What Is the Uterus?

The uterus can expand to accommodate a growing fetus.
Gynecologists are fully qualified medical doctors who specialize in women's reproductive system health.
The primary function of the uterus is to provide a safe and nourishing environment for a fetus.
Article Details
  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 04 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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The uterus is part of the female reproductive system that exists within the pelvis. The word "uterus" comes from the Latin word for "womb." During pregnancy, the fetus — or, in the case of twins or multiples, fetuses — develops within the uterus. As the fetus develops, the uterus expands to give necessary room. Humans are not the only creatures that reproduce via a uterus. In fact, the uterus is the major female reproductive organ in most mammals.

On one end of the uterus is the cervix, which opens into the vagina. On the other end, the uterus is connected to the fallopian tubes. There are two fallopian tubes, each of which is connected to one of the two ovaries. During ovulation, which happens once a month in female humans, ovum travel from the ovaries down the fallopian tubes and into the uterus. Ovum are commonly called "eggs" in casual speech. During ovulation, if a sperm reaches the ovum in the uterus, a pregnancy can result.

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If a woman does not get pregnant during her time of ovulation, then she will menstruate. Menstruation is the shedding of lining of the uteran walls. During the month, the uteran walls thicken in order to prepare for a possible pregnancy. In the event that an ovum is fertilized with sperm, then the resulting embryo will become embedded in one of these thickened uteran walls. In the months that a pregnancy does not occur and an embryo does not become embedded in one of the walls, the lining will come loose and express itself through the vagina.

In most cases, the uterus is tucked up above the bladder, which is the reason why many pregnant women find that they have to urinate far more frequently than when they are not expecting. This is because the developing fetus is literally sitting on top of the pregnant mother's bladder. There are some medical conditions in which the uteran placement or angle is abnormal. Sometimes the shape of the organ is unusual. These conditions can lead to difficult sexual function and complications with pregnancies.

After puberty, the entire female reproductive system should be checked for general health by a gynecologist. A gynecologist is a doctor who specializes in the female reproductive system. Although certain reproductive issues may need to be addressed before puberty, some issues do not become apparent until after puberty or when the woman becomes sexually active.

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Discuss this Article

geronimo8
Post 2

I think the uterus is an amazing organ. The fact that it starts out so small and then grows to the size that can hold a baby, and then returns so quickly to its normal size after birth, is just mind blowing!

And the fact that it can do it again and again is even more impressive!

artlover
Post 1

I used to work at a urology office and we saw a lot of women with a condition called a prolapsed uterus. From my understanding, this can happen over time as a women gets older and has had multiple pregnancies and natural births.

One way a women experiencing a slight prolapsed uterus, or a woman who wants to keep her pelvic muscles strong is to do an exercise called kegals.

Her doctor, or even a physical therapist who specializes in women's health, can teach her how to do this.

It's a great first step that can hopefully keep her from having surgery or at least hold off the surgery for a while. My mom does them and has not needed the surgery. I am starting to do them as well, as a proactive step.

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