Some women develop frequent, regular contractions that don’t produce any change in the cervix. This condition is often called irritable uterus (IU). IU contractions are much like Braxton-Hicks, but they can be stronger, occur more frequently, and don’t respond to rest or hydration. These contractions are not necessarily normal, but they also aren’t necessarily harmful.
In 1851, a Dr. McKenzie wrote a piece in the London Journal of Medicine describing the condition. He started by remarking on the dueling titles of the time— hysteralgia and irritable uterus. The latter coined by a Dr. Gooch in 1831
In the early 1800’s, “irritable uterus” was actually used to describe a condition in non-pregnant women and unrelated to contractions!
The HEALTHLINE.COM states that:
"There have not been many studies done on IU and pregnancy. In 1995, researchers explored the link between IU and preterm labor and published their findings in the
In other words: Irritable uterus contractions might be annoying or even scary at times, but they are unlikely to significantly increase the chances of your baby coming too early."
What causes an irritable uterus?
It is unclear as to what causes it and isn’t necessarily the same in all women.
Some of the causes include anything from dehydration to stress to untreated infections, like a urinary tract infection. Unfortunately, you may never learn the cause of your irritable uterus contractions.
What Are The Symptoms Of Irritable Uterus?
Irritable uterus can feel similar to Braxton Hicks contractions but the contractions occur more frequently, are more painful, and tend to be more regular in length and frequency. Due to the intensity of the contractions many women mistake them for real labour. The contractions can also be accompanied by a feeling of pressure and/or pain in the back. Unlike Braxton Hicks, irritable uterus contractions worsen with increased activity. Irritable uterus can also feel like a constant tight belly, which can become worse when standing or walking. The tight belly can last for over an hour at a time. -
To deal with the symptoms you may want to try:
- Keep your bladder empty; a full bladder can create further irritation
- Stay hydrated
- Reduce your stress levels
- Get plenty of sleep
- Avoid lifting heavy items
- Lie on your left hand side
- Eat small meals, more frequently
- Avoid caffeine
- Take magnesium supplements (but check with your care provider first).
Our Pregnancy/Postpartum leggings have also been reported to help avoid the irritable uterus as there are no constricting seams through the uterus area. (This is a reported claim and not a research/investigated link)
1. Roberts WE, Perry KG Jr, Naef RW, Washburne JF, Morrison JC. The irritable uterus: a risk factor for preterm birth? J Obstet Gynecol. 1995 Jan;172(1 Pt 1):138-42.
2. Kehinde S. Okunade, Ayodeji A. Oluwole, and Maymunah A. Adegbesan-Omilabu. A Study on the Association between Low Maternal Serum Magnesium Level and Preterm Labour. Advances in Medicine. Volume 2014, Article ID 704875, 6 pages
3. Irritable Uterus and Irritable Uterus Contractions: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment. http://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/are-your-contractions-normal
See more at: https://www.bellybelly.com.au/pregnancy/irritable-uterus-during-pregnancy/