Double Uterus

What is a Double Uterus?

Though considerably rare, it is possible for a woman to be born with a double uterus. It occurs as a result of abnormal development in the embryo’s pair of Mullerian ducts, which starts off as two small tubes. Normally, they fuse together early in the pregnancy. The organ disappears in males and becomes the vagina, Fallopian tubes, and uterus in females. When an abnormality results in a double uterus, it is medically referred to as bicornuate uterus.

In most cases, external genitalia appear normal in newborns with a double uterus, so the condition often goes undiagnosed during the person’s early years. Duplication does not make it anymore difficult for a woman to conceive. However, it results in a heightened risk of various pregnancy complications, including premature birth and miscarriage. It is unknown why some fetuses are born with a double uterus, though it is thought that genetics may play a part since the condition seems to pass through families.

What are the Symptoms of a Double Uterus?

Women with a double uterus rarely experience any symptoms. Rather, a doctor may discover the condition while performing a pelvic exam or using imaging tests after recurrent miscarriages.

Symptoms include

Some patients might notice unusually severe pain during the menstrual period. Women who have developed a double vagina alongside a double uterus may visit the doctor when they notice menstrual bleeding that does not stop when using a tampon. When this happens, the tampon is absorbing from one vagina while the other continues to allow blood to drain.

Double Uterus Causes

Double uterus (Didelphic uterus) is a congenital birth defect that causes a woman to have two separate uteruses, each with its own cervix. It is caused as the fetus develops and while the uterus normally forms a large hollow opening some cases cause it to develop two separate uterine chambers. This condition can severely complicate pregnancy, although a successful pregnancy is possible. A large part of the time it is caused by genetics and is unavoidable, but like all birth defects, there are certain risk factors that can increase the chance that this defect will occur. Exposure to harsh chemicals, toxic substances, and radiation during pregnancy, as well as using alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy, have been identified as risk factors for virtually all birth defects. Associated conditions that may increase the chance include renal system conditions and muscular-skeletal deformations. This condition is often difficult to detect before pregnancy and may make childbirth extremely difficult if not detected.

How is a Double Uterus Treated?

Women with a double uterus will likely not require treatment if they are not experiencing any symptoms. Surgery is rarely done unless there is a partial division of the uterus that can be corrected to help maintain a pregnancy. For those who also have a double vagina, surgical operations can remove the extra wall of tissue, making childbirth a bit easier.

Double Uterus Prevention

Preventing congenital birth defects such as double uterus may not be possible, and it is very hard to detect during pregnancy. However, proper prenatal care is essential to the detection of any and all problems during pregnancy. Seeking out prenatal care and monitoring, as well as refraining from drinking, smoking and contact with hazardous chemicals or radiation while pregnant are all preventative steps that may reduce the risk of a double uterus. While in some cases it may be genetic and unavoidable, reduction of the risk is the best preventative measure. In some cases, surgical treatments may be available to correct the condition before it complicates a pregnancy. Healthy diet and care of the total health of the mother during the course of the pregnancy are also important to the healthy development of all of a fetus’ systems to include the reproductive system.

Last Reviewed:
September 20, 2016
Last Updated:
December 15, 2017