What is a Double (Didelphys) Uterus?

Uterus Didelphys, or a double uterus, is a rare condition that occurs in female fetuses as they develop in the womb. Normally, two tubes called Mullerian ducts are fused together to create a single uterus, but occasionally these two tubes fail to join. When this happens, two separate uteri form, usually with double cervices and double vaginas as well. They are both fully functioning uteri, and some women with this condition have given birth to twins who were each housed in a separate uterus. This means it is possible to deliver babies several days or weeks apart, though many with multiple births opt for scheduled cesarean sections. The cause of this anomaly is not known and there are often no symptoms present, so many women never even know they have uterus didelphys. Other women may have abnormal pain during menses, and some will have reproductive and pregnancy issues.
If uterus didelphys is suspected, a doctor will perform a pelvic exam. During this exam, if a double vagina and double cervix are present, doctors may order other tests to assess the condition of the uteri. Diagnostic procedures used to view the uterus include ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and hysterosalpingography, which is a cumbersome label for a procedure that involves injecting a dye into the uterus and taking special x-rays.

If no symptoms are present and there are no complications with fertility and pregnancy, then uterus didelphys does not require any treatment. Sometimes women with this condition will have pregnancy complications due to the smaller size each uterus. Miscarriage, infertility, and delivery issues are all possibilities. Breech births are especially common for women with uterus didelphys, and many end up having cesarean sections. Doctors are loathe to perform surgery to correct this condition, as the symptoms do not typically warrant the risk of surgery. However, if it's only a thin layer separating the uteri, and a fetus is at risk, doctors may remove the barrier.

The most important thing for pregnant women with uterus didelphys to remember is that the condition puts one in the high-risk pregnancy category. This means all the normal safety precautions associated with any pregnancy should be tightly adhered to, and doctor's orders should be closely followed to avoid miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and premature birth. An incompetent cervix is one of the factors that contributes to premature labor, so it is essential that women have the cervix checked often in the latter portion of a pregnancy.