Content note: Graphic image below.
A recent social media post is sparking debate – and misinformation – about the size of a ‘normal’ uterus.
Shape-shifting lady bits
The quite graphic – scroll on with this graphic content warning – update features a very small uterus and ovaries which have been removed from a post-menopausal woman via a radical hysterectomy. (This procedure involves the removal of the uterus and other reproductive organs and is performed to treat a number of medical conditions.)
In the accompanying image, a doctor’s hand holds the uterus and ovaries – and they look very, very tiny.
Commenters in their thousands marvelled at the photo, believing that their own uterus might look like this petite example. But chances are it won’t and this photo purporting to be the norm is actually far from it.
Also? It’s kind of weird that we are celebrating the size of uteruses now! Isn’t there enough body image pressure without marvelling at petite reproductive organs?!
What is ‘normal’?
The now viral post, shared by the Institute of Mums Facebook page, goes on to detail just how adaptable a uterus is – true! – and provide some statistics on its changing size.
MORE Stages of Pregnancy
The uterus obviously changes size during pregnancy, stretching to accommodate the baby or babies. During menopause, the uterus shrinks in size as a woman ages getting smaller the further she gets from menopause.
The doctor who posted the original image on Instagram confirms this is a particularly tiny uterus and not really the norm for your average woman.
Anyone else surprised by how small it is?!! ❤️This incredible visual from @docshawarma (via @vbmaternitywellnessllc) —…
The size of a drumstick
“After you give birth, the uterus immediately starts contracting to shrink itself,” the repost continues.
That part, at least, is true. Anyone who has had a baby will be familiar with those postpartum contraction feels, especially if you are able to breastfeed your baby. The uterus cleverly keeps sizing down in the days and weeks after birth.
While lots of people went for the information shared in this post hook, line and sinker, a number of nurses piped up to flag the photo as misleading.
“As an OR nurse I have NEVER seen a uterus that small on any women,” one wrote under the image. “I am having a hard time buying that is a grown woman’s uterus – and trust me I have assisted on over 100 hysterectomies in 30 years.”
“I actually thought it looked like teen or toddler size,” nurse Tracie continued.
“I agree,” another commenter posted. “I’ve seen many hysterectomy’s never seen them this small.”
“Absolutely agree, I‘m a surgical assistant,” someone else commented.
“As a student nurse in theatre on gynae ops, wombs I saw removed were more the size and shape of a chicken drumstick,” another Facebook user wrote.
“This is way too small and I think it’s photoshopped, I’ve seen lots of hysterectomies and the uterus is usually like a pear, not a walnut,” someone else confirmed.
So there you have it. This photo shows some amazing reproductive organs, but the average woman of childbearing age will sport much larger versions of those depicted.