There are many symptoms of a swollen uterus. The type of symptoms a woman experiences will depend on what causes the enlarged uterus. General symptoms include swelling of the abdomen, irregular bleeding, and pain in the pelvic region. Uterine fibroids, endometrial cancer, ovarian cysts, and adenomyosis are the four causes of this condition.

Uterine fibroids are one of the most common causes of a swollen uterus. These non-cancerous growths can occur in the uterine wall, on the outside, or on the inside of the uterus and affecting as many as eight in 10 women by the age of 50. Fibroids more commonly affect women over age 30. They are also more common in African-Americans than whites. Overweight and obese women also have a greater risk of developing fibroids. Hormonal and genetic factors contribute to their growth. Symptoms of uterine fibroids may include

  • Feeling of fullness or pressure in the lower abdomen
  • Heavy, painful, and/or long-lasting periods, sometimes with the passage of blood clots
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pregnancy or delivery complications

If symptoms are severe, treatment may involve a procedure called embolism to cut off the blood supply to the fibroids so that they shrink and eventually die, or surgery to remove the fibroids or the entire uterus (hysterectomy). Other treatments include endometrial ablation (when the inside lining of the uterus is removed) and myolysis (when freezing or an electric current is used to destroy the fibroids). Medications to help control painful periods or for pain may also be used.

Adenomyosis A swollen uterus may be caused by adenomyoosis. Adenomyosis is a condition that occurs when endometrial tissue grows into the muscular wall of the uterus, instead of staying confined to the lining of the uterus. The exact cause of adenoymosis is unknown. It is treatable through various methods but the only cure for the condition is a hysterectomy. Otherwise the condition is said to disappear after menopause. Symptoms can include heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, severe cramping during menstruation, and pain during intercourse.

Most women have some adenomyosis at the end of their childbearing years. Most don’t require treatment, but some need medication to relieve pain. Birth control pills and an intrauterine device (IUD) containing progesterone may help decrease heavy bleeding. Younger women with severe symptoms may need a hysterectomy to relieve symptoms.

Menorrhagia is also one of the most common general symptoms associated with a swollen uterus and this is abnormal menstrual bleeding. Bleeding can be in large amounts, intermittent, or cause periods that last longer than a normal period.

Sudden weight gain is another symptom of a swollen uterus. A woman’s weight tends to fluctuate naturally in small increments as a response to the menstrual cycle or hormone changes. When there’s no logical or explainable reason for this weight gain, an enlarged uterus may be the cause.

Properly diagnosing a swollen uterus is important. The right cause of the swelling is necessary in order to create a successful treatment plan. Diagnosis can be reached through various testing, including blood tests, laparoscopy, and endometrial biopsies.

Other possible causes of an enlarged uterus include:

Pelvic congestion syndrome. Rather than a disease, this is a collection of symptoms including chronic dull pain, pressure, and heaviness in the pelvis that worsen after long periods of standing or during or just after sexual intercourse. Although the exact cause is unknown, it is believed to be associated with varicose veins in the abdomen that develop during pregnancy and continue to grow over time. Pain medications or a procedure to block off the affected veins may relieve symptoms.

Contraceptive use. Use of both intrauterine devices (IUDs) and birth control pills can cause swelling or thickening of the uterine walls, resulting in an enlarged uterus.

Cancer. In some cases, an enlarged uterus can be a symptom of uterine cancers, including endometrial cancer (affecting the lining of the uterus) and cervical cancer (affecting the lower portion of the uterus where it joins the vagina). Treatment depends on the location, the extent of the cancer, and other factors.

Treatments will vary depending on the exact cause of the swelling. Hormonal therapy, radiation or chemotherapy, and surgery are common treatments for cancer. Other treatments are limited to prescription medications to reduce pain and inflammation for causes that are unknown.

Ovarian cysts are another cause of a swollen uterus. In this instance, an unhealthy uterus is not the problem. Cysts growing on or inside the ovaries cause the inflamed response of the uterus. Many occurrences of ovarian cysts do not cause symptoms and go undetected. When uterine swelling occurs, doctors look for ovarian cysts as a cause.


Posted in General Health, Medicine

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