I'm tilted!
January 25, 2007 11:57 PM   Subscribe

[Girlie filter] I'm tilted!

So, this question brought up some interesting questions. I was told when I was 16 or so that I have a tilted uterus. I was told that this would make childbirth slightly harder but that's about it. Upon reading some things online it seems that it can also cause painful sex and frequent UTI's.

It should be mentioned that I was born with a UTI that went untreated until I was about 3 months old. I was very sick and wouldn't gain weight. As soon as they fixed it I was healthy as can be, however, I have constant UTI's. Some doctors are suprised how advanced they can be without me noticing. I also notice pain with (oh the TMI) deeply penatrating sexual positions. To add to this I have incredibly painful periods. The cramps are intense and it feels like it's just about as painful as it can get every time. It's also suggested that the tilt has some relation to endometrisios, which my mother had and her uterus was removed when I was young because of. It was said by her doctors that she should have aborted me because her condition would have killed her and me. Luckily, neither happened.

Yes, I've been to doctors. Some say it's in my head. Some say that birth control may fix it (but all it did was make me insane and fat). But none have suggested that it's because my tilted uterus. So ladies, those of you that tilt (it's suggested that it's 20% if us) what have you noticed? Am I just a hypochondriac?
posted by nadawi to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
TMIFilter: I've found some sexual positions to be pretty painful. I can't really explain it but it sometimes feels like my husband is hitting, I dunno, my cervix? My bladder? Anyway, it hurts like hell. Incidentally, my all-time favorite sexual position is the CAT, (which I have always favored, but I never knew it had a name until I read it here on MeFi). During this position I really have to lift my ass, sort of like doing a reverse crunch, which I've always though was a result of my "tilt."
posted by Brittanie at 12:33 AM on January 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

A tilted uterus is just something out of alignment. I do not see any reason why it would cause pains that are triggered by chemicals.

There are many types of birth control. I've know a lot of women who had their menstrual pain eased by birth control. Don't give up yet, switch tablets.
posted by markesh at 3:29 AM on January 26, 2007

A tilted uterus is just something out of alignment. I do not see any reason why it would cause pains that are triggered by chemicals.

She never said birth control was causing her pain, but that it wasn't fixing it. If her tilted uterus is in fact related to endometriosis, then it certainly could be a likely factor in her pain.

nadawi, I don't have anything to tell you about the alignment of my internal organs, but I've had several UTIs that progressed to kidney infections without my having any symptoms until I came down with a high fever and a backache. I had to deal with a lot of doctors who treated me like an idiot for not coming in sooner before I found out that the particular bacteria causing my recurrent UTIs were different from the usual type. I didn't know until I was turned down for a clinical trial because they couldn't culture my bacteria samples like the usual bacteria. So you're not stupid for not catching it sooner.
posted by limicoline at 3:48 AM on January 26, 2007

OK, first of all, any doctor who tells you this is "all in your head" is just wrong and disrespectful. Don't see these doctors again - you deserve better care.

A tilted uterus is not out of alignment - don't go to a chiropractor for this! :) It's part of the variations of normal. It is not considered abnormal. Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue (the tissue inside the uterus that sheds with your period) is found OUTSIDE of the inside of the uterus so shouldn't have a relation to uterine tilt, as far as I know.

I think you still need to get help for your pain and discomfort - however, I doubt your UTIs or painful periods are related to the "tilt" of your uterus. Painful intercourse could be related - though honestly, many women, regardless of the tilt of their uterus, will experience discomfort with certain deep penetrative conditions. If you do have endometriosis, this may also cause discomfort or pain with intercourse.When it comes to sex, you need to be able to communicate well with your partner about what hurts and what doesn't, and if it hurts, avoid the position. I think some women are disappointed that they can't do the whole karma sutra, but that's common and ok as long as you get pleasure from sex in some positions.

I am sorry that birth control had bad side effects for you. The good thing about birth control is that there are lots of different kinds and you may want to try a few more (if you haven't already reached the end of your rope). Taking continuous birth control pills is quite helpful for women with lots of menstrual bleeding and pain. Higher doses of NSAIDs like ibuprofen can also be helpful if you can tolerate them. There is some evidence that acupressure may help with painful periods. As far as the UTIs go, hopefully you are in the care of a urologist for that and taking prophylaxis if needed.

Just to sum up - you need some good care for what is happening to your body. I doubt it's related to the position of your uterus - which is good news because that means that there are treatments to help you. I hope you find a good, responsible provider to care for you. Good luck.
posted by tuff at 4:27 AM on January 26, 2007

You've already received some very specific and helpful advice, but just to add my own experience, I was told I had a tilted uterus before conceiving my first child (now 3 months old). I hadn't noticed any particular difficulties with my period or sex prior to this, and childbirth wasn't especially difficult for me, though I was warned it would be.
posted by justonegirl at 4:30 AM on January 26, 2007

Given how common it is, I'm not losing sleep over mine.

Despite current pregnancy. Moreso given that "Usually between the 10th -12th week of pregnancy your uterus will no longer be tipped." I got a solid "not a big deal."

I did have some horrid UTI problems for a while, though. Especially if having sex. The solution then, after seeing too many urogynos (seconding the suggestion to keep doctor-shopping, here) was something with the unfortunate name of Vagifem. (Helpful male friend: "I wouldn't mind getting me a little vagifem right now.")

There's very little info about that sort of treatment and younger women, and I can't even give a good explanation as to how it worked. But it did work beautifully, and the problem's long gone.
posted by kmennie at 4:49 AM on January 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Mine is tipped, retroverted, whatever, and I can't say it's ever given me a single problem.
posted by MsMolly at 5:27 AM on January 26, 2007

IANAD I had terrible periods until I had a baby. Afterwards, my periods were much, much less troublesome. I'm not recommending it as a solution, but to let you know that it's unlikely to be in your head, hormones (birth control) may help, and it may not always be a problem.

My doctor told me most women's uteruses are tipped one way or the other; it shouldn't be an issue.

The persistent UTIs are a Big Issue, esp. since you are asymptomatic. See a urologist and get some help. Keep seeing urologists until you get taken seriously. Infections affect your general health and can cause longterm trouble.
posted by theora55 at 6:00 AM on January 26, 2007

Another tilted uterus here. But I had no pains or anything from it--my pains and horrible periods were from fibroids. Also I had a c-section when my daughter was born so no issues there with childbirth. See some other doctors and get and 2nd and 3rd opinons!
posted by sandra194 at 6:32 AM on January 26, 2007

Your problems likely aren't caused by the tilted uterus. I also have a tilted uterus. I've birthed 3 children with no problems and no pain meds (so-called 'natural' births). I've never had a UTI, no pain with sexual intercourse, and no painful periods.

I don't think you're a hypochondriac either. I think you need to keep doctor shopping until you find one willing to listen to you and concentrate on the UTI's and the painful periods. I think your best bet is a younger female doc.
posted by LadyBonita at 7:25 AM on January 26, 2007

Part of the problem may be due to antibiotic overuse and bacterial resistance. If you have been prescribed antibiotics for your UTIs and/or preventative antibiotics (taken daily or after sex) you have likely wiped out all of the good bacteria in your digestive system, which makes your immune system somewhat defenseless. This can lead to other problems, like the development of new food allergies you may not realize you have (which will make UTIs and symptoms more likely to occur) and candidiasis, which can also lead to more UTIs. I would talk to a urologist that recognizes this dangerous cycle, and a nutritionist that can asses what you've been eating and how you've been treating your UTIs. In the meantime, Google and WebMD are your friends—learning as much as you can before you go in will get you on the path towards feeling better quicker.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:58 AM on January 26, 2007

I have endometriosis, and the pain you're describing with your periods and intercourse sound endo-like to me. Of course, that doesn't mean they are due to endo, lots of ladies have lots of pain for no reason at all. But there certainly is a whiff of endo about the symptoms. And if it is endo, as sufferer who was told for years that my pain is all in my head and that I just needed to suck it up, take a Midol, and get on with my life, you have my deepest sympathy.

There are a lot of questions I could ask (when does the pain occur in your cycle? Does your back hurt? Your legs? What sexual positions are uncomfortable? Any constipation?) but the real bitch of it is, there's no actual way to diagnose endometriosis without laproscopic surgery.

Usually the first step, when a doc suspects you might have it, is to put you on birth control. Endo responds to estrogen, so it's the first line of defense. Even though your first experience with bcp wasn't great, it might be worth trying again, attempting to find a pill (or patch or ring or whatever) that has the combination and level of hormones to help you.

For me, the pills took the edge off, but eventually (after surgery and hormonal treatments way scarier than pills) my doctor and I decided to start cycling my pills so that I only have four periods a year. It has just about saved my life (and certainly my sanity). The important thing is to not give up until you find a doctor who takes you seriously, which is usually harder work than it ought to be.
posted by mostlymartha at 8:24 AM on January 26, 2007

Mine is tilted/tipped/whatever, and I've only ever had one UTI in my life. Also, sex is not painful, and the tipped uterus did not seem to adversely affect my ability to get pregnant, as that only took c. 3 months at age 29.

As for childbirth, I've had two separate OB/GYNs tell me that when pregnant, the uterus expands so much that any pre-existing tipping (in any direction) usually straightens itself out, just as a result of the expansion. So there's no effect on childbirth from a (formerly) tipped uterus, either.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it sounds like you have a problem, but it's not your tipped uterus. Get a referral to a different GYN for a second opinion on the matter, and tell him/her everything you've written here. A good gyno or even her nurse practitioner should be able to listen with understanding and discuss some possible solutions.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 9:10 AM on January 26, 2007

IANAD (but I do work for them) so I can add a little on the UTI side of things...

Who is treating your UTIs? If you're going to an MD who's throwing meds at them (e.g. a walk-in clinic) that may not be helpful. Several different bacteria can cause them, and the different bugs are sensitive to different antibiotics. There should be three tests: a chemical urinalysis (can tell if there's an infection), a culture (can tell what bacteria, usually takes 48 hours), and a sensitivity test (will say which common antibiotics the bug is sensitive to, or not). Taking the wrong antibiotic won't help, and as iamkimiam noted, can do serious harm in the long term. Furthermore, UTIs can be viral in which case no antibiotics will do any good.

Definitely push your doctor(s) to keep looking into things. I was lucky enough to get an early diagnosis of polycystic ovarian disease because when I was 14 my step-mother went on a total blitzkrieg until I was properly diagnosed. Also check out this super-helpful (Canadian) site: Women's Health Matters
posted by sarahkeebs at 1:39 PM on January 26, 2007

If it's endometriosis, birth control pills containing estrogen won't help and may make the pain worse. A progesterone-only pill is the way to go. Sorry I don't have time for a more complete answer - but for treating my endometriosis, I used St. John's Wort + progesterone cream during the last 2 weeks of my cycle (google "luteal phase" for info) for a while. Then I got my obgyn to prescribe a progesterone-only birth control pill bc the progesterone cream had been doing such wonders for me. Endometriosis is incredibly common and incredibly under-diagnosed, bc lots of docs brush off menstrual pain.
posted by selfmedicating at 3:01 PM on January 26, 2007

Cranberry juice does marvelous things for preventing UTIs. You can also buy dried cranberry juice supplements.
posted by nat at 5:57 PM on January 26, 2007

All of the symptoms you describe can be symptoms of endometriosis (frequent UTI, painful periods, pain during deep penetration). Having a close (mother, sister, first cousin) relative with endo makes it more likely that you have it. It may not be endo, but you should mention all of these symptoms plus your family history together to an OBGYN, and ask them point blank why they don't think it's endo, or any of the diseases (fibroids, PCOS) that can have similar symptoms. Keep going until you find one that will take you seriously.
posted by carmen at 8:34 AM on January 27, 2007

Echoing MsMolly and LadyBonita: I'm tilted but haven't had any issues. Good luck!
posted by kiita at 8:32 PM on January 28, 2007

I have a tilted uterus, anteverted to be exact, and this is considered the norm. Like you, I had many UTIs as a child. They even took me to the doctor and shoved a catheter up inside me when I was a kid and tried to figure out if anything was wrong. Nope. Some people are just more prone to UTIs than others. Birth control might help out cramps, but it has NOTHING to do with UTIs.

I stopped taking birth control because it killed my libido and made me the wicked witch of the west. As for living healthy and sane, here's what's worked for me:

In life, drink a lot of cranberry juice and pear juice (these hype up the acidity of your urine, making it not-so-comfy for UTI causing bacteria). Also, pee after sex, within 5-10 minutes, EVERY SINGLE TIME. Then jump back in bed and cuddle.

When you're having sex, little naturally occuring bacteria on our bodies freak out from the friction and high tail it up the urethra. There, they will have a party in your bladder if you don't push them out again by peeing.

And, if you ever have a severe UTI, I find that Levaquin works much faster than Cipro to kill those damnable bacteria. (But then you have to eat a lot of yogurt or something because Levaquin kills ALL the bacteria in your body)...

Anyway, good luck and happy health!
posted by whimsicalnymph at 4:19 PM on January 29, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks! All these answers are great. Also: pear juice? Awesome, it'll be nice to have something to switch the cranberry out with from time to time.
posted by nadawi at 11:55 AM on February 3, 2007

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