Complications of an enlarged uterus are normally due to the disease or condition responsible for the enlarged uterus. Usually, an enlarged uterus is caused by one of two conditions: noncancerous tumors called fibroids or adenomyosis, a thickening of the uterine wall. Unless caused by a malignant tumor, complications of an enlarged uterus are rarely life-threatening. The condition can negatively affect quality of life, however.
Infertility is a complication of an enlarged uterus caused by fibroids or adenomyosis. The condition can also cause a woman to miscarry. It is possible, though, for a woman with an enlarged uterus to carry a child to term. An article in the August 2007 issue of “Fertility and Sterility,” described how doctors used magnetic resonance imaging-guided focused ultrasound, or MRgFUS surgery, to reconstruct a woman’s uterus, allowing her to successfully become pregnant and deliver a healthy child 1.
Pelvic Pressure or Pain
An enlarged uterus can place painful pressure upon the intestines or bladder. The condition can also cause constipation, frequent urination, incontinence, bloating and gas or pelvic cramps. The pain can often be treated with over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen, but surgery may be necessary if the pressure affects urination or defecation.
Women with an enlarged uterus can experience menstrual bleeding so heavy that iron supplements are necessary to prevent anemia. Fibroids can enlarge blood vessels inside the uterus, increasing the amount of blood expelled during menstruation. Adenomyosis, which can cause the uterus to triple in size, can cause not only heavy bleeding during menstruation, but also bleeding between periods and the passing of blood clots.
A prolapsed uterus extends through the birth canal and protrudes outside the body. Normally, the condition is triggered by obesity or multiple births. On rare occasions, a uterus enlarged by fibroids may prolapse. The condition is not life-threatening, but if a woman’s quality of life is adversely affected, she may choose to treat the condition with surgery to repair the prolapsed or remove the uterus.
- “Fertility and Sterility”; Focused Ultrasound Surgery of Intramural Leiomyomas may Facilitate Fertility; Miriam M.F. Hanstede, M.D.; August 2007
- Jose Luis Pelaez Inc../Blend Images/Getty Images