Normally, the uterus is vertical and straight, but in some cases, the uterus tips back toward the backside of the pelvis. A tipped uterus may have an effect on an ultrasound and on a pregnancy. However, its effects appear to be limited to the first trimester as the uterus normally returns to its vertical position as the pregnancy progresses.
What Is an Ultrasound
A standard ultrasound is a procedure that uses sound waves to create a two-dimensional picture of a pregnant woman's pelvic cavity and abdomen. A sonographer applies gel to the woman's abdomen during the examination, which serves as a conductor that delivers sound waves into the area. The waves create an image of the fetus as the waves bounce off of tissue and bones.
An ultrasound isn't necessary in every pregnancy, but it is a handy tool that can help detect developmental problems in the fetus and possible pregnancy complications. A pregnant woman may have the procedure during any time of her pregnancy. Considering the size of the fetus in early pregnancy, it may be possible that a titled uterus makes it difficult for an ultrasound to detect the developing baby.
Tilted Uterus and Ultrasounds
During the first trimester, a doctor may suggest an ultrasound to confirm a pregnancy or to confirm problems like an ectopic pregnancy. The first stage of pregnancy is extremely important for the baby's development and the heartbeat is a sound that many women eagerly anticipate during this type of procedure.
A tilted uterus during an ultrasound may prevent the test from detecting a heartbeat, which can be very distressing for the mother. However, if an ultrasound doesn't detect a heartbeat early in the pregnancy, it doesn't mean that there is a problem. A tipped uterus is among the reasons that a heartbeat goes undetected.
A tipped uterus, however, should not prevent a sonographer from seeing the developing baby, especially as the pregnancy progresses. If a women has an ultrasound at nine weeks, for example, the sonographer should be able to see the baby. If the test fails to detect a gestational sac, a doctor may order a blood test that measures hormone levels to show if the pregnancy is far enough along for a gestational sac to be present.
The Misdiagnosed Miscarriage
The Misdiagnosed Miscarriage is a support website created by mothers who have had experience with miscarriage or misdiagnosed miscarriages. The people who run the site make is perfectly clear that they are not medical professionals, but their stories may be able to offer insight into the possibility of the effects a titled uterus may have on an ultrasound.
The Misdiagnosed Miscarriage asserts that a tipped uterus may lead to a misdiagnosis of blighted ovum. The site suggests that a retroverted uterus can make the baby appear smaller in the first trimester. This may lead to problems when it comes to properly detecting a blighted ovum because the criteria for diagnosis relies on the size of the embryo and yolk sac in the gestational sac.
No studies back the claims and research is necessary to determine whether a tilted uterus can lead to a misdiagnosis or not.
Tipped Uterus in Pregnancy and Conception
According to the American Pregnancy Association, a tipped uterus is not usually a cause of fertility problems. Physicians may, however, look at this structural problem after other possible causes of infertility have been examined and ruled out. During pregnancy, a tipped uterus returns to its vertical position at about 11 weeks and the condition shouldn't affect the pregnancy or labor and childbirth.
Women trying to conceive may want to have an examination to detect a tilted uterus. An ultrasound isn't necessary for a diagnosis since a doctor can easily detect the condition during a routine pelvic exam. A physician may want to reposition the womb before conception.