The most common cause of fluid in the uterus is pregnancy, and in this case it is considered both normal and essential for proper fetal development. In most other circumstances, though, fluid build-up may be a sign of a larger problem. Cervical narrowing, which is known more formally as “cervical stenosis,” is one possible cause, and cysts and growths along the uterine or cervical walls may also be to blame. Infections are another common explanation. Women often don’t know that they are accumulating fluid in their uteruses since it isn’t normally something that can be felt. Medical experts often rely on other complaints, like pain or pressure in the pelvic region, in order to investigate possible fluid build-ups and then look for solutions.
Uterine Fluid Basics
The uterus is a mostly hollow cavity that connects to the vaginal opening through a narrow neck called the cervix. While it’s normal for fluids to pass through this cavity, they don’t normally build up there, and when they do they normally have to be held in by something to prevent them from flowing down through the cervix and out of the body.
“Fluid” in this context is usually though of as water or some other water-based liquid. Sometimes blood is included, too, but normal menstrual blood isn’t usually considered a fluid build-up. Most healthy women will experience a shedding of the uterine walls once a month, and while this could be seen as a technical instance of “fluid in the uterus,” it isn’t normally included in the discussion unless it is accumulating and not flowing out in a normal fashion.
One of the most common causes of fluid accumulation is pregnancy. Once an egg is fertilized, it is surrounded by a sac. This sac is filled with amniotic fluid that acts as a source of nutritional support and protection for the developing fetus, and grows as the developing baby does. When the child is born, the sac usually bursts or is ruptured and the fluid escapes, a phenomenon commonly known as the woman’s “water breaking.”
Another possible cause unrelated to pregnancy is cervical stenosis, a medical condition in which the cervix narrows or constricts. This can make it very difficult for fluids to escape or flow out of the uterus, and over time it can lead to extensive pooling and damage to the uterine walls. Cervical stenosis is often a symptom of aging, and is most common in women who are going through or who have recently completed menopause.
Cysts and Growths
Fluid is also commonly trapped if cysts or other masses grow in such a way that they block the uterine opening. Cysts are benign growths that can occur in various areas of the body, and in many instances they are actually filled with fluid themselves. In the uterus they sometimes attach to the walls in response to certain hormonal triggers, or they may just be genetic. They aren’t usually anything to worry about until they grow large enough to be problematic, or if they occur in places where they can cause blockages.
Women who have serious hormonal imbalances may also experience a condition known as “polycystic ovarian syndrome,” which is characterized by cysts on the ovaries that in many cases block eggs from being dropped, either on time or at all. Sometimes this condition can also lead to fluid, particularly if the cysts are numerous and prone to rupturing. Fibroids and polyps, two other types of growths, might also contribute.
Tissue that has become infected or inflamed may also be a cause. In these cases the body will normally try to rush fluids to the site of the infection or injury in an attempt to flush the harmful material out. Depending on the nature of the ailment, though, these fluids may do more harm than good. Pelvic inflammatory disease is one of the most common examples, and damage related to a complicated pregnancy or delivery is frequently a cause, too.
Treatment and Diagnosis
It can be difficult to diagnose fluid in the uterus without some other symptom like bloating, pain, or nausea. In the absence of pregnancy, it is not normally considered normal and should be checked out by a gynecologist or other specialized healthcare provider. Just because it’s abnormal doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s harmful, but it’s usually a good idea to rule out possible complications as early as possible. Fluid build-up is sometimes just a temporary response to stress or hormone spike, and it may go away on its own. In most cases the only way to know for sure, though, is for a person to submit to an exam.
Most care providers will perform a pelvic exam, an X-ray, or an ultrasound in order to get a better sense of what is going on in the uterus. Fluid that is determined to be problematic may need to be drained, often surgically, and if the build-up has caused damage this may have to be repaired or removed, as well.