Have you been diagnosed with a bicornuate uterus? It may be affecting your ability to become or remain pregnant. A bicornuate uterus is described as one having protrusions at the top of either side of the womb, sometimes giving the uterus a distinct heart-shape (see picture). It is actually a birth defect, so if you do have the condition, it is not due to something you have done or are doing wrong. Likewise, there is no way to correct the condition.
There are many degrees of bicornuate uteri, and the degree can determine the likeliness of a pregnancy reaching full-term. Some women carry their pregnancies fully without their doctor even realizing that they have the condition. Other times, a bicornuate condition is detected early, when the mother feels cramping or spotting, for instance. It can be detected with an ultrasound scan. Anomalies such as this reportedly occur in only 0.1-0.5% of women in the U.S. but are estimated to be slightly higher since the lesser degrees often go undiagnosed.
The reason that a pregnancy may not reach full-term in a bicornuate uterus often happens when the baby begins to grow in either of the protrusions at the top. The pregnancy will usually end in a miscarriage because there is not enough room for baby to grow there. As a normal uterus will expand with a growing baby, the septum area of the bicornuate uterus cannot expand enough to accommodate growth. According to research, there is a 55 -63% fetal survival rate associated with the condition.
If the baby happens to implant itself in the largest part of the uterus, it will have a chance of growing to full-term. However these babies often find themselves in an abnormal presentation, such as breech or transverse, since they may find it difficult to fit comfortably in a head-down position. The larger the baby grows the more likely this will be, thus there is a 15-25% rate of preterm delivery of these infants. Because of this and other factors, a pregnant woman with a bicornuate uterus will most likely be considered high-risk.
The condition may also cause fetal growth retardation, which is defined as having less than ten percent of fetal weight according to gestational age of the baby, but this is rare. More often, the baby will simply not survive or it will thrive normally but deliver prematurely. Sometimes various other birth defects of the baby can result.
How has having a bicornuate uterus affected your fertility?
For more information on infertility and conception issues, see the following: