large fibroids may cause pressure on the bladder or other organs.

A person may have one or multiple fibroids. They can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit (or sometimes even larger than that). They can also shrink or grow over time.

Fibroids are more common from age 30 to the age at which menopause begins. They usually shrink after menopause. Between 20% and 80% of females develop fibroids by the age of 50, according to the Office on Women’s Health (OWH).

The three main types of fibroid are:

  • Subserosal fibroids: These are the most common type. They grow on the outside of the uterus.
  • Intramural fibroids: These grow inside the muscular wall of the uterus.
  • Submucosal fibroids: These grow into the open space inside the uterus.
A New Understanding of Uterine Fibroids - Health Answers | Everyday Health


Most of the time, uterine fibroids do not cause symptoms or problems, and a woman with a fibroid is usually unaware of its presence.

However, abnormal uterine bleeding is the most common symptom of a fibroid. If the tumors are near the uterine lining, or interfere with the blood flow to the lining, they can cause heavy periods, painful periods, prolonged periods, or spotting between menses. Women with excessive bleeding due to fibroids may develop iron deficiency anemia. Uterine fibroids that are degenerating can sometimes cause severe, localized pain.

Fibroids can also cause a number of symptoms depending on their size, location within the uterus, and how close they are to adjacent pelvic organs. Large fibroids can cause:

  • pressure
  • pelvic pain, including pain during sex
  • pressure on the bladder with frequent or even obstructed urination
  • pressure on the rectum with painful or difficult defecation.
Uterine Fibroids Symptoms - Signs And Symptoms Of Fibroids | 8 Warning  Signs Of Uterine Fibroids - YouTube


It remains unclear exactly what causes fibroids. Their development may be linked with the person’s estrogen levels

  • During a person’s reproductive years, estrogen and progesterone levels are higher. When estrogen levels are high, especially during pregnancy, fibroids tend to swell.
  • Low estrogen levels are associated with the shrinkage of fibroids. This can occur during and after menopause. It can also occur when taking certain medications, such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists or antagonists.
  • Genetic factors may also affect the development of fibroids. For example, having a close relative with fibroids is associated with an increased risk of developing them oneself.
  • There is also evidence to suggest that red meat, alcohol, and caffeine are associated with an increased risk of fibroids. An increased intake of fruit and vegetables may be linked with a reduced risk.
  • Overweight and obesity are associated with an increased risk of fibroids.

Uterine cancer

Uterine cancer is the most common cancer occurring in a woman’s reproductive system. Uterine cancer begins when healthy cells in the uterus change and grow out of control, forming a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be cancerous or benign. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor can grow but generally will not spread into other tissues.

File:Cervical-cancer.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Uterine cancer types

Uterine cancer has two primary types that develop in different parts of the uterus:

  • Endometrial cancer develops in the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. This is the most common type of uterine cancer, accounting for more than 90 percent of cases.
  • Uterine sarcoma is a rarer type of uterine cancer, and forms in the muscles or other tissues of the uterus.
  • Cervical cancer develops in the lower part of the uterus, the cervix, and is not a type of uterine cancer.


The most common symptom of womb cancer is unusual (abnormal) bleeding from the vagina, although most people with abnormal bleeding do not have cancer.

It may start as light bleeding and a watery discharge, which may get heavier over time. Most women diagnosed with womb cancer have been through the menopause, so any vaginal bleeding will be unusual.

In women who have not been through the menopause, unusual vaginal bleeding may be:

  • periods that are heavier than usual
  • vaginal bleeding in between normal periods
  • Less common symptoms include pain in the lower abdomen (tummy) and pain during sex.

If womb cancer reaches a more advanced stage, it may cause additional symptoms. These include:

  • pain in the back, legs or pelvis
  • loss of appetite
  • tiredness
  • nausea


  • Age :The risk of womb cancer increases with age. Most cases occur in women aged 40 to 74, with only 1% of cases being diagnosed in women under 40.
  • Being overweight or obese: As oestrogen can be produced in fatty tissue, being overweight or obese increases the level of oestrogen in your body. This significantly increases your chances of developing womb cancer.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are at a higher risk of developing womb cancer, as they have high levels of oestrogen in their bodies.
  • Endometrial hyperplasia occurs when the endometrium, the lining of the uterus, becomes too thick. It is not cancer, but in some cases, it can lead to cancer of the uterus.



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