By: Jean Johnson for Uterus1
“After discovering on my wedding night that sexual intercourse was exceedingly painful – like not only in my abdomen, but clear behind all the way through my lower back – I just chalked it up to being a virgin and figured it would improve,” said Maggie Flynn of Bozeman, Montana, speaking under an assumed name.
|If you think you may have a tilted uterus…|
Visit the doctor: A family physician can determine if a woman has a tilted uterus in routine pelvic exam.
Tips for managing sexual intercourse pain associated with a tilted uterus include:
Trying positions that allow the woman more control and the ability to minimize deep penile thrusting
Trying to increase the length of time during intercourse so that it is less physically vigorous
Using long lasting lubricants
“But when it turned into a regular ordeal, I began to wonder. After all, here I was a new bride and so in love, and I dreaded having sex with my husband. Finally I said something to a friend – mind you this was back 30 years ago when we didn’t talk about these things quite as openly as they do these days. Anyway, she didn’t have any ideas, so I eventually got around to telling my mother. Mom didn’t have a clue either, but she did put the pressure on me to get into the doctor like only a mother can do.”
After she visited her physician’s office, Flynn found out that she was among the 20 percent of women who have a tilted uterus. This condition – also referred to as a tipped uterus or retroversion of the uterus – is a relatively benign one in which the uterus lies tipped backwards toward the back of the pelvis instead of sitting in a normal upright position in the abdomen. The backward tilt compresses the uterus and thus during sexual intercourse, the tip of the penis causes pain as it presses on the cervix and uterus.
“One of the first questions the doctor asked me was about my periods – whether they were painful or not. And sure enough, my answer was affirmative. As a teen I hated it when my friends didn’t miss a beat with their periods and I’d have all this trouble and even have to stay home from school. Sometimes I even felt like I was just neurotic. One of those girls that can’t take a thing,” Flynn said. “So for me, finally discovering that there was a reason for all my female trouble was a relief.”
Initially Flynn and her husband tried to manage by trying various sexual positions. “He even tried to not thrust so deeply, bless his heart,” she said. “But what are you going to do when you’re aroused? It was hard. It was tough on both of us.
“Also I tried exercises the doctor recommended – bending my knees up to my chest and hugging them in there to encourage my uterus to reposition itself. That didn’t really help I don’t think, since the doctor eventually recommended surgery.”
The surgical procedure, called uterine suspension, shortens ligaments that hold the uterus in place. As in Flynn’s case, some women are born with lax ligaments that do not hold the uterus in an upright position. In other situations, various medical problems including fibroids, endometriosis, or pelvic inflammatory disease can result in the ligaments stretching so much that the uterus tilts. The pressures of pregnancy can also stress the ligaments to the degree that the position of the uterus is altered after the baby is born.
In addition to pain during sexual intercourse and menstruation, women with a tilted uterus may also experience mild urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections, difficulty using tampons and fertility problems.
“On the fertility situation,” said Flynn, “it was never a problem for me. I had one child before I had the surgery and two after.”
Like Flynn, many women who have a tilted uterus will not have fertility problems. More, the American Pregnancy Association notes that surgical procedures are reserved for women having painful intercourse or periods and generally not appropriate in addressing fertility issues.
On the question of painful sex and Flynn, lest we omit the happy ever after ending, all has been well throughout her marriage. “My husband and I have had great sex all through the years since my surgery,” she said. “In some ways, I think me having the uterus problem actually helped us. We both got more conversant with female anatomy than we were before I started seeing the doctors. In the process, I guess we became more knowledgeable about how female orgasm works.”
Flynn laughs. “All I know is that I seemed to have been spared the fate of many of my friends who have sure had complaints in that area all through the years.”
If you enjoyed this article, you might also be interested in the following:
Tilted Uterus: An Obstacle to Pregnancy?