The Heart Shaped Uterus and Fertility

The Heart Shaped Uterus and Fertility

For women living with a heart-shaped uterus, also known as bicornuate uterus, trying to conceive and then going on to labor and delivery, has in some cases been problematic. This malformation of the uterus happens during development as an embryo. For some women, a heart-shaped uterus may be a contributing factor to fertility problems.

When a female embryo is forming, somehow the fusion process of the mellurian ducts does not form as it should, thus the top part of the uterus forms in two separate sections with “horns” on each top section, while the lower part remains normal as one part. This is where the heart-shaped and bicornuate names come from. In women with this condition the uterus forms the shape of a heart rather than and upside down pear shape. This malformation can be in varying degrees. For some there will be a uterus that appears to be almost split into two different uterine cavities, while others only have a slight heart-shape appearance.

I was quite surprised to find out that only about 1% of all women in the United States have a heart-shaped uterus. I was surprised because honestly we get quite a few women writing in that have this condition. I also have personally know many women who have a heart-shaped uterus. Of all these women none that I know personally has ever had trouble conceiving, but all of them have had labor and/or delivery problems. We do get a lot of questions from women wondering if having a heart-shaped uterus is contributing or causing their fertility struggles. The answer cannot be a simple yes or no, and that is because of the varying degrees of this condition.

Is My Heart-shaped Uterus Causing My Difficulty in Conceiving?
If the only fertility issue that you know of is your heart-shaped uterus, then you may want to ask your doctor about the exact shape of your uterus to see severity of the malformation. Recent studies cannot confirm that a heart-shaped uterus alone causes infertility. A uterus that has a top that is split into two different cavities is more likely to cause issues during pregnancy, labor and delivery. If you have a heart-shaped uterus and continue to struggle to get pregnant, there is probably some other fertility issue going on that is causing your difficulties. It would be best to talk to your doctor about this.

Women with a heart-shaped uterus are more likely to have difficulties after they become pregnant.

  • Risk for recurrent miscarriage goes up in women with a heart-shaped uterus. The reproductive potential for women with bicornuate uterus is measured by the live birth rate, which has been estimated at 63% for women with this condition.
  • Women with a bicornuate uterus have a 15-25% chance of preterm delivery. This can be dangerous for the baby’s survival, especially if the mother goes into labor before the baby is fully developed.
  • In a partial bicornuate uterus, 40-50% of all babies present as breech (feet first) during labor and delivery. Women with a complete bicornuate uterus had 0% breech presentation. Breech presentation increases potential complications for labor and delivery for the mother and child. Babies presenting breech are considered slightly higher risk and may end up in cesarean section.
  • Higher risk of cervical incompetence. If cervical incompetence is present, a cervical cerclage may be necessary. A cervical cerclage is where the cervix is stitched closed at a certain point in the pregnancy, usually during the second trimester. The cerclage is then taken out at the end of pregnancy in preparation for labor and birth.

What Can I Do Naturally to Improve My Chances of Carrying to Term?
With physical abnormalities of the uterus, the most important thing you can do would be to keep the uterus as healthy as possible by maintaining it’s strength, circulation and position. This also includes addressing any other fertility issue you may have such as uterine fibroids, hormonal imbalance, endometriosis, ect. Our Improving Uterine Health for Fertility, Conception and Implantation article is a great guide to maintaining uterine health overall. You will want to keep your uterus in top shape if you are already facing pregnancy, labor and birth with a heart-shaped uterus. This will give you the best chances for a healthy pregnancy, labor, delivery and baby possible! It is important to think ahead before trying to conceive. If you have a heart-shaped uterus you will want to prepare in advance of conception; think of ways to increase your uterine health.

The best ways to maintain proper uterine function and health are:

Diet and Exercise: Eating a wholefood nutrient dense diet. Walking and Fertility Yoga are two of the best ways to maintain uterine health and position.

Self Fertility Massage and Maya Abdominal Massage: This type of massage helps to maintain proper alignment of the uterus, increase and maintain healthy circulation, helps to promote a healthy menstrual cycle, maintain strength of uterine muscles, and support proper hormonal balance.

Herbs: There are many herbs specific as uterine tonics that help the uterus to slightly contract to help maintain muscle tone of the uterus. Herbs that are uterine tonics that have been shown safe for daily use prior to ovulation are; Raspberry leaf and Evening Primrose Oil.


References:
1) wikipedia.org/wiki/Uterus
2) Reproductive Performance of Women with Uterine Anomalies: An evaluation of 182 cases
1982, Vol. 61, No. 2 , Pages 157-162
3) wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicornuate_uterus#cite_note-4
4) babymed.com/pregnancy-complications/bicornuate-uterus

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[-] 25 Comments
  1. I have a heart shaped uterus.. I been trying to conceive for years now,could dis be the reason?

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello Rieana!

      This may be the reason, but I couldn’t say for certain.

      Take Care!

  2. Ive got a heart shaped womb and had to give birth at 4 months and my baby didnt surive.
    im trying again but how can I prevent this from happeneing again.

  3. Hi there,
    It wasn’t until my Daughter was born when they had to perform an emergency c section did they find out i had a heart shaped womb. My Daughter was born 5 weeks early Breech and weeks at the special care baby unit. It all fitted in together when i was explained what was happening inside.I was told just minutes after and felt so emotional and guilty that it was my fault that she had had a traumatic birth.However,i now realise that she was only growing in the left hand side of my womb and i now know why i was having difficulties with bending etc,i managed to work full time,i was at work the morning she was born totally unaware i was having a baby by tea time. I then went on to have another child within two years and i was worried out of my mind. The pregnancy was pretty good apart from the sickness.But yet again,my baby boy was born early and even earlier than my daughter.he was 8 weeks early and more time at baby unit and incubators.I now know how fortunate i have been to have two healthy children and would never risk having any more children ..one thing that worries me noe,is if my daughter has this condition…hopefully notx

  4. Update 2014 – We are back! We have been away for a while and we sure have missed all of your wonderful questions and thoughts on our articles. I apologize for not being able to reply to all past comments. Moving forward, one of our staff herbalists will be here to respond to comments! We look forward to connecting with our readers once again!

  5. after struggling so much to conceive and with no success, many complications with my painful mentrual periods, diagnosed with Endometriosis, ….I just found out at age of 40 that I have heart shaped uterus!! I’m wondering if this has anything to do with all my complications?>

  6. I had a heart-shaped uterus. I had surgery last June (a resection of the uterus) to take out the septum in the middle of the uterus. The reason for opting for this surgery was that I started having troubles with my menstural cycles about 2 years ago (missed but not pregnant) and my older sister also has the same condition and lost 3 before sucessfully getting pregnant, although she had to have an emergency c-section 2 weeks before the due date because of toxemia. I decided to get the procedure done so that when I want to start trying with my husband that I don’t have to go through the heart-ache my sister went through trying to conceive. I also have a younger sister and told her to get checked if and when she decides that she wants children since both myself and our older sister have the same condition.

  7. I have a heart shaped cervix and i was wondering if a pregnancy test would come back negative, even if i was pregnant?

  8. I wasn’t aware that I had a heart shaped uterus until I had my 1st US at 12 weeks! I mentioned it to my OB and he didn’t seem to concerned which put my mind at ease. As the weeks went on I didn’t feel my baby moving much, I had regular US and everything was all ok each time, around 30 weeks I was told that that my baby was transverse so I may end up having a c-section at 37weeks if baby didn’t turn on its own. I manged to get to 40 weeks and 3 days and was enduced and delivered a healthy baby boy naturally, he was small weighing 2.8kgs but perfect. I hope his gives people out there some hope that even though we do have a unusual shaped uterus we can still becomes mums!!!

  9. I just had my first ultrasound today. I am 6 wks and 2 days. This is my third pregnancy, I lost the first two in the 1st trimester. The start of the u.s. was going great, they were able to detect a heartbeat! But then the doctor came in and explained that I have a heart shaped uterus and will have to go to a specialist in 4 weeks to see how severe it is and to continue close monitoring. I am so nervous that my case is severe and I will not be able to give birth to a healthy child. What are the chances of the baby being born with severe disabilities like mental retardation or even stillbirth? My husband and I would rather live a life child free than to bring a child into the world that cannot function normally on its own. We tried for a little over a year with each pregnancy and are afraid that we will never get to have a healthy baby of our own. :(

  10. i just found out during an ultrasound that i have heart shaped uterus. this is my 4th pregnancy and this is the first i heard of this. do u think thats why my last 2 pregnancies i had my children both at 36 weeks?

  11. When i was pregnant i did not know i had a heart shaped uterus until i went to my 5 month ultra sound my Dr told me i had a heart shaped uterus and she was surprised i even got pregnant. Then when i was 30 weeks she told me my baby was breached and i would more likely have to do c section because women who have a heart shaped uterus most likely will have breached baby so they scheduled to do my c section on January 13, 2012 but a terrible tragedy happened and I lost my baby on December 31,2011 i was only 35 weeks and my water broke and my baby boy came out feet first he passed away that morning=,(. Now i’m afraid that will happen again if i get pregnant with my 2nd baby. What are my chances of this happening again?

    • Hi Sarah,

      I am very sorry to hear of your difficult loss. It is very common for women with a heart shaped uterus to have breech babies. It is hard to predict early labor which may have contributed to this tragedy. In the future you may need to be more closely monitored in the last month of pregnancy, which may help prevent another loss. It would be extremely rare for you to have another major complication that lead to the same outcome. I hope that you are receiving the support and healing you need to go on, work past the pain of that loss and move forward to a happy, and healthy baby!

      All the best to you!

      Dalene

  12. I have a heart shaped uterus I lost 2 kids before I found out. My cervix is very weak also. When I got pregnant again for the third time I have to get a rubber band put on my cervix bed rest for all of my pregnancy and a lot of medication. When i had the c-section they told me that I had a heart shaped uterus and that was the reason I lost my other 2. They told me if I got pregnant again it would kill me or the baby or both of us. I want another one but I don’t know if I could go through all of the pain and suffering I had to do while I was pregnant any suggestions?

    • Hi Melissa,

      I am sorry for your losses, that is unimaginably difficult! I think discussing with your doctor why they feel your uterus shape is considered so dangerous for subsequent pregnancies? Incompetent cervix is more dangerous than a heart shaped uterus, and that factor alone may be what determines the risk to your life and pregnancy. I have known women with incompetent cervix, those pregnancies are very difficult and require a lot of effort and monitoring. Talk to your doctor, I think if you have a list of questions for them, you may be able to make a clear plan for another pregnancy.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  13. I found out I was pregnant pretty early. I was 4 weeks along. They told me I had a heart shaped uterus at the emergency room. I was so nervous because I went and did research and so many stories.. When I was 19 weeks along, I had a sono telling me the sex of the baby. The lady told me that I didn’t have a heart shaped uterus. So, I went the rest of my pregnancy not worrying at all. I went over 1 day over my due date, and they noticed the baby wasn’t moving. They monoterd me for a few hours and decided they would do a c section. After delivering they said, you have a split uterus. My pregnancy went so normal I would have never thought I had one. But I know I’m safe if I just take care of my self. Any first time pregnant woman out there, don’t be scared! Just listen to the doctors!!!    

  14. I just found out I have a “heart shaped” uterus. I have four children (including identical twins) and did not have any difficulties getting pregnant or delivering. The only reason I just found out is I just had an US for some complications after endometrial ablation. Very interesting!!

  15. This helped me so much as I was diagnosed when I was 16 with a heart shaped uterus(mine is also split at the top) And my son was born 2 months early due to complications. I am now pregnant with my second child and experiencing the same things. I have done everything I can to keep pre-term labor at bay but it doesnt seem to be helping. its nice to see other women out there know what I am going through.

  16. I have a bicornuate uterus and i have two kids. Both my kids were conceived while i was taking birth control. I always always remembered to take my pills every day at the same time. I thought it was pretty weird that it happened twice. Both of my babies were breached and i had a c-section for both. Usually for c-sections babies have to be delivered 1 to 2 weeks earlier than the due date. so they scheduled my dates ……….The strangest thing happened. My daughters due date was December 5th and the doctors scheduled my C-section for November 20th 2008 at noon. That day at 6 in the morning my water breaks and out comes baby at 8am!! Second baby’s due date was January 17th 2011th at 1pm. That day comes and yet again my water breaks at 7:30am. Baby boy was born at 11:42am. I’m wondering if next baby will be the same?

    • Hi Ashley Godinez,

      Thank you for sharing your experience with delivering babies with a bicornuate uterus. I guess you will have to wait and see when and how your 3rd baby is going to come into this world.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  17. Wow this made me feel a whole lot better! I am 19 years old and found out on Christmas I was pregnant! Tonite I wus havin little pains that would come and go, so I went to the hospital and they diagnosed me with a “heart shaped” uterus! And I was so scared! My doctor told me I would be fine! But I am definately gonna try to be stress free! So my baby is very healthy!