An Overview of the Types of Uterus in Females

The uterus is a small, muscular organ in females that stretches to accommodate a growing fetus during pregnancy. In most people with uteruses, the organ is pear-shaped and hollow, and slightly wider on the top than on the bottom. However, about 4% of females have a uterus that has a different shape.

This is known as a uterine abnormality and falls under the broader category of Müllerian anomalies, or issues with the development of the female reproductive tract.

Uterine abnormalities are congenital, meaning that they are present from birth. Although some people have uterine abnormalities diagnosed during puberty, most people with abnormal types of uteruses don’t discover their issue until they have trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. That’s because many types of uteruses increase the risk of miscarriage. However, if you have a type of uterus that is affecting your ability to get pregnant, you can have surgery to correct the condition, and many people go on to carry a pregnancy to term.

In addition to different shapes, certain positioning of the uterus can affect your ability to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term. About half of women have a uterus that leans forward slightly, which is considered the typical position. However, it’s common for women to have other uterus positions, including a tilted or retroverted uterus. In most cases, these positions don’t cause infertility, but for some people, they may contribute.

Here’s what you should know about the different types of uteruses, in both shape and positioning, as well as other conditions that can affect your uterine health.  

Anatomy of the Uterus

Most women have a hollow, pear-shaped uterus. If you took a cross section of the uterus, it would look like an upside-down triangle. However, about 4% of females have a uterus that doesn’t have this typical shape.

The different types of uteruses are caused by a disruption to development of the reproductive tract in the womb before birth. These are known as Müllerian anomalies. While some have a genetic component, others are caused by random mutations.

Missing Uterus

The most common Müllerian abnormalities are for a uterus to be missing completely (known as agenesis) or severely underdeveloped (hypoplasia). In these cases, a person cannot carry a  pregnancy.

Müllerian anomalies can also lead to different shapes of the uterus that can still support a pregnancy, with or without intervention. These are: 

Bicornuate Uterus

Rather than having a smooth top, a bicornuate uterus has an indentation at the top, giving it a heart-shaped appearance. It can also appear like a pair of horns or points. During pregnancy, this shape of uterus restricts the space that a fetus has to grow and develop.

People with a bicornuate uterus are able to conceive normally. However, they have a slightly increased risk of second-trimester miscarriage, as the uterus shape limits how the fetus can develop. In addition, the heart shape can make it difficult for a baby to get into the head-down birthing position, so people with a bicornuate uterus are also at increased risk of having a cesarean delivery.

Arcuate Uterus

An arcuate uterus has a slight dip in the top wall, known as the fundus. It is much less pronounced than the dip in a bicornuate uterus.

Some people consider an arcuate uterus a variation of a normal uterine shape. However, it brings with it a slightly increased risk of second-trimester miscarriages.

Septate Uterus

People with a septate uterus have one uterus that is divided by a band of tissue, not unlike the septum that separates your nasal passages. In some people, this tissue runs the entire length of the uterus, but in others, it affects only part of the uterus.

Having a septate uterus can make it more difficult to get pregnant and increase the risk for first-trimester miscarriage. It can also increase the risk for cesarean delivery if the fetus is not able to get into an ideal birthing position.

If you have repeated miscarriages or trouble conceiving because of a septate uterus, you should talk with your healthcare provider about surgically removing the tissue that separates your uterus. This can often be done using laparoscopy in order to have a less invasive procedure.

Unicornuate Uterus

A unicornuate uterus is a rare type of uterus that happens when only half of the uterus forms. This results in a smaller, often banana-shaped uterus.

Some people with a unicornuate uterus can successfully carry a pregnancy to term, but this type of uterus shape comes with increased risk for many complications including:

People with a unicornuate uterus also have an increased risk of having a missing kidney, which can cause its own set of complications during pregnancy.

In some cases, people with a unicornuate uterus have another, partially formed uterus known as a hemi-uterus. If the hemi-uterus has no cervical opening, menstrual blood can build up, causing abdominal pain and pressure. Surgical interventions can help alleviate these symptoms. 

Uterus Didelphys

Uterus didelphys is also known as double uterus. This can happen along a range:

  • Some people have two uteruses with two separate cervical openings.
  • Other people have two uteruses, cervixes, and vaginas.

This type of uterus shape tends to run in families, so if you have a family member with a double uterus, you’re more likely to have one yourself.

In terms of pregnancy complications, having a double uterus carries the least risk compared to other uterine shapes.

If You Have Two Uteruses, Can You Get Pregnant in Both?

People with a double uterus can conceive normally, and in rare cases, they can even get pregnant in both uteruses at once.

There is a small increased risk of miscarriage and preterm labor, but most people with a double uterus can carry a pregnancy to term.

DES-Related Uterus

In some cases, exposure to environmental toxins while in utero can cause a person to have a t-shaped uterus. This is associated with exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic form of estrogen. Some women with a t-shaped uterus have no complications, but others have trouble conceiving and carrying a pregnancy to term. 

Exposure to DES while in the womb is also associated with other health risks, including an increased risk for cervical cancer. If your mother took DES while she was pregnant with you, you should speak with your doctor about the implications for your health. 

Positions of the Uterus

While there is a set uterine shape that is typical, there is a much wider variation in how the uterus is positioned within the pelvis and abdomen. The uterus is held in position by various ligaments. For about half of women, the uterus is tilted slightly forward, toward the front of their pelvis.

About 25% of women have a uterus that is tilted toward the back, rather than the front. This is known as a retroverted, tipped, or tilted uterus.

Some people are born with a tilted uterus, while others develop it over time. In most cases, a retroverted or tilted uterus does not interfere with a person’s ability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term.

In some cases, for some people, it can increase miscarriage risk. If you have repeated, unexplained miscarriages, you can talk with your healthcare provider about whether the placement of your uterus might be contributing. 

Other Types of Uterus Complications

Even if you have a typically shaped and positioned uterus, you might experience other uterine-related health conditions. These can affect your reproductive health, causing symptoms ranging from heavy periods to trouble conceiving or repeat miscarriages.

If you suspect that something is not quite right with your reproductive tract, it’s a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider. 

 Common uterus-related health concerns include:

  • Uterine fibroids: Fibroids are small masses of tissue that can occur inside or outside the uterus. About half of women will have fibroids by the time they’re 50, but many don’t realize that they have fibroids because they don’t cause any symptoms. In other cases, fibroids can cause heavy menstrual bleeding or pregnancy complications. If you have fibroids and want to get pregnant, it’s best to speak with your doctor about whether you need to treat your fibroids first. 
  • Endometriosis: Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that lines the uterus, called endometrial tissue, grows outside the uterus. It can cause a host of painful symptoms, including heavy, irregular periods, cramps, and bladder trouble. Endometriosis can also make it difficult to get or stay pregnant. Roughly 11% of women of childbearing age have endometriosis. 
  • Scarring: If you have had previous uterus procedures, including a D&C or myolysis, you might have uterine scarring. Scarring can often make periods lighter, which some people prefer, but it can also make it difficult to conceive and carry a pregnancy for some people. If you have uterine scarring and want to get pregnant, speak with your doctor. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How many types of uteruses are there?

There are six different types of congenital uterine abnormalities or developmental issues that affect the shape of the uterus. In addition, the uterus can be missing entirely or severely under-formed. All of these conditions fall under the umbrella of Müllerian abnormalities. 

What types of uterus conditions exist?

About 5% of women have a congenital uterus abnormality, a condition that affects the shape of their uterus. In some cases, these can lead to trouble with fertility. In addition, about 25% of women have a condition that affects the placement of their uterus.

However, these conditions, including having a tilted uterus, generally don’t have a large impact on fertility. In addition to these conditions, there are other conditions including endometriosis, fibroids, and polyps that can affect reproductive health and fertility. 

Which types of uterus procedures are there? 

There are a host of surgical and non-surgical procedures that can treat uterine conditions. For example, a septate uterus can be treated with surgery that removes the tissue dividing the uterus in two.

Fibroids can be treated using myolysis, a procedure that uses heat, cold, or even ultrasound to kill off or shrink fibroids. If you have severe and recurrent uterine conditions, your doctor might recommend a hysterectomy—the full removal of the uterus. You should speak with your doctor about what uterus procedures you may need, and why the doctor thinks they will be beneficial for you.

A Word From Verywell

Like any body part, the uterus has a wide variation of what is considered normal. However, certain types of uteruses can cause symptoms, especially when it comes to conception, fertility, and birth. 

If you’re concerned about the shape of your uterus, speak with a healthcare professional.

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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