By Alyce Collins
AFTER being told her excruciating period pain was normal for years, this mother was shocked to discover she has TWO WOMBS and TWO CERVIXES, when an ultrasound revealed a pregnancy sac IN EACH WOMB.
Service advisor, Katie Uzzell (23) from Lincoln, UK, suffered from severe pain since she was 12 years old when her periods started. The debilitating monthly pain made her vomit, she was often unable to walk, and she even fainted on some occasions.
Katie often went to her GP over the years to find out if there was any way of decreasing the crippling pain which wreaked havoc each month. When Katie was 19, she had an exploratory laparoscopy to look for endometriosis, which could have been the cause of pain. However, no endometriosis was found but Katie was told that her uterus was misshapen.
When Katie was 18, she met her now husband Liam and they married three years later. Having a family of their own was important for them both so Katie stopped receiving the contraceptive injection which stopped her periods and in turn prevented the pain.
In November 2018, the couple discovered they were pregnant, and they were delighted by the news, however a scan at four weeks gestation revealed that Katie didn’t have a misshaped uterus as suggested previously, she in fact has a condition called uterus didelphys.
Uterus didelphys is the formation of a double uterus with two cervixes. In Katie’s case, she has two wombs, two cervixes and a partial vaginal septum as her birth canal is split in two almost all the way down, making her anatomy one in a million.
Katie and Liam’s child was developing in the left womb, but at eight weeks a second sac was discovered in the right womb. At 10 weeks it was confirmed that the pregnancy in the right womb wasn’t viable and the baby had stopped growing – but the left womb baby was thriving. Had the second pregnancy sac been viable, they would have been unidentical twins developing in their own wombs.
At 37 weeks, Sienna was born in the evening of July 13, 2019 and weighed 5lb 12oz and Katie returned to the contraceptive injection as soon as she could to avoid pain.
“I suffered debilitating pain since starting my periods when I was 12, constantly being told by my GP that it was ‘just period pain’ and I would have to get used to it,” said Katie.
“I would be physically sick every month, sometimes unable to walk and occasionally faint. Every month I was having a full week off school until the pain was controlled with the contraceptive injection.
“I felt stupid that this apparent ‘normal period pain’ made me so unwell and I couldn’t understand why other girls around me could cope so well with the pain. It was really confusing at such a young age and scary that I could be facing this pain every month for my whole life.
“Aged 19 I was finally referred for an exploratory laparoscopy to check for endometriosis. No endometriosis was found, but I was told my womb is misshapen and is most likely a bicornuate uterus.
“It wasn’t until I was pregnant and having early scans that uterus didelphys was confirmed. I have two separate womb cavities, two cervixes and a partial vaginal septum, meaning my birth canal was split in two most of the way down. I’ve been told that my anatomy is one in a million.
“I was relieved that I finally had an answer to my pain that confirmed I wasn’t going crazy. I was also nervous as uterus didelphys brings higher risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and preterm labour.
“My baby girl Sienna was in my left womb, and at my eight week scan I was told a pregnancy sac had formed in my right womb as well, but no baby was visible. We had another scan at 10 weeks which confirmed the pregnancy in the right womb was not viable and the baby had not continued to grow. However, the baby in the left womb was thriving.
“Obviously two babies would have been so exciting but at the same time I was very nervous because it’s rare to get to full term with just one baby with uterus didelphys, so I was worried about the length of time my body would be able to carry two babies.
“They would have been unidentical twins – the same as unidentical twins carried in one womb except they would have each had their own womb. We were prepared for the news, it was obviously gutting, but it was amazing to see our left womb baby looking healthy and strong.
“What hurt me most was when people heard I had two wombs they would make comments like ‘so you could have a baby in each womb’ And I explained that there was a baby in each womb to start with, then people would say ‘well at least you’ve got one’.”
As her pregnancy progressed, it became clearer to see that Sienna was developing in Katie’s left womb as her baby bump protruded to the left, with Katie opting for black maternity clothes to avoid comments.
Uterus didelphys meant Sienna had less room because with Katie having two wombs, each one had to be smaller to fit the confines, but fortunately Sienna developed steadily. The condition can lead to infertility in many women who have it, so Katie counts herself lucky to have been able to carry her daughter.
“I carried very heavily to the left, and although it wasn’t noticeable when I was stood up, it was really noticeable when I sat down. I mostly wore black at work to avoid any comments,” said Katie.
“My husband and family found it fascinating though, so I never felt self-conscious at home.
“I had growth scans at 28, 32 and 36 weeks where the baby was confirmed small but healthy. I went into labour at 37 weeks and ended up with an emergency c-section after being left in labour for 15 hours – even though the doctors knew I needed a c-section.
“Sienna was born at 37 weeks gestation at 20:48, weighing 5lb 12oz.
“I went straight back on the contraceptive injection and this stops my periods and therefore avoids the pain, however if we ever wanted another baby then I would have to come off the injection and face the pain again – so I’m not sure if we will have another one!”